Rotary Membership Part IV: 10 Reasons Why Rotary Shouldn’t Advertise for New Members.

In Part III of our discussion about Rotary membership, Implementing a Comprehensive Rotary Marketing Campaign,  we explored a comprehensive marketing campaign that coordinated traditional advertising, digital advertising, social media, event marketing, and local Rotary club sales in a gigantic, paradigm-shifting attempt to turn-around Rotary’s falling membership.  For all of you who are skeptics, naysayers, non-believers, and generally resistant to change, or perhaps you are realistic and practical, here are ten reasons why an advertising campaign wouldn’t work in Rotary.  (The rejoinders to each objection are found below)

1. It costs too much:  Our traditional method of growing membership by asking our friends, family, and associates to join our club is free.  It doesn’t cost a dime.  In that context, ANY amount you spend on advertising is EXPENSIVE.

2.  We’ve never done it before:  If advertising worked we would have done it years ago.  Since we haven’t done it before it must not be effective in helping to attract new members.

3.  It requires committed leadership:  This requires at least two years of planning, consulting, design, coordination, training, and fundraising at the highest levels of Rotary leadership.  Good luck with that.

4.  It requires specific expertise:  We don’t know how to do this.  Who will create the content, design the back-end of the landing pages, and make the media buys?  If Rotary volunteers can’t do it then we would have to spend money on it.

5.  Rotary International won’t participate:  The last time Rotary International did something so inspiring to help Rotary clubs was …..well……I can’t remember.   We don’t have a far-sighted leader who is willing to passionately sell this program to the RI Board.

6.  It isn’t fair to every Rotary club around the world:  This program only benefits certain clubs.  What about clubs in the developing world?  Why should Rotary spend money on a campaign that doesn’t directly benefit them?

7.  The public won’t respond to digital advertising about Rotary:  You could put a zillion popup ads on the internet.  No one really responds to those things.

8.  Rotarians won’t want to buy into the campaign:  Asking Rotarians to pay a one-time fee of $10 – $15 to pay for an ad campaign is ridiculous.  They will quit Rotary and we will lose more members than we gain with the campaign.

9.  Large clubs in urban areas will disproportionately benefit from the campaign:  Large clubs have the money to contribute to the campaign and urban areas will likely get more targeted ads than clubs in rural areas.  It just isn’t fair to all concerned.

10.  Rotary clubs won’t care about the campaign:  Rotarians in many clubs simply don’t care about growing their Rotary clubs anymore and won’t participate in the campaign in terms of holding membership events, posting to their websites, and using social media.

Answers: 1) The membership campaign is extremely inexpensive compared to another twenty-five years of watching our organization stagnate.  To put this in perspective, Rotary just spent $1 million on a polio documentary called, Drop To Zero, that I doubt anyone will ever see.  2) This is one of my favorite excuses for Rotarians not to do anything different.  It doesn’t dignify an answer.  3) I recently produced a documentary where three RI Presidents basically decided it would be a good idea to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.  I’m guessing we could find a few leaders that would OK a small advertising campaign. 4) Yes, we would have to invest money in experts to design the campaign.  Next question. 5) See question #3.  At some point Rotary leaders will realize that how much we contribute to our Foundation and how much good we do in the world is directly proportional to the number of members in our organization.   6) As proposed the money for ad buys would come primarily from Rotary districts.  RI would only pay for creating the ads.  They could produce content that was useable for every district in the world at $20,000 for the basic ad plus whatever it costs to modify it for each market.  It’s very doable.  7) Digital advertising is one of the fastest growing ad techniques in the world used by just about everyone.  Rotary won’t know it doesn’t work until we try it.  8)  Once Rotarians understand the scope of this program they will give Rotary leaders a standing ovation and gladly contribute. 9) Digital ads and streaming TV allow for ads to be distributed to the entire internet-using audience, 10) Rotarians care deeply about growing their clubs.  They simply want some help in getting the message out to their community.

So there you go.  Everything you need to know about how to cure Rotary’s membership ills.  I have no idea what my next post will be about, but I guarantee it will contain the definitive solution to some other important Rotary challenge.  The Rotary fun never stops!

If you like the idea of a Rotary ad campaign, why not forward a link to last week’s blog post to Rotary leaders in your area?

This post was brought to you by the one of the best Rotary membership opportunities you’ve ever seen, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became The Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.  This one-hour documentary will inspire viewers to learn more about Rotary and better appreciate what we do to Do Good in the World.  See it now at  

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Membership Part 3: A Comprehensive Rotary Marketing Campaign (Including Advertising!)


I’m certain that the biggest complaint that I’ve heard from Rotary clubs in my twenty-plus years in Rotary is, “why can’t Rotary advertise for new members?”  The short answer has been it’s too expensive, and Rotary is diversified across so many countries that developing a message that works in every market is impossible.  Last week’s blog, Overcoming the 14% Attrition Hurdle,  makes the case that the status quo of growing through  person- to- person selling strategies has failed because it doesn’t scale to numbers large enough to offset the 14% of Rotarians who leave Rotary every year.

Why not explore using the newest advertising techniques to help solve Rotary’s membership development issues?  I asked advertising expert,  Darren Easton, Vice President/Creative Director of Cyphers Agency in Crofton, Md., to help me pull together some numbers on what an advertising campaign for Rotary might look like.  I think you might be surprised.

NOTE:  This is a blog post is meant to entertain, educate, and inspire. The ideas explored below are meant to open a conversation about Rotary advertising and does not constitute a formal proposal.  Some settling of contents may occur during shipping.  Past performance does not guarantee future returns, etc., etc., etc.

In our hypothetical membership campaign, advertising would be coordinated with event marketing and public image marketing to drive prospects to our Rotary sales force (our clubs and members.)  Think of marketing as filling a funnel of prospective members that eventually drip out of the bottom of the funnel as qualified prospective members.  The elephant in the room when discussing advertising, is that unlike event marketing (holding membership events like Happy Hours) or social media-based public image campaigns, advertising requires a significant upfront investment both in experts to design the campaign and to make media buys.  Therefore, you have to look at evaluating the success of an advertising campaign through the lens  of what it costs to acquire a new member.  And that raises an interesting question….what is a new member worth?

The campaign would consist of using a new twist on traditional advertising combined with  digital programmatic advertising, along with Rotary clubs and members using social media and their rotary club websites, to significantly increase brand awareness for Rotary membership.  The advertising campaign would direct prospective members to Rotary clubs that schedule marketing events like Happy Hours or other events where prospects can meet Rotarians and learn about specific Rotary clubs.  Or, of course, prospects could be directed to visit participating rotary clubs.  In any event, the equation is advertising + social media = increased brand awareness = filling a marketing funnel of qualified and interested Rotary prospects being directed to our Rotary salesforce of Rotary clubs and members = significant increase in rotary membership.

A New Twist on a Traditional Advertising Campaign

Check out this recent ad for the Maryland Masons.  It’s been running on cable TV in Maryland for a long time, or at least long enough that I recognize it and so do most of my Rotary club members.  According to Darren Easton it probably cost the Masons more than $250,000 for the campaign….too expensive for us! Needless to say it is still very expensive to advertise on TV.  In addition to the media buy, Darren estimates it would cost $15 – $20,000 to produce a similar quality ad promoting Rotary membership.  The Masons produced several different ads for this campaign and you can find them on YouTube if you are interested.

Admit it…after watching this ad aren’t you at least a little curious to find out more about being a Maryland Mason?

Darren recommends Rotary consider a new twist on traditional TV advertising.  A new way to approach TV ads is to place an Over-The-Top (OTT) media buy that allows you to advertise on multiple streaming networks and can be highly targeted to our potential Rotary  audience of 40 – 60 year olds.  (or whatever demographic we are most interested in.)  Streaming content is found on smart TV’s and streaming devices like Apple TV and Roku, streaming networks like Amazon Prime and Hulu, and apps offered by traditional networks such as ESPN, AMC, TBS, etc.  Here’s a recent buy Darren’s firm just completed for an actual client:

Spot length: 30 seconds

Targeting: Ages 35-54 in the Baltimore market

Timeline: 9 weeks (November to December)

Impressions: 436,000 (how many individual viewers saw the ad)

Budget: $20,000

Distribution: AMC, TNT, Hulu, A&E, NatGeo, FX, local network and “a bunch more included in this package.”

Needless to say, $20,000 to reach 436,000 viewers is a different conversation than spending a quarter of a million for traditional cable TV advertising.

Programmatic and Facebook Advertising Campaign

At the same time Rotary runs the OTT ads on streaming TV, it would launch a digital advertising campaign that supports the brand awareness we create with our OTT  advertising.  You would recognize these ads as the pop-up ads you see while you are on the internet.  You are likely to see them because digital advertising is very advanced in terms of targeting the demographic and geographic location of internet users.  Programmatic ads could be coupled with ads on Facebook to create a comprehensive digital campaign.  All of our advertising would direct prospective members to what is called a landing page that would give prospects more information about Rotary and link them to individual Rotary clubs in the prospect’s geographic area.  Here are some sample costs to run a digital campaign:

Time: September through November

Placement Type: Targeted Facebook Advertising

Total Impressions: 98,000

Clicks assuming a 1% click through rate: 980 (Click through rate is the number of people who click on the ad to find out more about it.)

Hard Cost: $503

Cost per Click: $0.49

Time: September through November

Placement Type: Programmatic Banner Ads

Total Impressions: 3,200,000

Clicks assuming a 0.03% click through rate: 960

Hard Cost: $16,000

Cost per Click: $16.66

Hypothetical Result of Advertising Alone:  This campaign sends a Rotary message to approx. 3.7 million people and theoretically gets close to 2,500 prospects to click through to our landing page.  Assuming 3% of these prospects ultimately become Rotarians, we would have spent $36,500 in media buys to recruit 75 new Rotarians so our cost of acquisition would be $486 per Rotarian, not including $25 – $35,000 of one-time production costs and agency costs.  I am using very conservative assumptions here.  With such large numbers the number of new members from the campaign alone could be much higher.  In a perfect world, Rotary International could pick up the development costs for the ads and local Districts could pick up the media buys.

This  hypothetical campaign would cost a 2,000 member District a one-time assessment of $18 per member to fund the campaign and a 3,000 member District could ask $12 of each member.  Asking members to contribute gets them to have some “skin in the game” and perhaps a different level of “ownership” in the membership campaign.  And of course, the campaign could be scaled based on each District’s enthusiasm for the media buys and based on their financial strength.  If Rotary International helped to fund content creation, the cost to acquire new members would fall to very low dollar amounts.

Social Media and Club Support

We could expect that Rotarians and Rotary clubs would enthusiastically support this campaign at the club level.  In fact, I believe that Rotary leaders at the District and Zone level who implement this campaign would inspire and motivate Rotary clubs to a much higher level of engagement with membership than we have seen in the past.  Clubs would be encouraged to use the same social media tools we have been teaching for years to reach out to their personal networks with the same brand message we develop for the ad campaign.  Rotary club websites would also be encouraged to either embed the video for the OTT TV ad or the art for the digital ad campaign.  Ironically, inspiring clubs to actually use these marketing tools would increase membership with or without the ad campaign.

It’s not hard to imagine all of this content residing on Rotary Brand Central at  Clubs would also be asked to schedule membership events during the campaign so prospective members would have a “mid-funnel” method of developing a relationship with local clubs.

Assessing the Comprehensive Campaign

You could make the case that a Rotarians have never rallied around a membership campaign in the way I’ve suggested above.  When members see advertisements about joining Rotary while watching streaming TV and when they see pop up advertisements while surfing the internet, they will be excited to see that Rotary is finally doing something to help them.  It is not hard to imagine a different focus on membership at the club level and a far better close rate of prospective members joining clubs based on this new focus on membership.  Since we’ve already established that a typical 2,000 member district needs to come up with an additional 1% of members, (20 or more) to move to positive membership growth, the bar for success in this new campaign would be relatively low.

It is also difficult to quantify the results of millions of people learning about Rotary through the ad campaign.  What is the value of Rotary’s enhanced brand recognition to a small club when they do their next fundraiser after the campaign runs?  It’s not hard to imagine ticket sales would dramatically increase as more members of the community recognize what Rotary is and what we stand for.

It all sounds great, doesn’t it?  Well….I can think of lots of reasons why it wouldn’t work.  I’ll get into all of that in my next and (mercifully) last post on the subject of “why can’t Rotary advertise for new members?”

This blog post is brought to you by Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication. This documentary is one of the best marketing tools your club can use to increase Rotary awareness in your community.  Learn more about it at 

Read Part 1 of this series of posts about Rotary membership, Complacency and Low Performance Expectations.

You can subscribe to the Ready, Fire, Aim Rotary blog and receive notifications of new posts directly to your inbox by clicking on the subscribe button near the blog text.

Membership Part 2: Overcoming the 14% Attrition Hurdle

Sales is the art of persuading someone to buy a product or service.  When we ask someone to come to a Rotary meeting or a Rotary event and the person agrees to come, we’ve closed a “sale.”  Rotary has employed a sales-based growth model from the very beginning.  We ask our members to ask people they know to join our club.  Why not?  We were all asked to join Rotary ourselves so why not rely on the same methods to recruit new members?

Surprisingly the data suggests that the sales model is a huge success in getting new members to join Rotary clubs.  Last week I introduced you to my friend and membership data geek, Terry Weaver, who is Assistant Coordinator for Zone 33.  According to Terry’s membership data in Zone 33, and RI’s data about international membership, we grow new members at a rate of approximately 13% – 14% per year.  Many business owners (including myself) would be more than happy with organic growth rates in the low teens.  There must be something that resonates about our Rotary story to attract such a large amount of new members.

If Terry is correct, a typical 2,000 member Rotary district is adding approximately 260 to 280  new Rotarians (13% – 14%) each year.  And a typical 3,000 member Rotary district is adding 390 to 420 new members each year.  WOW!

Unfortunately, even though we are attracting 13% – 14% new members, we are LOSING 14% – 15% of current members.  This one percent annual attrition (14% annual member growth less 15% annual member attrition) has resulted in the decades long decline in North American membership.  Our hypothetical 2,000 member district that added 260 new members lost 280 members for a net loss of 20 members.

Importantly, according to Terry, when you break down the attrition data in Zone 33 it shows that 10% of the 14% total (more than 70% of the members who leave) will leave due to structural reasons like death, disability, moving to another area, etc.  In other words, we can’t do anything about it.

Notably, one important growth strategy would be to forget about recruiting additional new members above the current 13% – 14% growth rate and instead focus on the 80 Rotarians in a 2,000 member district (4%) who quit the organization for non-structural reasons, ie., because they are not engaged with their clubs.

Can we use current membership techniques to overcome the 14% membership attrition barrier?  We’ve had random occurrences of clubs that experience explosive growth using sales-based techniques.  Terry has a great term for them, “lightening strikes.”  For reasons that are hard to identify, a new club president motivates a particular club and membership increases exponentially.  But for the past several decades, many strong Rotary leaders have tried and failed to overcome the 14% barrier on a consistent basis.  It’s time to consider something new and different.  (I know, I know….new and different isn’t exactly our strength.)

So, next week we will explore a new paradigm for membership that launches Rotary past our sales-based model and uses modern marketing techniques to organize our entire membership into a motivated, enthusiastic, growth machine.  Stand by as we dive into public image, social media, brand awareness, traditional advertising, and why Rotary needs to learn how to use state-of-the-art digital advertising tools to drive consumers to our Rotary clubs.  And yes, Rotary International has a bigger role in this marketing effort.  Can you spell C O N T E N T?  Should be an interesting post.  Hope you join me.

This post is brought to you by the amazing, one-hour documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.  Rent for $4.95 or buy for $25 to support PolioPlus and entertain, motivate, and educate Rotarians about Rotary’s incredible history in making the decision to eradicate polio.  Click here to learn more: Dare to Dream. 

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Event marketing is a specialty in itself.  To learn more about it, read my November 2016 post; How to Properly Follow-Up Your Membership Event.





Rotary Membership Part 1: Complacency and Low Performance Expectations

PDG Terry Weaver in full teaching mode.

Its been a few weeks since I returned from the Zone 33-34 Leadership Summit where I had a chance to catch up with my DG 2015-16 classmates and rub shoulders with a whole lot of Rotarians who are smarter than I am about just about everything. What fun!

My last RFA post was a reprint of a blog by Jim Henry, Is Rotary International Following Sears, where Jim makes the case that Rotary’s membership woes can’t be fixed without a major overhaul of the entire organization’s philosophy about the role of RI and how it supports individual Rotary clubs.  Today I want to share some correspondence with my friend, Terry Weaver, who is an Assistant Coordinator in Zone 33.  Terry works in the trenches with Rotary Districts and clubs on membership and is one of my favorite Rotary data wonks.  Terry can be intense and opinionated, but he always backs up his point of view with solid data.

 Here’s Terry’s take on the subject of Rotary membership.  


Great to talk with you this morning.  Attached is the breakdown of net member gain (loss) among Zone 33 districts and all NA Zones for 2017-18.

District 7/1/17 Member Gain/Loss Member % Gain/Loss
Mbrs 2017-18 2017-18
7530 – Northern WV 1,132 -71 -6.27%
7550 – Southern WV 1,047 14 1.34%
7570 – Western VA 3,279 20 0.61%
7600 – Southeast VA 2,707 -18 -0.66%
7610 – Northern VA 2,185 -19 -0.87%
7620 – Central MD/Washington DC 2,164 17 0.79%
7630 – Delaware/MD Eastern Shore 1,544 -37 -2.40%
7670 – Western NC 2,197 -16 -0.73%
7680 – West Central NC 2,670 -40 -1.50%
7690 – Central NC 2,489 17 0.68%
7710 – Raleigh 1,936 27 1.39%
7720 – North Eastern NC 1,495 18 1.20%
7730 – Southeastern NC 1,850 -29 -1.57%
7750 – Upstate SC 2,657 -3 -0.11%
7770 – Central & East SC 3,827 -70 -1.83%
Total 33,179 -190 -0.57%
Zones in the USA 7/1/17 Member Gain/Loss Member % Gain/Loss
Mbrs 2017-18 2017-18
Zone 21A – South Texas 17421 -478 -2.74%
Zone 24 – North US / Canada 29145 -640 -2.20%
Zone 25 – Northwest 28037 -349 -1.24%
Zone 26 – Southwest 28624 -501 -1.75%
Zone 27 – West Central 28287 -328 -1.16%
Zone 28 – North Central 29570 -483 -1.63%
Zone 29 – NorthCentral/East 29309 -606 -2.07%
Zone 30: East Central 31267 -542 -1.73%
Zone 31: South Central 30030 -744 -2.48%
Zone 32: Northeast 31270 -695 -2.22%
Zone 33: Mid-Atlantic 33179 -190 -0.57%
Zone 34: Southeast & Caribbean 32790 -369 -1.13%
USA Totals 350067 -7,063 -2.02%

These are NET, meaning they’re the difference between attrition rates and attraction rates. For the most part, the District gains/losses are ridiculously low — like +20 to – 20 (about 1%). Let’s step back for a BIG PICTURE look:

So, a typical 2,000 member District loses about 300 members (15%) a year, and somehow replaces 280 to 320 for a net loss or gain of about 20. How can that be? If you can find 300 members, why can’t you find 350? It’s not like you don’t know how. You’re just stopping short of success.

A typical 30,000 member Zone loses about 4,500 members a year and somehow replaces 4,000 of them for a net loss of 500. How can it be that we can find 4,000 new Rotarians across multiple states, but we can’t find 4,500 or 5,000?

Why? John Kotter’s #1 reason for organizational change failure — COMPLACENCY, manifested as LOW PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS. (Authors Note:  John Kotter, “Leading Change.”)  A net loss of 2 members per year is within the threshold of pain for most clubs. That’s how a club gets from 40 to 30 over 5 years and isn’t concerned by that. Extrapolate that across a District and you see what you get. The typical club simply doesn’t GET that growth should be their expectation, doesn’t CARE that it’s slowly going out of business or doesn’t KNOW HOW to change from a culture of mediocrity to one of success.

That’s why we start Zone 33 Membership Summits with a morning of re-setting expectations. That’s the root cause of our membership issues.

Ken, I’m not sure a PR or Social Media campaign will grow an organization that expects so little of itself. Rather than a campaign to persuade strangers to join us, what might we get from a campaign to persuade our members that it’s actually worth growing their Rotary clubs?

For your consideration,


Do you agree with Terry?  If we could just somehow change the level of complacency in our clubs and change our low performance expectations, we could make a huge positive difference in Rotary membership?  I think the answer is obviously yes….if we could do it.  And no….creative and strong leaders have been trying to make these changes for decades and they haven’t succeeded.

Over the next two posts I’m going to make the case for a paradigm shift in how Rotary approaches membership growth.  Stay tuned…..



Is Rotary International Following Sears?

If you are one of the many Rotarians who read Jim Henry’s blog, Retention Central, you will recognize the title of Jim’s October 15th Rotatorial, Is Rotary International Following Sears?  Jim is one of my favorite reads when it comes to issues regarding Rotary in general and more specifically, Rotary membership.  I think his blog is so popular because he expresses his opinions with a degree of fearlessness, clarity, and expertise that is highly valued by those who care about Rotary.  He has a lot of interesting ideas to share.  By my count he’s published 262 posts since 2010 and while I can’t claim to have read them all, the posts I have read unfailingly inspire me to think and rethink how we go about growing Rotary.

Jim’s Rotary cred is pretty much off the charts.  He’s a past District Governor and has won many of the most prestigious and coveted Rotary awards for service.  I can’t recall ever meeting Jim in person, but over the years we’ve struck up some terrific email conversations about our respective blogs about membership, marketing, branding, etc.  I’ve been giving some thought to how to best introduce you, my loyal RFA readers, to Jim and his sometimes controversial views about Rotary.  Plan A was to give you this link to Jim’s most recent post on Retention Central, Is Rotary International Following Sears?  But instead, I think I’ll go with Plan B and reprint the entire post here (with Jim’s permission) to save you a click.  Take it away, Jim…

Is Rotary International Following Sears?

I am often asked two questions:

  1. Why do I think Rotary International’s (RI) membership in North America and other legacy regions declined?
  2. Do I believe RI is in a permanent membership stalemate or decline?

My response to the first question is that I believe that RI’s fundamental problem goes back to the late 1980s when it began:

    • moving away from its core business of chartering and supporting local Rotary clubs,
    • abandoning the pursuit of its niche market – business, professional, and community leaders, and
    • restructuring operations in an attempt to become a worldwide service organization.

My response to the second question depends upon how its leaders vision RI’s future.  I suspect that RI will continue on its present course until leadership accepts that RI did indeed make these mistakes and aggressively pursues resolutions to each issue.  Along this avenue, I am aware that seminars around the world discuss variations of this question:  Is Rotary a service organization with members, or is it a member organization that performs service?

 If RI chooses to travel the path of being a service organization with members, it will continue to struggle.  Local clubs, the pistons that drive RI’s worldwide engine of influence, will gradually cease renewing charters because of falling membership. That will continually weaken RI’s ability to attract sufficient supporters, which will make it difficult for RI to sustain as an influential worldwide service organization.

If RI centers ALL activities on being a member-driven network of local Rotary clubs that perform community and worldwide service, then I believe it has a chance of having a long, influential future.  Some of RI’s present senior leaders are trying to influence change along these lines.  In an organization as diverse at RI, overcoming long-held philosophies, customs, and priorities is not easy, particularly with frequent changes in leadership.  In fact, it may be impossible for RI to alter its present course without completely restructuring core practices, mind-sets, and operations.  On the positive side, RI does have a basic worldwide structure already in place that could accelerate change, but all of RI’s departments, committees, administrative districts, and attributes MUST support pursuing a singular, differentiating objective.

Is RI going to continue to follow Sears?  What do you think?

Hmmm….what do I think?  I think that abandoning our niche market of business, professional, and community leaders, has been a real problem for Rotary.  I recently wrote about it on RFA and if you missed it you can read my thoughts here: Rotary International – Getting Back to Business.  

I’ll tackle whether Rotary is, as Jim says, “moving away from its core business of chartering and supporting local Rotary clubs,” and “restructuring operations in an attempt to become a worldwide service organization,” in a later post.  For now, I just wanted to thank Jim for being a leader of the conversation and for being an inspiration to many of us.

Next stop is the Zone Institute for Zone’s 33 and 34.  I’m looking forward to seeing my DG 2015-16 classmates!

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Please feel free to share your Rotary ideas and comments below.




Two Movie Nights & (at least) $20,000 raised for Polio Eradication

The big screen at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, Md.

Last week the Rotary world celebrated World Polio Day.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to celebrate along with two different groups of Rotary clubs.  Both evenings featured a Movie Night event where excited Rotarians watched the polio documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became The Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, and then collectively raised $22,000 for polio eradication.  On October 24th I shared the evening with the Rotary Club of Easton and their neighboring clubs on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and on October 25th I was invited to hang out with the Rotary clubs north of Baltimore, including my friends in the Rotary clubs of Aberdeen, Bel Air, Havre de Grace, Southern Harford County, and Middle River.

I’ve previously written about the plans for the Easton club’s Movie Night.  If you are interested in planning a similar event you can check out that post by clicking  HERE.  Special thanks to Richie Wheatley, President of the Rotary Club of Easton, my friend John Nanni, who always inspires everyone around him while living with post-polio syndrome, and Tim Kagan, who shared an amazing slide show while discussing doing NID’s in India.  I would like to think the star of the show was the film itself, but I’m afraid the real star was the Avalon Theatre in Easton.  What an amazing venue to watch the film and discuss Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio. (I happen to be a big fan of Kathy Mattea and just want to say that Dare to Dream got to the Avalon just three days before she did!)

As the residents of the Eastern Shore of Maryland will gladly share with you, once you cross the Bay Bridge heading east and get to the “other” side of the Chesapeake Bay, life slows down and people tend to be, well…..nicer.  Here are a bunch of pictures from their event.  Notably, they raised funds from ticket sales AND they featured twelve different sponsors on their program.  According to their website they raised $16,200 for polio eradication AND a great time was had by all.  Great job!

From Left: Co-Chair George Hatcher, Chair Richie Wheatley, Past President Tim Kagan, Yours Truly

The next evening I journeyed to Towson University’s building on the Harford Community College campus (I know its confusing but just go with me here) to watch the movie with the Harford County clubs.  Here’s Nick Champagne, President of the Bel Air club,  to properly introduce you to their event.

This event reminded me of the Dare to Dream premier last October because we held the premier on the campus of Howard Community College in a high-tech lecture hall very similar to the one they used to show the film at Towson.  If you are thinking of doing a Movie Night event, check out the local Community College as a venue.  In both of these cases, the college donated the venue for FREE.

Another technique to copy was they used Eventbrite for RSVPs to Movie Night.  AG Sheryl Davis Kohl told me they used the Eventbrite data to make certain individual Rotarians got their Paul Harris credit for their polio donation.  $2,000 in ticket sales plus the Gates match meant $6,000 for polio eradication that evening.  Not bad for a fun night at the movies!

I’m afraid I didn’t take as many pictures that night, but here’s a few to share.

Treasurer Jim Weber armed with Pennies for Polio bucket and the always welcomed raffle tickets.

From my perspective the only thing missing from both events was a strong effort to promote the evening to non-Rotarians.  Once they saw the film both groups agreed that showing Dare to Dream to prospective Rotarians is a fantastic way to introduce them to Rotary.  If you consider doing your own Movie Night, remember that there are professionally designed and downloadable movie posters and customizable fliers announcing your event available on the Dare to Dream website.

You hear a lot nowadays about “polio  fatigue,” the disorder that occurs when Rotarians are tired of talking about polio eradication.  There were no signs of it last week as both events were filled with enthusiastic Rotarians eager to learn about our Rotary polio heritage.  Thanks to all for a memorable World Polio Day celebration!

To rent or purchase the Dare to Dream documentary, and learn how to produce your own Movie Night event to raise money for polio eradication, recruit new members, and raise the visibility of your club in your community, go to the website.

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The World’s Greatest (Non-Retired) Rotarian You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Sever during shoot for Dare to Dream documentary

OK…so I might be overstating things a bit, but it’s World Polio Day (give or take a day or two, depending on when you read this) and I want to celebrate one of my Rotary heroes.  Dr. John Sever is not likely to be pleased that I’m writing this post with this particular title.  In fact, John would violently disagree with the entire notion that he is “greater” than any other Rotarian.  Well…..too bad.  If anyone on the planet deserves the title, it’s John.

Dr. John Sever does not like to be singled out for his accomplishments in Rotary’s polio eradication effort, and goes out of his way to remind others that polio eradication is a team accomplishment.   I know this, because our one hour documentary about polio eradication, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, was originally supposed to be a 10-minute film tribute to John.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) for us, John made it quite clear that he had no interest in participating in any such project.  He did refer me to Sarah Gibbard Cook, author of Rotary and the Gift of a Polio Free World, and from there the research, and our story, reflected the many “Founding Fathers” of Rotary’s polio eradication success.

But John’s contribution to polio eradication is unique.  RI President 1977-78, Jack Davis, had the great idea to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Rotary on a global scale.  RI President 1978-79, Clem Renouf, had the terrific idea of creating the 75th anniversary fund and the 3-H Committee to fund global service projects in honor of the 75th anniversary.  But when Renouf wanted to know if Rotary could eradicate a disease in a similar fashion to how the WHO eradicated small pox, he knew he would ask Dr. John Sever, District Governor of Rotary District 7620, and Chief of the Infectious Disease Branch of the National Institute of Health, in Washington, DC.  It was John who formally suggested to President Renouf in a letter dated May of 1979 that Rotary take on the job of eradicating polio worldwide.

Excerpt for Sever’s May 1979 letter to RI President Clem Renouf recommending poliomyelitis as a single vaccine for Rotary.

(Note: One month before John penned his letter the 3-H committee formally recommended, and the RI board approved, a 5-year, $760,000 polio vaccination program in the Philippines.  Clearly many other important and visionary Rotary leaders were engaged with the idea that Rotary should become involved with polio eradication.)

How crazy is that?  The guy who wrote the famous letter (well…it should be famous even though most Rotarians have never seen it) to RI President Renouf recommending that “if Rotary was going to consider eradicating an infectious disease, that he would recommend polio” is still alive, and still a leader, in Rotary’s polio eradication effort.

John was one of the early members of the 3-H committee and when President Clem asked him to present the idea that polio eradication should be the top 3-H priority to the RI board, John accepted the challenge.  The board passed the idea unanimously.

When 1981 RI President Stan McCaffrey asked Cliff Dochterman (RI President 1992-93 and original member of the 3-H Committee), to chair the New Horizon committee, to make recommendations about how Rotary should celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rotary in 2005, it was John’s letter reminding the committee that the RI board had already approved polio eradication as a top priority that carried the day. The New Horizon’s committee consequently recommended polio eradication as Rotary’s goal for our 100th anniversary in 2005.

In 1984-85 RI President Carlos Canseco asked John to chair the newly created Polio 2005 Committee.  It’s hard for us to believe now, but when the committee was created Rotary still didn’t know how it would go about eradicating polio.  The committee  decided that Rotary would utilize Sabin’s mass vaccination model to eradicate polio in countries approved by the 3-H committee.  Additionally, Rotary would raise money for vaccine and provide experts for social mobilization.  Finally, Rotary would work closely in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, CDC, etc.  In short, John’s committee, working closely with Albert Sabin and Carlos Canseco, put together the structure of a campaign that would last for more than thirty years and become the most successful global health partnership in history.

John worked with RI Executive Secretary, Herb Pigman, and Director of UNICEF, Jim Grant, to work out the budget for polio eradication which became the fundraising goal for the Polio 2005 campaign.  As John tells the story, it took them about twenty minutes to come up with a figure of $120 million, based on six doses of vaccine for 500 million children at four cents per dose. John has lots of unbelievable stories like that.   If you see him, ask him about being thrown out of a meeting in Geneva by the Director General of the WHO.  Or watching Albert Sabin storm out of a contentious dinner at a DC restaurant with the Director of the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) of the WHO.  Turns out Sabin and EPI Director, Rafe Henderson, had dramatically different visions about eradicating a single disease, like polio.  (Henderson graciously allowed us to interview him for Dare to Dream and allowed us to tell our polio story through a different point of view in the film.)

Sever and Albert Sabin

In January of 1985 John was asked to travel to Geneva, along with Dr. Hector Acuna, to learn that  Rotary had been recognized as an NGO in formal partnership with WHO.  This significant achievement was critical because it gave Rotary the recognition it needed to explain who we were to Health Ministers around the world and get them to buy into our mass immunization model.

If all of the above seems like ancient history, it’s important to note that John remains one of Rotary’s most effective and energetic advocates for polio eradication.  He is credited with being a major force in helping to raise money from the U.S. Congress, and can still be found occasionally chairing the U.S. Congressional Polio Eradication Champions awards held annually at the U.S. Capitol.  Amazingly, he still travels the world staying current on all matters related to polio advocacy and the International Polio Plus Committee.  If you call him, don’t be surprised if he is boarding a flight to Geneva (or elsewhere)  to participate in another important polio meeting.

Try to imagine writing a letter in May of 1979 in response to a request from the RI President, where you wrote, “If a single vaccine were to be selected for the 3-H program , I would recommend poliomyelitis.”  Then imagine still being a leader in Rotary’s polio eradication efforts more than thirty-nine years later.  Wow.

If they haven’t seen Dare to Dream, or read Sarah’s book, Rotary and the Gift of a Polio Free World, then not one in thousands of Rotarians knows who Dr. John Sever is or what he has meant to Rotary.  He was never an RI President, never Chair of the Rotary Foundation, and never in the public eye.  For me, what’s hardest to imagine is that John sincerely doesn’t care about this lack of recognition.  He is the most humble man I’ve ever met, considering his titanic accomplishments.  He truly believes what Past RI President, Cliff Dochterman, says in the Dare to Dream documentary;  “if you don’t ask for the credit, you can accomplish anything.”

If you happen to see John in or around October 24th, please don’t rat me out and tell him about this blog.  But you might wish him Happy World Polio Day and thank him for his unbelievable contribution to Rotary and to the children of the world.

If you want to learn more about Rotary’s extraordinary history, you can rent or buy the documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, by clicking here.
You can purchase Sarah Gibbard Cook’s book, Rotary and the Gift of a Polio Free World, Vol. I, by clicking here.

If you have your own ideas about who might be considered “the world’s greatest living Rotarian that no one has ever heard of,” even though you agree with John (and me, not withstanding the title of this particular post) that the title is silly and inappropriate, why not honor that person with a comment below?  We would all like to hear about him or her.

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Rotary International – Getting “Back to Business”

In the “good old days” of Rotary, if you started a business in town one of the first things you did was to join the local Rotary club.  Business owners knew Rotary was a place to network with other businesses in the community.  It was THE place to be seen.  Business leaders vied to be Rotary Club president, which implied that you were at the very top of the business pyramid in your city.  Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, Rotary membership is far from the prized possession it was decades ago in the business community.  Maybe its time to refocus on the business market for new members.

With that in mind, here is a blog I just posted on the Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent website.  Maybe you can steal a few of these ideas and share them with the business owners in your town.  Rotary has a fantastic story to share with local business owners.  It’s time we believed enough in ourselves to ask the business leaders in our community to join Rotary.

Back in the day Rotary membership was a prized position for business owners in most communities in the United States. Membership was so competitive that Rotary rules limited the number of members from any one industry or profession (Rotary calls them “classifications”) in order to ensure that Rotary club membership included a broad and diversified exposure to the business community. To be a Rotary club president was to be at the very top of the business pyramid, both socially and economically, and only the true leaders of the business community were awarded the position. Business owners fully understood the value of Rotary membership in terms of prestige, public image, and networking. Perhaps more importantly, it allowed them to be a meaningful part of the solution to many issues and concerns in their local community.

Today things are different. Both Rotary International and business leaders face some serious challenges with public image. Rotary is often lumped together with all of the other “old fashioned” fraternal organizations where the image of community service is somehow linked to wearing the lodge hat of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes last seen in the Flintstones. Business owners wrongly believe that the time commitment required for Rotary membership is inflexible, onerous, and consequently not feasible for busy executives. They don’t understand the value proposition that was so important to previous generations of business owners.

Of course over the past several years business leaders have had to struggle with their own image challenge.  In a world of ever increasing income inequality, and where the public perception of “one percenters” is becoming more negative on a daily basis, being a business owner is often lumped in with ugly connotations of being disinterested and disconnected with the local community. The “old fashioned” notion of corporate responsibility to local citizens is being replaced by the perception that businesses only care about shareholder value and are not nearly as interested in “Main Street.”  It has never been more important for business leaders to connect with their local community and be seen as part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.  

It’s time that Rotary and business reconnect for all the right reasons which, ironically, are the same reasons membership was so popular with businesses years ago.

This post is brought to you by MOVIE NIGHT.

There is still time for your Rotary Club to celebrate World Polio Day by having a MOVIE NIGHT.  The Movie Night event is simple, fun, and effective in helping you introduce Rotary to your community.  Show the new polio documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, and raise funds for polio eradication, recruit new members, and promote your Rotary club.  Go to to learn more about it.

The Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent is offering Howard County businesses a new opportunity for corporate membership. The goal is to make membership affordable, flexible, and valuable to a Howard County business that wants to make a positive impact locally and Internationally by serving others in need. For many businesses, the CEO and other top executives will want to add Rotary membership to their resume for the simple reason that they need to know the needs of the community if they are to serve it well, and because Rotary is the traditional organization to build business networks while doing community service. Since 1905 this recipe of service and networking has been a proven method of growing a business as well as enjoying the personal benefits of serving others.

Another way to take advantage of Rotary membership is to offer it to up and coming young professionals.  Rotary provides invaluable opportunities for taking on leadership roles for ambitious young executives while also providing networking opportunities to learn how other businesses are solving a variety of common business issues.   Young professionals can find a variety of role models and mentors in the local Rotary club, a particularly valuable benefit for Next-Gen business leaders.  Offering young professionals Rotary membership is a great value for business owners looking to develop the next generation of company leadership.  And offering the “perk” of Rotary membership shows young executives that a business cares about their personal and professional growth.

The secret to our corporate membership is this: up to four members of a local business or other organization can join as full members of Rotary but three of the four members pay significantly discounted dues of only $150 per year. (NOTE to RFA readers, this is our RI dues plus our District dues.)  Technically, the business entity does not become a Rotary member.  However, the business typically pays the dues for Rotary membership and gets a tax deduction. The arrangement works well for our Rotary club as we get to meet four members of a local business and consider them full members of our club.  We are eagerly looking for the leadership these new members will contribute.   And the arrangement is terrific for a local business in Howard County because:

1) Any of the four members can attend a meeting or all four are welcome at the same meeting, adding tremendous flexibility and reducing the time commitment of any one member.  (Note to RFA readers:  At the Col Pax club meal costs are included in dues.  If more than one corporate representative attends the meeting they pay for meals as they go.)

2) The price of membership is a fraction of the cost compared to all four executives paying full membership dues.

3) The business is well represented in the community and can participate in projects that they help design if they choose.

4) Executives get to meet and befriend other business leaders in the club, expanding their understanding of community needs and wants, as well as getting an insight into how businesses are addressing common concerns.

5) The networking opportunities in Rotary lead to important business contacts that can result in profitable business ventures in the future.

6)  Employees of the business recognize and appreciate the business’s commitment to serving others.  Even if employees don’t join the club, service becomes part of the corporate culture.

7) Rotary is a productive use of an executive’s time.  It is “one stop shopping” where membership can give executives exposure to many of the social issues and concerns in the local community, as opposed to joining a number of different boards in town, each with their own time and dollar commitment,  where each board is only interested in a specific non-profit or one specific social issue.

8) There is the personal benefit of knowing that you are helping others who may not have the means to help themselves.

Why not learn more about today’s Rotary? The Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent meets on Friday mornings at 7:30AM at the Interfaith Center across from Wilde Lake HS. Be our guest for breakfast. Or, feel free to contact Membership Chair, Sandy Harriman, at 301-775-2853 or email at”

Feel free to steal this prose, create your own flier, and by all means figure out how to get this message out to the businesses in your town.   Ask your club’s board to come up with your own corporate membership program, or feel free to use this structure.  It’s time for Rotary to get BACK TO BUSINESS!


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Electing a new RI Director for Zone’s 33-34

To be an RI Director is a big deal.  I mean a REALLY big deal.  These are the committed, really smart, highly motivated Rotarians who fly close to the sun, meeting with the RI President and forming RI’s Board of Directors for a two-year term.  Their mission is to figure out small matters like world peace.  This is in addition to running a couple of Zones comprised of thousands of Rotary clubs and tens of thousands of Rotary members.

But this article isn’t about RI Directors.  As we all know, they get their own page on their respective  Zone website so their stories are well known.  This post is about the nineteen stellar, courageous, informed, committed, highly evolved and highly professional Rotarians who elect the RI Directors.  Yes…this unsung crowd goes about their task in relative obscurity, neither needing or asking to be recognized.  But today we are going to explore, courtesy of your intrepid Ready, Fire, Aim reporter, how these brave souls go about electing a RI Director.

The first thing you need to know is that not just anyone gets to cast such an important vote.  Each Rotary District must elect their representative to the committee, and in order to be eligible you must meet several criteria, including being a Past District Governor and  attending a minimum number of Zone Institutes and International Conventions.  Once elected by your District, you become a member of the selection committee.  I should probably note that my DG class of 2015-16 had the biggest representation on the committee, with my friends Terry Weaver (7750), Newman Aguiar (7710), Rob Hemmen (7630), and Bob Pippen (7720), all making the cut. (Objectively speaking, we are a superior DG class who were privileged to serve with Past President, Ravi Ravindran, in Being A Gift To The World.) (But I digress.)

From left:  Terry Weaver, Newman Aguiar, LInda Fisher Bruce, Terry Wike, Vanessa Ervin, Lou Mello (Patty Meehan standing)

Another interesting factoid about this year’s selection committee challenge was that due to the recent global realignment of Zones, our Zone will have two directors on the RI Board in the 2020/21 Rotary year.  Our committee had to consider that the candidate we were selecting would be asked to co-convene the Zone Institute as a first-year Director in 2020.  In our “committee speak,” this meant that the candidate had to “play well in the sandbox.” The other result of the Zone realignment is that we had several representatives on the committee that were newbies to our Zone.  I’m pleased to report that Patty Meehan, 7280, Linda Fischer Bruce, 7300, Mary Berge, 7330, and Kelly Wike, 7360, proudly represented their Districts and seemed properly awed to be new members of the AMAZING Zone 33.

From left: Ranjit Mjumber, Rob Hemmen, Vivian Crymble, Patrick Eakes, Mary Berge, Gary Dills.

Our committee was convened by Chuck Arnason, PDG 13-14, from District 7600 on Saturday, September 22nd at the Hyatt Place Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.  Chuck’s job was essentially to “herd the cats,” and he did, by everyone’s account, a great job of keeping the committee organized, on-task, and on-time.  In fact, Chuck had to be elected by us as the Chair of the committee, which was the first order of business on Saturday morning.  Since no one else knew what the heck we were supposed to do, Chuck won in a landslide.

Chairman Chuck Arnason with Patty Meehan desperately trying to keep some order to the proceedings.

The next item on the agenda was for everyone to declare that we hadn’t been contacted by, or on behalf of, any candidate, or was aware of any effort to influence members of the nominating committee, either directly or indirectly, and, if so to bring these to the attention of the committee.  This declaration was my biggest personal test of the day since, as my readers know, I am far too immature to let an opportunity like this for a wisecrack and an easy laugh pass by.  However, I’m pleased to report that the gravity of the moment was so serious that even I managed to keep my mouth shut.  I simply didn’t mention that I received several offers of Rotary stock options from multiple candidates in exchange for my vote. (THIS IS A JOKE.  THIS IS A JOKE.  THIS IS A JOKE.)

Our next order of business was to agree on the questions we were going to ask the candidates.  The committee wanted to ask questions that required the candidates to explain their experience of accomplishments both inside and outside of Rotary.   The process of getting down to a total of five questions was difficult since there were so many interesting topics to explore.  We could come up with hardball or softball questions.  We could ask about membership, PR, training, vision, challenges, strategy, etc.  In fact, Rotary International provides suggested questions for the interview but our committee members quickly ascertained that our questions were superior in every way to Rotary International’s suggestions.  This was a natural outcome of ours being a superior selection committee.

From left: Juanita Cawley and Patty Meehan deciphering hanging chads as they tally the vote.

Official RI descriptions for hanging chads.  (NOTE:  There weren’t really any hanging chads.  This is just another failed attempt to be humorous.)

The last order of business before we began torturing the applicants was to agree on the interview process.  The most important item on the process agenda was fairness.  In order to be fair, each applicant was to be asked the exact same question, word for word, in the exact same order of questions.  Each committee member was given the honor of asking (reading) one of the questions to the candidates and we took turns throughout the day.  To be honest, I thought some committee members added more drama than others in reading the questions, but I don’t think it impacted the outcome.  No follow up questions were allowed as that was deemed to be unfair.  Just my opinion (and mine is the only one that counts because this is my blog) the process does a better job of being fair than it does selecting the best candidate.  Imagine hiring someone in your business without asking them incisive and penetrating follow-up questions about their past experience and future vision for the firm?  However, as we all know, this isn’t a business…it’s Rotary. And sometimes common sense is sacrificed in the best interests of all concerned.

And so it began.  One by one the candidates and their spouse took their seat at the front of the room and began their interviews.  For thirty minutes the candidates answered our questions to the best of their ability.  They were are all amazing, but as I said earlier, this post isn’t about them.

The deliberations about the candidates were reasoned, civil, and informed.  The voting process itself was interesting as there was a series of votes and each round eliminated one candidate.  By the end we had elected the next Director and an alternate Director.

White smoke at Hyatt Place Mary Washington indicating that we had elected a new Zone Director.

The last line in my written instructions for being on the committee under Section C. Subsequent to the Meeting, #4, says “Members of the committee are not to discuss with anyone their deliberations within the committee at any time or reveal the names of the nominee until after all candidates have been notified.”  I’m guessing it would be OK to reveal the name of our new Director, but I’m too terrified that I’m going to break another RI rule.  In fact, I’m sure this post already breaks several rules, policies, and procedures,  but I will claim ignorance and pray that I can still be a Rotarian.

(Unrelated Note: Rotary International does not reimburse expenses incurred to be on the selection committee.  However, Chuck Arnason did say we could keep the white notebook that held the meeting information.’s a nice notebook for those of us who will never go paperless.  Thanks, Chuck! )

Thanks to all of my fellow committee members for an amazing Rotary experience.  You did our Zone proud!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  I see where Peter Kyle from District 7620 has been announced as the new Director Nominee subject to challenge by December 1.  I must have been sleeping when they voted for this guy.  Congratulations, Peter.

This post is brought to you by MOVIE NIGHT, a great way to celebrate World Polio Day.  Go to and learn how to recruit new members, publicize your Rotary Club, and raise money for Polio Eradication, while having a whole lot of fun.  EVERYONE loves to go the movies!  Why not watch a film about Rotary and how we became the heart and soul of polio eradication?

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Errr….Umm…About the Rotary Logo…..

This is the Rotary logo in AZURE.  Did you know the color was AZURE?  Good way to win a Rotary trivia contest.  It’s a nice color.  Here’s another color-oriented trivia question about Crayola crayons.  Did you know what almost happened to everyone’s favorite color, burnt sienna?   In 1990 , for the first time in Crayola history eight colors were retired. … Four new colors were introduced for the next century: inchworm, mango tango, wild blue yonder, and jazzberry jam; Consumers voted to “Save the Shade” and saved burnt sienna from retirement. 

So….I propose that Rotary’s brand experts in Evanston spend $1 million on a focus group study to determine if changing the logo color to “mango tango” or “wild blue yonder” scores higher with millennials and might result in broader brand recognition and higher membership totals of  young professionals.  (I’m kidding of course.  “Inchworm” is the color that will put us over the top.)

On a more serious note, I recently received a nice note from a Rotarian Leon Cuzilla, Member of the Rotary Club of Mackay Sunrise.  I somewhat routinely, and to me still surprisingly, get notes from Rotarians all around the world who are fans of Ready, Fire, Aim.  In fact, it seems that its probably time to update my readers on the recent stats on the blog.  But not today.  I did look up the Mackay Sunrise Rotary Club and can report that you can find them at 1 Bridge Rd, Mackay QLD 4740, Australia.  Anyway, I think it best to tell this story using Leon’s own words, which he graciously agreed to allow me to quote.  Perhaps you can relate to this issue with using Rotary marks.  Thank you, Leon, for bringing this to my attention, AND for your kind words about RFA.

This is the Rotary mark of excellence in BLACK.  I still think it would look better in mango tango.

To which I responded:

Dear Leon,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful note.  I must say that I haven’t considered the impact of using the Rotary logo in the header for my blog.  The header was developed years ago when I first started on the District 7620 leadership team as a DGN in 2012-2013.  Since that time I’ve often sent copies of various posts to people in Evanston and no one ever brought up this issue.
I believe that you are absolutely correct in your observation.  First, let me make clear that the blog is entirely my view, based on my Rotary journey, and should in no way be confused with being an “official” Rotary commentary.  Secondly, as I look at it this morning, I don’t even think the logo is the updated and correct logo.  YIKES!
I will be working to correct this situation immediately so I thank you again for contacting me.  I am glad that your club found the post on club Foundations to be useful.  It is one of the most popular posts that I’ve published over the years.
Warmest Regards, 
Ken Solow
Rotary District Governor 2015-2016
Rotary District 7620

Visit “Ready, Fire, Aim” blog at

So there you go.  BUSTED!  You will note that the header of the blog no longer has the logo. (Thank you Rotarian Darren Easton, fellow club member of the Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent, and Creative Director of Cyphers Agency, the best advertising agency on the planet,  who bravely attempts to help me with my endless questions about graphics and other technical issues involved with digital marketing, The Ready, Fire, Aim Rotary Blog, and the website for Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.

As a Past District Governor, who was tasked with defending the Rotary mark during my year as DG, this was just another reminder of how easy it is to misuse the mark (both the logo and the mark of excellence) in our work of doing good in the world.  To download the latest in approved logos, click here to visit the Rotary Brand Center at MyRotary at  If you have questions about whether you are using the Rotary mark correctly, contact your District Leadership Team.

Turns out that the post that Leon was referring to about Rotary Foundations actually is one of the most popular posts in the RFA lineup.  You can read it here, Thought About Rotary Club Foundations. 

World Polio Day is right around the corner.  Why not consider joining with some other clubs in your community and holding a MOVIE NIGHT.  To learn more about this awesome opportunity to promote your Rotary club, engage your current members, recruit new members, and support Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio, go the website for the documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.

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