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 daretodreamfilm.com 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 sharrima1@verizon.net.”

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.  Hey..it’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 www.daretodreamfilm.com 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 www.kensolowrotary.com

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 Rotary.org.  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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Rotary’s Least Known Fund…The World Fund (Part II)

Welcome to Part II of the incredible story of the Rotary Foundation’s World Fund.  Special thanks, once again, to Rotary International Manager of Fundraising Analytics, Chad Stutsman.  If you missed Part I you can catch up by clicking HERE.

When we last left this saga, we found out that Rotary’s World Fund had a target of $190 million at the end of FY 2017.  We learned how the fund supported global grants, Rotary Peace Centers, and a few Partnerships.  Today’s post will focus on World Fund transfers, and what some of the numbers imply about individual Rotary Clubs and Rotary District’s  ability to creatively use our own funds to build worthy world peace projects.

Here is the financial statement we’ve been reviewing from FY 2017:

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International
World Fund spending
Fiscal Year 2017
(in US$ millions)

Program awards:
Global Grants                                                                                         $       33.6
Rotary Peace Centers                                                                                     1.8
Partnership Grants                                                                                          0.8
Original Grants and other (Note 1)                                                          (0.4)
Total                                                                                                                    35.8
Program operations (Note 2)                                                                    20.5
Transfers:
World Fund match to DDF transfers to PolioPlus                               3.5
World Fund transfer to Operating Reserve (Note 3)                         20.4

Note 1:  Original grants and other primarily includes cancelled grants and
unspent funds for prior year educational and humanitarian grants.
Note 2: Expenses to support grant activities.
Note 3:  Per TRF Code of Policy 24.050, if the World Fund balance exceeds the
World Fund Target, then the amount above the target will be transferred to the
Operating Reserve up to the Operating Reserve Target.

As we look at the statement the next thing we see under the total of Program awards is Program operations spending of $20.5 million.  To put that in some perspective, according to the 2017 Annual Report the Rotary Foundation spent 91% of funds on Program Awards and Operations, and 82% of funds on Program Awards.  Being the math genius that I am, I figure that means we spent 9% of funds on Operations which seems very reasonable to me.(Note:  I have no idea if my logic is correct about the 9% on Operations.  Charity Navigator doesn’t seem overly upset with us and we get their highest rating so that’s good enough for me.)

Which brings us to Transfers.  First up is $3.5 million to match District DDF transfers to Polio Plus.  Many Rotarians might not be aware that District Governors are encouraged to use 20% of their global DDF to support polio eradication each year.  One incentive to do it is knowing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matches each contribution by $2 – $1.  Yet another incentive is that Rotary Foundation matches each dollar of District DDF by 50 cents on the dollar from the World Fund.  The World Fund spent $3.5 million on DDF matching, so Districts must have kicked in somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million in DDF, and the total of DDF and the World Fund was $10.5 million.  Considering the Gates Foundation match, that comes out to more than $30 million for polio eradication, without considering our individual contributions.  WOW!

I wrote about the World Fund match more than four years ago in a post about the 350% return on our contributions to PolioPlus.  We’ve moved on to a different Gates challenge by now, but its still worth checking out.  http://kensolowrotary.com/2014/03/10/a-350-return-on-money-to-fight-polio-seriously/

PART II of this post about The Rotary Foundation World Fund is brought to you by:
MOVIE NIGHT!  
The best polio fundraiser, new member recruiter, and Rotary club promotion, to to mention World Polio Day celebration, ever devised for Rotarians.  To see why, you can now rent the outstanding documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication,  for three-days for only $4.99 AND get a free excerpt of the movie to show at your next Rotary meeting.  Click here to order your copy of Dare to Dream.

The last transfer to consider is the $20.4 million transfer to the Operating Reserve.  This transfer occurred because the World Fund balance was greater than the World Fund Target.  Notes 3 says this transfer to the Operating Reserve occurs up to the Operating Reserve Target.  What the heck is the Operating Reserve Target you ask?  Well….

The Operating Reserve Target is three times the budgeted Operating Expenses (Fund Development and General Administration expenses). At the end of FY2017, the Operating Reserve Target was $79.0M, or three times the FY2018 operating budget of $26.3M.
The Operating Reserve Balance at 30 June 2017 was $76.9M. You can read more about the objectives of the Funding Model Policy in Article 24 here: https://my.rotary.org/en/document/rotary-foundation-code-policies

I asked Chad Stutsman, Manager of Fundraising Analytics at the Rotary Foundation, why the transfer was so large.  He replied, “contributions to World Fund were higher compared to actual program spending.  In fiscal year 2013-14, contributions to the Annual Fund were at its highest while the program spending had not grown as quickly.  Per the policy, any excess funds were transferred accordingly.”

Here is what that means to me.  Rotarians are generously giving to the Rotary Foundation.  This means the World Fund balance is greater than the World Fund target, which if you remember from last week’s post, is essentially 50% of our last three years of SHARE – APF giving plus $5 million.  But Rotarians are lagging behind in coming up with projects that are worthy of being matched by the World Fund, and so funds are being transferred to Operating Reserves.  (In case your wondering, I have no idea what happens to funds once the Operating Reserve Target is fully funded AND I don’t have the courage to ask Chad any more questions about this topic.  Last I heard, Stutsman had asked for a specific exemption from the Four-Way-Test when it came to my incessant questions about the World Fund.  I don’t know if Rotary has a hit squad of some kind but I don’t intend to find out.)

The bottom line is we have a fund within the Rotary Foundation that is kind of like Santa Claus for Districts trying to finance global grants.  Every dollar of DDF we allocate to a project is matched $1 for $1, and any cash is matched 50 cents on the dollar.  The World Fund is subsidizing Rotary Peace Centers.  It is financing a variety of Partnerships.  It is paying for Foundation operations, and it is matching District contributions to PolioPlus 50 cents on the dollar.

The World Fund apparently has too much money!  It’s time for Rotary Districts to get creative.  Let’s go, Rotarians!  World peace is at stake.

 

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Rotary’s Least Known Fund…The World Fund (Part 1)

Chad Stutsman is the Manager of Fundraising Analytics for The Rotary Foundation.  He is patient, understanding, and apparently doesn’t get weary answering the persistent questions of your just-short-of-obnoxious Ready, Fire, Aim reporter.  Thank you Chad for digging up the answers to my long list of queries with such grace and good humor.  

Nowadays when I explain why I give to the SHARE program and the Annual Program Fund, I say something like:  “Giving to the SHARE program is a way to express my trust in the judgment of Rotarians in my District in fixing the problems in our local community.  I trust them to design and implement local projects that are worthy of being approved by our District grants committee with funds that I’ve contributed to the Rotary Foundation and are returned to our District as DDF” (District Designated Funds).

This is followed by me explaining: “I’m also expressing confidence in every Rotary club and District in the world, because one half of my contribution ultimately helps to fund global grants that are submitted by like-minded Rotarians who I’ll probably never meet.  I like the fact that the service projects we do to fulfill our mission of world peace aren’t designed in Evanston by a small group of experts.  Instead, our global humanitarian grants are submitted by Rotarians, just like me, all around the world.  Our world peace goal is being advanced by every Rotarian on the planet who submits a global grant, and my contribution helps to support their efforts.”

It occurred to me that there are probably millions of  words written about the SHARE program with the near impossible goal of explaining DDF, the mysterious sounding funds that magically appear in our District three years after we make our contribution to the Rotary Foundation.  I won’t add to that treasure trove of words in this post.  But it also occurred to me that the “other” fund in the Rotary Foundation is the World Fund.  Our global DDF is matched dollar for dollar from the World Fund.  Our peace fellow program is in part funded through the World Fund.  Our District’s polio contributions of DDF are matched 50 cents on the dollar by the World Fund.  And I realized I didn’t know a heck of a lot about the World Fund.  Hence, poor Chad Stutsman was left to field my endless list of questions.  So without further ado, here is my version of everything you need to know about the World Fund.

Note: I’ve written about the super secret team at Rotary HQ that actually influences our global grant behavior before.  Check out one of my all-time favorite RFA posts,  “A World Peace Conspiracy Revealed at One Rotary Center,” 

When we make donations to the SHARE program the proceeds are invested for three years and then one half the money goes to the World Fund.  It’s a whole lot of money.  To give you an idea, the 2017 beginning balance of the World Fund was $180 million.  There is a target for the amount of funds to be held in the World Fund. Per the Rotary Foundation Code of Policies, the World Fund Target is the sum of 50% of the current and prior two years’ worth of contributions to the Annual Fund – SHARE plus $5 million, which is $193M at the end of FY2017.

Stay with me here.  BREATHE…..breathe……relax.  It’s OK.  This makes total sense.  We know our donations to the Rotary Foundation Annual Program Fund SHARE are split after three years between District Designated Funds and the World Fund.  So here it is.  They add up the last three years of contributions to SHARE, divide by two, and add $5 million and there’s the target.  The beginning of fiscal 2017 year balance was $180 million and the end of year target was $193 million.

How EXACTLY was the money spent last year?  Glad you asked.

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International
World Fund spending
Fiscal Year 2017
(in US$ millions)

Program awards:
Global Grants                                                                                         $       33.6
Rotary Peace Centers                                                                                     1.8
Partnership Grants                                                                                          0.8
Original Grants and other (Note 1)                                                          (0.4)
Total                                                                                                                    35.8
Program operations (Note 2)                                                                    20.5
Transfers:
World Fund match to DDF transfers to PolioPlus                               3.5
World Fund transfer to Operating Reserve (Note 3)                         20.4

Note 1:  Original grants and other primarily includes cancelled grants and
unspent funds for prior year educational and humanitarian grants.
Note 2: Expenses to support grant activities.
Note 3:  Per TRF Code of Policy 24.050, if the World Fund balance exceeds the
World Fund Target, then the amount above the target will be transferred to the
Operating Reserve up to the Operating Reserve Target.

Another note to reader:  You will note that this is Part 1 of a two-part blog.  You need to stay awake for the whole thing.  I know the numbers are killing you and (trust me) its hard to be hilariously funny about Operating Reserves.  I’m trying my best.  I really am.  Just challenge yourself to finish Part 1 and we’ll cover the rest next week.  OK?

Have you seen the new polio documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication?  If you haven’t checked it out,  its now available as a three-day rental for only $4.99.  Go to the Dare to Dream website and rent or buy your copy today.  AND you can download a FREE excerpt of the movie to show to your club!

The Program awards are pretty straight forward and are split between global grants, peace centers, and partnerships.  We funded $33.6 million of global grants, meaning the World Fund matched $33.6 million of District global DDF or cash.  (Remember, the World Fund matches global DDF $1 for $1, and it matches cash contributions by 50 cents on the dollar.)  According to the 2017 Annual Report we funded $73 million of total global grants, so that seems just about right. Click here to read the 2017 Rotary Annual Report. 

 

The $1.8 million to fund the Peace Centers is one of four sources of funding along with distributions from the Peace Center Endowment, donations from individual Rotarians, and DDF from Rotary Districts worldwide.  According to PDG Peter Kyle, who is one of my Rotary mentors and a guru of everything related to Rotary Peace Centers, Rotary has met its goal of $150 million in gifts and commitments to an endowment to fund the Peace Centers.  The current $158 million total is approx. 40% invested in cash and securities and the balance is in future commitments, ie. pledges from estates after Rotarians pass.  The distributions from the endowment provide a $2 million annual subsidy to fund the Centers.  The balance of the funding comes from individual contributors and Rotary District DDF from around the world.  According to Kyle, the annual budget to run the Centers is $5 million annually, so the World Fund’s $1.8 million will eventually decrease to zero as the endowment grows over time.

The Partnership Grants were 1) WASH in Schools Competitive grants for $400,000 and 2) UNESCO-IHE (now called OJE Delft Institute for Water Education) for $400,000.  Click here to learn more about UNESCO-IHE.  There is an entire committee working right now on how Rotary can better structure World Fund partnerships.  Some day, when I want to torture you even more than I am today, I’ll write about that effort.  Oh…and for the conspiracy theorists out there who wonder what the next Rotary global service project will be after polio is eradicated, did you notice that both partnership projects were water projects?  It’s probably just a coincidence.

I think that’s more than enough for today’s post.  I’ll go through the very important information about Program Operations and Transfers in Part II.  In fact, there is an amazingly important number buried in this data that should concern every Rotarian who donates to the Rotary Foundation.  Stay tuned for Part II about Rotary’s least known fund…The World Fund.

 

PART 1 of this two-Part series about the World Fund is brought to you by:

MOVIE NIGHT

Movie Night is the most original, effective, and downright inspiring polio fundraiser you’ve ever heard of.  Go to www.daretodreamfilm.com to learn more about how you can increase your club’s membership, promote your club in the community, and raise money for polio eradication.

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

 

Measuring “Engagement” in “Hands On” Service Projects

NOTE:  Occasionally the RFA blog takes on subjects that may make readers blood boil as we poke and prod at long-held Rotary beliefs.  Today we are taking on the possibly heretical notion that “service” as a fundamental requirement of being a Rotarian can take many forms.  Please feel free to violently disagree.  Your Humble RFA Editor.

I’m a proud member of the Columbia-Patuxent Rotary club’s “meeting after the meeting.”  Participants have been known to hang around for hours after our Friday morning meeting discussing any topic, Rotary or non-Rotary, under the sun.  A few weeks ago our discussion focused on tracking club member’s “hands on” service hours.  It has been proposed that tracking these hours will:

1) Help us promote Rotary in a way that helps to quantify the dollar value of our volunteer service.  How cool it would be to say we give “x” amount of hours of sweat equity in helping others in town and those volunteer hours have “x” dollar value?  Plus, discussing  our hands-on service  would absolutely help to promote Rotary’s brand, especially with prospective younger members.

2)  Perhaps tracking service hours will serve as an incentive to members that have not been active in service projects in the past.  Seeing how others are participating might inspire them to get off their butt and get into the fray of serving others.  And once they enter the pool, who knows?  They may just get hooked on this service thing.

To track service hours the club has created a form that basically asks members to self-report the service opportunity they participated in and the number of hours they contributed.  I’m sure this data will be tracked on some kind of a spreadsheet.

Even the old and wise…well….old…..Rotarians I hang out with have no objection to #1 above.  But (stunning surprise alert) they seem to have a few comments to make about #2.  So buckle on your chin straps and lets explore a few thoughts on the topic of engagement.

Lets start by observing that Rotary has several different constituent members who view the value proposition of their membership differently, depending on their demographic.  If you are a younger member you are likely to value “hands on” service opportunities and the opportunity to network with older members.  If you are a middle-aged Rotarian (don’t ask…I’m not going there) then you may be interested in service opportunities, as well as social and business opportunities.  If you are an older Rotarian (if you find yourself bragging about your grandchildren at club meetings then you are “older.”  That doesn’t mean you look, feel, or are old.  You are just older) it is possible that you are more interested in the social connection that Rotary provides and less likely to be interested in planting trees, road side garbage pickups, stocking the shelf at the local food pantry, etc.  The older members get, the more they might value raising money using a lifetime of connections they’ve developed in the community and/or their own personal ability to write a check to solve community problems.  While they applaud the energy of younger Rotarians, they could be excused for not being as enthusiastic about expending their own.

If the above is true, and a particular Rotary club has an older demographic (in 2016 Rotarians average age was 58.  40%+ of members were over 60 years of age) then the club might naturally become a sometimes demonized “check writing club” that raises money and gives it away to worthy causes, but seems to do little else.  The members are doing what they like to do, but are they RINOs (Rotarian in Name Only) if they don’t post for hands-on service projects?  Are we insulting or alienating our older members if we define “engagement” in a way that forces them to do service work they don’t want to do?  On the other hand, what are other members to think of this group that is obviously less than enthusiastic about attending volunteer projects?

Is it possible that there is absolutely nothing wrong with members being social and writing checks, if that’s how THEY define Rotary service?  Could it be “bad business” to define excellent membership through the lens of hands on service when that isn’t what the majority of members want to do?  NOTE:  If you are an older member who LOVES to do hands on service, or you belong to a club where the majority of older members LOVE hands on service, congratulations!

Doesn’t it make sense that if clubs want to promote more hands on service that they make it easier for younger members, who generally WANT TO DO hands on service, to join?  What if you track service hours for younger members and use them to offset younger member dues payments?  Several clubs in District 7620 are doing this successfully.  Younger members typically could care less about selling tickets for fundraisers.  Let them do hands on service.  Let older members have a cocktail and mentor younger members about how we did it better “in the old days.”

And finally (mercifully) there is the question of members who donate substantial time and money to support the club’s internal service.  The members who create and manage the club website.  The members who plan club programs or plan the club’s fundraising events, the entire club Leadership Team, members working in the District or Zone, etc. etc.  What about them?  Do we celebrate them in the same way we celebrate members who volunteered their Saturday to plant trees?  Let’s hope we don’t somehow devalue their contribution because their isn’t a checkmark on the service hour form for club, District, or Zone service activity.

If there is anything I absolutely love to discuss, its how Rotary and Rotarians resist change.  As an organization we need to get a lot better at change if we want to survive.  But its easy to point the finger at others when the change doesn’t involve you and your Rotary club, isn’t it?

For the record, here’s my personal opinion:

I think tracking service hours is a brilliant idea.

I think using the hours to promote the club in the community is also a brilliant idea and well worth doing.

I think tracking hours as a means to incentivize older members to do hands on service is doomed to failure.  I would be opposed to making the individual hourly service information public to the club for fear it might embarrass certain members.

I think Rotary clubs need to make it easier for younger members, who want to do hands on service, to join clubs.  Getting younger is the solution…not trying to change older members into something they don’t want to be.

What do you think about this whole “engagement” issue?  Does your club track hours of service?  How does it work in your club?  One way or the other, its the engagement of our members, however its defined, that will mean success or failure of our Rotary clubs.

This post was brought to you by the Rotary documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.  You can rent or buy this one hour documentary at www.daretodreamfilm.com.  You can read about using the documentary to raise money for polio eradication, increase the public’s knowledge about Rotary, and recruit new members, by holding a Movie Night in October during World Polio Month.  Read more about Movie Night on Ready, Fire, Aim here and here.

You can subscribe to the Ready, Fire, Aim Rotary blog and get automatic notifications of new posts sent directly to your in-box by clicking on the SUBSCRIBE button to the right of the blog text.

You can follow Ken Solow on Twitter at @daretodreamfilm and @kennethrsolow, and on Facebook at daretodreamfilm and Ken Solow.

 

How to Do “Movie Night” – Brought to you by The Rotary Club of Easton, Maryland.

I’m pleased to report that we’ve had a great response to last week’s post on Movie Night.  If you missed it, it proposes using the new documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, to raise money for polio eradication, promote your Rotary club, and engage potential new members and introduce them to Rotary.  Read last weeks post by clicking here 

Since them I’ve been corresponding with Ritchie Wheatley, the President of the Rotary Club of Easton, Md.  They are full-speed-ahead planning their Movie Night on October 24th.  I asked Ritchie for permission to share their planning with you and he graciously agreed.

The club has come up with a terrific project plan for the event.  They did a great job with this so consider “borrowing” their ideas.  Ritchie just let me know today that Peter Booker, DG of District 7630 has agreed to be on hand for the event.  Hint:  Make sure to inform your District leadership about your Movie Night.  They will want to attend.  This is a really great example of event planning that you can use for ANY event, not just Movie Night.

Dare to Dream Event – World Polio Day, Wed – 10/24/2018
1.Show 16 min. video at August Meeting to all members
2.Announce full length video on World Polio Date – raise funds, goal $3,000
3.Rent Avalon Theatre – cost $650-750 – Forms submitted early July, waiting on confirmation and meeting date
4.Establish price person – $25-$50, show full documentary
5.Committee Members – Tim Kagan, George Hatcher, Reza Jafari, Richie Wheatley
6.Start at 6 pm – end at 8:30 pm
7.Format for Event: 6:00 – 7:00 pm – Social Hour
                                       7:00 – 7:10 pm – Welcome to Event – RW / Update on Polio / Bill Gates Welcome
                                       7:10 – 7: 20 pm – Introduction to Tim Kagan
                                       7:20 – 8:20 pm – Show Documentary
                                       8:20 – 8:30 pm – Q&A, Ken Solow – request was made
  1. Register event with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation/Stoppolio.org – Done 7/19/18
  2. Emailed Peter Booker about contact at RI for Bill Gates Message
  3. Request from Rosemary material for promotion of event

You might note that under #3 they are planning on renting the Avalon Theatre for $650 – $750 and their goal is to raise $3,000 for Polio eradication.  Let’s do some math.  I just looked it up and the Avalon Theatre has a 400 seat capacity.  They are pricing tickets at $25 – $50.  If they sell 200 tickets for $25 that’s $5,000 less the theatre rental….seems like they have a great shot of hitting their goal.

This is one heck of a beautiful theatre.  If you wanted a fantastic experience to introduce someone to Rotary….this would fit the bill.

More about the Avalon Theatre.  This is from their website:

About
http://avalontheatre.com/…The Eastern Shore’s best place for Live Music and Entertainment Located in the Heart of Downtown Easton MD. Rated #1 on TripAdvisor for “Things to Do” in Easton Maryland

Ritchie asked me if we have any promotional materials to help sell tickets and I’m pleased to say, yes we will.  Give us two weeks and we will have a customizable flyer/advertisement that you can use to promote Movie Night at your local theatre, or at a member’s home.  It will be on a new Movie Night tab on the website.  Right now you can find a downloadable full-sized movie poster under the Raise Money for Polio Plus tab on the Dare to Dream website.

Your club can do this!  Or a group of clubs in your area can do it with you.  Just remember that the event is more than just a fundraiser.  Watch the movie yourself.  You will see that it is a fantastic way to introduce people to Rotary, and a great way to promote your club in the community.

To buy or rent the movie, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, click here.

If you are a Rotary District Polio Chair, or District Foundation Chair, and want to promote Movie Night in your District, contact me at ksolow@Pinnacleadvisory.com and we can discuss creating a discount promo code for your District’s clubs as an incentive to watch the movie.

To subscribe to the Ready, Fire, Aim Rotary blog and receive notifications of new posts directly to your inbox, click on the SUBSCRIBE button to the right of the blog text.

Imagine Dare to Dream on the marquee of your local movie theatre.

World Polio Day and Rotary Movie Night

Wednesday, October 24th is World Polio Day.  I know.  I know.  It’s been a long time since your Rotary Club actually did something to celebrate.  But this year we are getting so close to the last case of polio (still three more years after the last case until official eradication) that I want to suggest a terrific event for your club, called Movie Night.  Movie Night is actually three events rolled into one.  It’s a fundraiser for PolioPlus, it’s a new member event, and it’s a first class public image event.  First question:  Why show a movie for your event?

Well, for one thing, movies capture our attention in a way that no other media can.  We are all addicted to screens, but seeing a film on a big screen in a theatre with theatre quality sound creates a unique experience.  And while books are my favorite form of entertainment, it takes a lot more time to read a book than it does to watch a movie.  To make my point about the engaging experience of movie watching, here is how your audience will be captured by your message on Movie Night.  See if you can relate…

Why celebrate World Polio Day? The fact that Rotary is a world-leader in Polio eradication is going to be bigger and bigger news when we get to the last case.  Why not tell the story of how Rotary became a leader in the global fight to end polio by showing the documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication?  The first step is for you to ACTUALLY WATCH the film, which you can do for $4.99 by renting it for three days on the Dare to Dream website.  

You will find that the movie is entertaining, educational, and inspirational.  We’ve shown the movie to Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike and the result is the same.  Standing ovations!

The next step (after taking this idea to your club’s Board and getting approval from your Rotary Club), is to reserve a venue to show the film.  You can either rent a two hundred seat independent theatre in your community (someone in your club will know the owner) or you can use the theatre at your local Community College, University, or other venue, for free….if you ask nicely.  Figure you get the local theatre owner to rent you the space for a weekday evening for $500.

Next you need to sell tickets.  You can price the tickets depending on your fundraising objectives.  Some communities are richer than others, but I’m suggesting your consider a price of $20 per ticket for the movie.  Maybe $30 for two?   Remember to tell people its a fundraiser.  $20 (in most places) is amazingly cheap for a fundraiser of any kind.  You should consider teaming up with other Rotary clubs in your area for the event.  Get four clubs with the goal of selling 50 tickets each.  One last thought….make sure your customers know that their ticket purchase is being matched 2 – 1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Their $20 ticket is actually raising $17.50 net for PolioPlus (if you pay $500 for a theatre rental) plus the $35 Gates match results in a total of $52.50 for PolioPlus.

Here’s an important point…your objective is to sell tickets to NON-ROTARIANS.  You are trying to spread the message to folks who will be inspired by our story and might consider visiting your Rotary club.  If you sell 200 tickets for $20 that’s $4,000, less $500 for the theatre rental and you’ve raised $3,500 for PolioPlus.

Your club members can get Paul Harris Society recognition for your PolioPlus contribution by filling out the Rotary Foundation multiple donor form.

Your club(s) can divide the proceeds equally to all of your members or allocate the credit by ticket sales.  It’s totally up to you.  Just send in the check for the net proceeds along with the form.

Note to District Foundation Chairs, District Polio Chairs, and End Polio Now Chairs:  Why not set up a quick spreadsheet or interactive page on your District’s website where clubs can input the proceeds of their event?  You can then publicize the total you’ve raised as a District.

Still don’t believe that watching a movie is an incredible experience?  Watch Mr. Bean deal with a horror movie.  By the way, Dare to Dream definitely isn’t a horror movie, but I had to share this clip because its hilarious.  Showing a movie about Rotary to your audience will engage them in our message in a way no other event can.

The evening is easy to actually manage.  Buy the movie for $25 ($19 is a contribution to PolioPlus) and download it to a laptop.  Check with your local theatre owner to make certain there are no technical issues.  You serve popcorn to your guests because its a Movie Night for pete’s sake.  Or, you can make friends with the theatre owner and have your guests be patrons of the theatre’s snacks and drinks.  On the www.daretodreamfilm.com website you can click on the RAISE MONEY FOR POLIO tab and find a hi-res downloadable movie poster that you can use to promote the film in the theatre.  You can blow it up to a large size and ask the theatre owner to display it with his other movie posters.  It looks great!

This is an opportunity to paper the town with flyers advertising the movie.  Get some press coverage in the local paper.  Make sure to invite the District brass to your event and have a question and answer session after the film.  Also make sure to have some good information about your club and Rotary International that are takeaways for your guests.  Don’t miss this opportunity to invite them to visit your club.

You will rarely have anyone be introduced to Rotary in a more positive way than having them attend Movie Night.  One last thing….October is Foundation Month so don’t worry if you can’t pull the event off on October 24th.  Any time in October will work just fine.  You can do this!!!

You can rent or buy the documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication at www.daretodreamfilm.com.  

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

You can follow Ken Solow on Facebook at DaretoDreamFilm and on Twitter at @Daretodreamfilm.

The Rotary History Fellowship

I’m a firm believer that those who study history have an edge over those who ignore it, because history gives us a useful framework for evaluating what has worked, and not worked, in the past.  Rational decision makers use that information to make (hopefully) more informed decisions about the future.  More information, along with more insight, more intuition, more education….does not guarantee better results.  We are, after all, discussing the future, and the only way to KNOW what is going to happen is wait for it to actually happen and THINK you should have known it all along.  Behavioral psychologists have a name for this delusion.  It’s called “hindsight bias.”

As you might imagine, as the producer of a documentary about how Rotary became engaged in polio eradication, I think learning about Rotary’s history is critically important.  It helps us to avoid the mistakes that we’ve made in the past.  It helps us to appreciate our accomplishments in the present, and helps us to steer a better course in the future.  If you are interested in learning more about Rotary’s history, then I want to introduce you to Steve Hellersperk and the Rotary Global History Fellowship.  (RGHF)

Formally founded in 2002, the Rotary Global History Fellowship bills itself as the largest fellowship in Rotary.  According to the their website, the mission is:

This Fellowship is an association of Rotarians and friends dedicated to accumulating and preserving the history, values and philosophy of the Rotary movement, and encouraging others to do the same by publishing these histories, values and philosophies on the internet.

In short, the organization is kind of a Wikipedia of Rotary history.  Here is Executive Director, Steve Hellersperk, giving you a little insight.

The “History stuff” at RGHF is endlessly educational and entertaining.  I highly recommend you join RGHF.  It costs you $30 to join and gain access their entire library of amazing documents.

Of course, one of the most interesting historical documents produced about Rotary is the documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.  Hellersperk, being the great guy that he is, is agreeing to do a little cross promotion with RGHF and Yours Truly and we will be announcing some cool incentives for members to buy or rent the film in the near future.

Here’s Steve closing the deal.  (By the way, this was filmed at the RGHF booth at the House of Friendship at the Toronto International Rotary Convention.  Steve did these brief shots in one take and with no rehearsal.)

 

 

Yup.  You need to be! To learn more about RGHF CLICK HERE.

To join RGHF CLICK HERE.

To download buy or rent Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, the best one hour documentary about Rotary’s polio eradication history ever produced, CLICK HERE.

To subscribe to Ready, Fire, Aim and receive automatic notifications of new posts directly to your inbox click on SUBSCRIBE to the right of the blog text.

You can follow Ken Solow on Twitter at @daretodreamfilm and @KennethRSolow.  You can follow Ken Solow on Facebook at daretodreamfilm or at Ken Solow.

Two Rotary International Conventions and Three Book Reviews

Just back from Toronto where Rotary obviously was making an effort to get us to focus on doing good in the post-polio world.  More precisely, they were concentrating on the six areas of focus for the Rotary Foundation and making the connection to the U.N.’s 17 goals for sustainable development to be reached by 2030.  For many Rotarians, discussing any subject that isn’t polio eradication is good news.  For me, I’m still trying to process what it means that we’ve nearly accomplished a public health miracle.  It was also clear to me that the U.N. goals are almost unbelievably ambitious, which requires all of us to have a clear and accurate view of our world and it’s problems.  Which brings me to the subject of today’s blog.

To watch a documentary about how Rotary decided to eradicate polio, which is incredibly timely considering the amount of conversation there is about what to do AFTER polio is eradicated, please consider renting or buying the amazing new documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.  It is an inspiring story about Rotary leaders overcoming towering obstacles.  To learn more click here.

Last year, at the Atlanta convention, I went to a screening of Gone With The Wind.  For those who don’t know the famous movie, it is a romanticized tale of the deep South before and after the Civil War.  I hadn’t seen the movie in its entirety in years.  To be honest I was completely appalled by the film and its distortion of the realities of slavery and reconstruction in the post-civil war period.  My fellow club members who attended the event with me found my shrieks of protest to be most amusing and asked me to remember that the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Gone With The Wind, was written in 1936 by one of Atlanta’s most famous residents, Margaret Mitchell, in a period where racism in the U.S. was rampant.  So having watched the film (which won ten Academy Awards in 1940), I promised myself (and my skeptical friends) that I would read the book as soon as I returned from the Conference.

Well….I did read the book.  It is ten-times more horrifying than the movie.  I have to admit that I did come away with a greater appreciation of the film, which at four-hours in length does a fantastic job of bringing the book to the big-screen.  Beyond that, reading the book goes a long way towards helping you understand how far we’ve come as a country in terms of race relations.  We are far from perfect, but no one would dare write anything like Gone With The Wind today.  My biggest fear is that someone would confuse this gigantic distortion of the facts as being an accurate history of reconstruction in the period immediately following the Civil War.

If you are interested in a great book by a great writer that goes a long way towards exploding a lot of myths about this period in American history, let me recommend Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant, called Grant.  Hopefully you’ve read Chernow’s most well known biography, Hamilton, which became the sensational Broadway musical we are all waiting to see.  Grant is a book that is startling as it debunks many myths about the 18th President of the United States.  The book is thoroughly researched and beautifully written.  After reading this incredible piece of history, see if you agree that Grant probably did as much or more for blacks in the U.S. than any other U.S. President, including Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson.

That was last year.  At this year’s Toronto Convention one of the featured speakers at the Tuesday General Session was James Marggraff, Inventor and Entrepreneur who is the Founder/Co-Founder of a bunch of successful companies, including LeapFrog, one of the first tablets ever developed for children’s education.  During his talk he recommended a book called, “Factfulness, Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World–And Why Things Are Better Than They Seem.”  He said the book was so good that Bill Gates offered to buy a copy for all U.S. college graduates.  (I checked on this and Gates did make this offer although I don’t think it’s still valid.)

When I got home I invested $14.99 to download the book and I’ve been binge reading it ever since.  It is one of those life-changing books that will have a big impact on how you perceive the world.  The author, Swedish statistician and academic, Hans Rosling, begins the book by posing quiz questions designed to illustrate how most of us misperceive the world we live in, with potentially disastrous results.  I didn’t do too bad on the quiz but it wasn’t fair since I knew the answers would be skewed more positively than I would have guessed because of the title of the book. The good news is the world is in much better shape than we think.  The further good news is the book does more than make the case that the world is better off than we think it is.  Rosling gives us clear instructions on how to avoid the pitfalls we face in trying to understand the world when the media, and our luck in living in high-income countries, makes it hard to discern the truth.  Rosling died last year  at age 68 but he left us an amazing and challenging book.  ALL ROTARIANS need to read it!  Please.  And maybe Bill Gates will pay for it, but you will have to research that for yourself.

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

You can follow Ken Solow on facebook at DaretoDreamfilm.com and on Twitter at @Daretodreamfilm.