Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Thanksgiving “Thank you” to District 7620 Rotary Clubs


You’re most welcome!

Last week I visited the Fredericktowne Club and  had the opportunity to preach the gospel about the Rotary Foundation.  Like many/most clubs, they offered me a “thank  you” gift for speaking….in this case a monogrammed pen with the club name on it.  Other clubs have expressed their thanks with contributions to TRF, a jar of pumpkin butter, a club flag, and a coffee mug.  Let me say again to them, you are most welcome.  The Fredericktowne club, and all of the other clubs who allowed me to visit so far this year, are most generous to set aside some of the club officers time, or the time to do a club program, to learn more about the Rotary Foundation.

I believe most Rotarians have no idea how little is required of Rotary clubs in order to keep their Charter.  The list is very small, and goes something like: 1) you have to have meetings, 2) you have to pay your RI dues, 3) you have to be insured, 4) you have to do a service project, and 5) you have to host a visit from the District Governor. 6) you must subscribe to the Rotarian Magazine, and 7) follow RI’s by-laws and code of policies.  Notably, there is no mention of Foundation giving on this rather small list.  And their is no mention of growing membership, public relations, providing financial and other support to disaster victims, supporting Polio Plus, having fun, being competent, being a force in your community for good, or anything else that a typical club in our District does as part of their club’s mission for “doing good in the world.”

Rotary clubs in District 7620 define themselves in different ways, have different personalities, and generally try their hardest to improve their local community with service projects large and small.  For that I am thankful.  They routinely exceed what is required of them to be called Rotarians, and for that I am thankful.  So to all who have listened to my Foundation rant this year with grace and good humor, and to the club leaders who have agreed to try and change the status quo in their clubs in terms of supporting the Foundation at a higher level of contributions, even though it is not required, and even though RI has set smaller goals for giving then we have set in our District, I say, from the bottom of my heart, “THANK YOU.”

The New 7620 Engage! Foundation Newsletter


District 7620 Rotarians were treated to the first edition of the Engage! Rotary District 7620 Foundation Newsletter this week.  It was an interesting experience to see the letter being created and watch what happened when it was distributed to all.

The newsletter was created in a program called Mail Chimp which allows us to send the letter directly to a Rotarian’s inbox – which is good because you don’t have to click on a PDF attachment to see it, and bad because email gradually moves lower in your unopened mail until it kind of disappears from view.

Engage! was designed so that you could quickly get to the content with individual links to the articles.  You can quickly choose the content you want to read and be very efficient in how you get the information that interests you about Rotary Foundation news in our District.

Here is the current score.  We sent the letter to 2,306 recipients.  667 opened the letter, and only 3.5% actually clicked on the articles.  Wow!  It seems that we have a lot of work to do to convince our members that the content we send has some VALUE!  So stay tuned as we fine tune our content, rev up our marketing and PR committee, and get everyone fired up about what is going on in our Rotary District Foundation activities.

Oh…and if you are one of the 96.5% of District 7620 members who didn’t check out the first issue, you can find it on the District website at






New Ideas, New Energy, New Younger Members

Darrell Nevin, District Membership Chair, Bill Fine, DGE, and I had the privilege of meeting with Melanie Spring (Metro Bethesda) and Nick Champagne (Bel Air) to discuss techniques for recruiting younger members.  If your club is already alive and crackling with energy, enthusiasm, and spirit.  If it is growing too fast and has too many volunteers for your “hands on” projects, then there is no need to read further.  If, on the other hand, your club could use a little more of “all of the above” then you will want to know more about Melanie and Nick.

They are vitally interested in how Rotary can grow its younger members, loosely defined as Rotarians under 50.  Nick comes to the cause having been introduced to RIOTT, yes…another Rotary acronym which stands for Rotarians in our twenties and thirties. Melanie, who is new to Rotary,  looked around and wondered why Rotary, with everything it has to offer young people, isn’t more popular with the demographic she thinks is being ignored in our membership discussions, which is potential members age 30 -50.

Guess who called the meeting with District Leaders? THEY DID.  And they are determined to help clubs in the District connect with younger Rotary prospects.  You will be hearing a lot about their efforts in this space, and from Membership Chair, Nevin, who, by the way, is still coming down from the adrenaline rush he experienced at the meeting. For me, you might be able to tell from the name of my blog, Ready, Fire, Aim, that I love to watch young Rotarians get things done.  Stay tuned for more news from these two outstanding young “do-gooders.”  I suspect they are going to do great things in our District.

If you would like to join their crusade to recruit younger members, or just learn more about what they are up to, you can contact them at (Melanie) and (Nick)

Nick and Melanie at the famous Bob Evans in Columbia breakfast hangout.




PR and Marketing Symposium #2

Another Saturday spent with Rotarians eager to “Do Good in the World.”  In this case, it was the second meeting of the District 7620 PR and Marketing Symposium.  Today’s group of 14 professionals broke into small groups to discuss Graphic Design and Video, District Newsletters, Social Media, Traditional Media, Training, and Websites.  The bottom line of these discussions is that there is new technology available to help us spread the word about our good works, but it doesn’t mean a thing if 1) We can’t formulate a clear message about what we do and why we do it, and 2) Rotarians don’t know how to use the technology tools available to us in social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and a whole bunch of other names only understood by teenagers and PR professionals.

This group of intrepid PR and marketing pros offered many intriguing insights into how different constituencies in the District would benefit from a “state of the art” marketing and PR plan.  Those constituencies include the District communicating to club, clubs communicating to their local community, and the District communicating to community.  If you are at all interested in the subject I’m sorry you missed this meeting because the ideas flying around the room were informed and exciting.

Stay tuned for a lot more news about our District’s marketing and PR efforts.  Marketing and PR  is one of three major aspects to the District’s strategic plan…which you’ve read of course.  (and if not you can find it posted on the District website at  This is just another of the outstanding new initiatives being developed in the District that will help clubs let their communities know what we are doing to improve our community, and to help Rotary members better understand what is going on in District 7620.

By the way, the pictures below are a good example of what happens when you facilitate a meeting and forget to take pictures for  your blog. (sigh)


Post PI Meeting 2
Imagine this room full of interesting Rotarians discussing PR and Marketing. They are having a blast!
Post PI Meeting
DGE Bill Fine, DG Peter Kyle, and Membership Chair, Darrell Nevin, debriefing after the PR and Marketing meeting.


Don’t Look Now but District 7620 Membership is Exploding

Rotary membership in District 7620 is exploding…and it’s about time!  What in the world have we been waiting for?  I have long maintained that the group that seems to appreciate Rotary the LEAST are U.S. Rotarians who seem to be oblivious to the critically important role we currently play, and the even more critically important role we COULD play, in pursuing our goal of world peace through humanitarian service.  Our membership should be growing like wildfire, and maybe now it is.

I just came from inducting four new Rotarians into the Bel Air Rotary Club.  The club is passing 45 members on its way to their immediate goal of 50.  How they integrate these new members into the club will be critical to their success.  President Debi Williams will be looking into “fireside chats” and “red badge” ceremonies with interest.  But the Bel Air Club is just the tip of the iceberg.  Check out this recent email from 7620 Membership Chair, Darrell Nevin:

Guest spoke at Fredericktowne tonight.  They are all jazzed up to hit 50 by June 30.  They’re doing a fireside chat tomorrow morning!  I am guest speaker at Lake Shore tomorrow eve.  D7620 hit 128 new members today.  +31 according to my records.  Greenbelt nabbed their first in two years.  So did S. Harford Co.    Down to only 22 clubs without a new member of record since July 1.  Pikesville reported 3 new ones this week and are now “out of the yellow” (over 25 members finally!)  Danny Parker is planning an Open House in S. MD.  Fredericktowne wants to do one, too.  Mark Milby will help them plan it right.  His Sykesville club is working thru 6 posible newbies from their Open House late last month!  Fed City will charter in January.  Got +100 in our crosshairs, Peter!  Rock on!!!”

If you don’t know, the Peter he refers to is District Governor, Peter Kyle.  I dunno….I just can’t picture DG Peter “rocking on” but I can see him going crazy over a glass of port after dinner in celebration!

It is time to do a heck of a lot more good in the world.  The world could use it.  The way to do it is to increase the number of members who have “sipped the Kool Aid” and bring a new level of energy, enthusiasm, and innovative ideas to our Rotary Clubs.  Rock on District 7620 and congratulations to all the “Do-Gooders” in the Bel Air Club!!

Bel Air Inductees and Sponsors
From left: Tony Steelman, Debi Williams, Noreen Pfeiffer, Dave Joynt, Gary Stokes, John Stump, John Fink, Susan Burchett, and Yours Truly



Build Your Club’s Sustainable Giving

In the past two weeks I’ve had the privilege of attending two of the District’s largest clubs, The Carroll Creek club (approx. 160 members), and the Frederick Club (approx. 190 members), and I am happy to report that both clubs are doing their part to promote civic awareness.  The program for my visit to the Carroll Creek club was a debate between the three Frederick City mayoral candidates.  The program for my visit to the Frederick club was a Q&A session with the winner of the previous day’s election,  Mayor Randy McClement.  It is somewhat disconcerting to know that I am now much more knowledgable about Frederick city issues than I am about civic issues at home here in Howard County!  I sat with Mayor McClement during lunch and if nothing else I can report he seems to be a really good guy.

For these “aircraft carrier” sized clubs, stepping up to the District’s $200 per member goal for the Annual Program Fund SHARE program goal requires big dollar contributions.  To make it the Frederick Club will need contributions of close to $40,000 each and every year…and more if membership continues to grow.  Club President, Michael Pugh says the club is up to the task, and Carroll Creek club president Fred Genau reports that they are focused on not only continuing to exceed that goal (which they have) but focusing on Paul Harris Society Members so that their giving is sustainable.

The SUSTAINABILITY of our giving is a huge issue for ALL clubs.  The best ideas for sustainable giving?  Consider these three ideas:

Build your Paul Harris Society.  Target 10% of your club members as a goal.  With each member pledged to give $1,000 per year you will build a solid base of contributions that is invaluable in hitting your annual giving goals.

Encourage members to do sign up On-Line at to make $18 per month TRF contributions per month billed to their credit card.  Again….if you build a large base of sustaining members giving at the $200 level it provides a “no stress” base-line for your annual giving.

Add TRF contributions to quarterly club dues invoices.  Members can choose to pay the extra $50 or not.  Be sure to sort out the tax deductibility issues of the payments.  Many clubs in 7620 are successful with this technique.

At all times, remember to emphasize WHY we give….which is to support one of the greatest philanthropies in the world!


Alderwoman Karen Young making her point at Carroll Creek club debate
Frederick Club members listen to newly reelected Mayor Randy McClement
Frederick Club members listen to newly reelected Mayor Randy McClement



Lexington Park – One of the “Big Five”

When I was growing up in South Jersey (Exit 5 for other escapees from the land of Camden, Trenton, and Newark) when I referred to the The Big 5 it was a reference to Philadelphia city basketball.  Famously, the Big 5 included Penn, Temple, Villanova, St. Josephs, and La Salle, and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a better venue for basketball than the Palestra, often called the “cathedral of college basketball,” situated at U. Penn.

In our District 7620, I refer to the Big 5 in a totally different context.  The Big 5 are our five largest Rotary clubs by membership.  The Big 5 includes the Washington DC, Annapolis, Carroll Creek, Frederick, and Lexington Park clubs, all with more than 100 members.  If you are in a small Rotary club, do yourself a favor and visit one of these large  clubs to see how they do things.  You will be surprised how some of them still manage to have fun during their meetings and how, despite their size, most of the members all seem to know each other.

I visited the Lexington Park club yesterday to discuss their Foundation Giving.  Like many of my visits, talking to this club was like “preaching to the choir” as Lexington Park boasts three Major Donors, 60 Paul Harris Fellows, and three Paul Harris Society Members.  Nevertheless, they have the same challenges as other clubs including structuring their Foundation giving so that it is sustainable, not cannibalizing their Polio Plus giving to meet their APF giving goals, and getting the membership to understand the SHARE program.

To find the “Do Gooders” in the Lexington Park Club, get on Route 5 and drive South until you just about run out of Maryland real estate.  They meet in California, Md.  Who knew?

If your ever in the mood for a road trip, visiting this fine club is worth the ride.

Lexington Park Leadership Team

From left, Bop Parkinson, Immed PDG, Major Donor, PHS, Jack Pappas, President, Jim Davis, PE, Danny Parker, AG, George Hulbert, PP, Major Donor, PHS, Bob Merritts, (new) PHS







Rotary Making a Difference at Howard Community College

I suspect that even Howard County Rotarians might not be aware of how much of an impact they are making at HCC.  While the individual clubs have been supporting scholarships at the college for years, this year a collaborative effort from all the Ho Co clubs has resulted in a five year, $75,000 commitment.  In recognition of the $75,000 pledge, HCC has named the Atrium at the new Health Sciences Bldg. on campus for Howard County Rotary.

As if that wasn’t enough, Rotary District 7620, at the request of Howard County Rotary clubs, awarded a $4,500 grant to fund a Silas Craft Scholarship.  Silas Craft Scholars are recognized for their potential and for financial need.  Between the individual club commitments, the joint pledge resulting in a naming opportunity, and the District grant for Silas Craft, it is easy to see how Rotary is making a major difference at the college and in the community.

As a donor, one of the things I appreciate most is that the college provides opportunities for you to meet scholarship recipients .  Today was the annual Student-Donor luncheon where Donor’s get to meet the terrific students who benefit from our generosity.  I had the opportunity to meet scholarship recipients William Fiege, Kiara James, and Lemea Gabralla today at the luncheon.  Kiara and Lemea are Silas Craft Scholars and I’m pleased to report you would have been as proud as I was today to support such motivated students.  Good luck to all three!

Not done with my “do-gooding” for today.  Tonight is my clubs’ (Columbia-Patuxent) fundraiser, “Night on the Riverboat.”  Too much fun!

From left, William, Ken, Lemea, and Kiara
From left, William, Ken, Lemea, and Kiara