14 Steps to an AMAZING Community Service Project


61.  The number of Official DG visits that this DG has completed.  Since it is also the number of clubs in District 7620, it means that I’m DONE.  Finished.  Toast.  Complete. Nothing left to do but mail it in.  Take a nap.  Write my memoirs.  And…file my expense report.  Or….maybe just have more time to cause a lot more mischief around here.  What fun!

61 is also the number of one of the most famous home runs ever hit.  Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record with his 61rst home run on the last day of the 1961 season, long before steroids made a mockery of home run stats.  I wanted to show you the clip of Maris’s home run here but I can’t get the YouTube clip to play, so instead, I present to you what is definitely, and without argument, the most amazing home run ever to grace a movie….Roy Hobb’s game winner in the Natural.  It just doesn’t get better than this.  It wasn’t Maris’s number 61, but it should have been.

OK.  I can’t help myself.  I hated this guy when he was with the Yankees, AND when he was with my beloved Orioles, but his home run in the 1971 All-Star Game was as close as you could come to Roy Hobbs in real life.  Off the transformer on the roof of Tiger’s Stadium! Unbelievable really.  (Only 46 seconds.  I promise to get to Rotary stuff in less than a minute.)  Too bad the camera man couldn’t track the ball hitting the transformer.

Back to Rotary.  I promised to get back into HOW TO actually plan and implement a community changing, high impact project, since this blog has focused on the subject more than a few times. Most recently, The Magic of Thinking Big in Rotary, featured a multi-District International project.  In my club visits I’ve been asked how do you do a LOCAL project that meets RI President Ravi Ravindran’s mantra, “Solve a huge problem in your community and your PR and membership problems will solve themselves”?

Here’s the answer in 14 startling easy steps.

  1.  Decide to make a huge impact on your community because as President Ravi says, “The time is now.  It will never come again.”  The next line is “Be a Gift to the World” but you already knew that.
  2. Go to your club’s Board and get them to agree that solving a major problem in the community should be the MOST IMPORTANT element of your strategic plan.  What is the VISION for you club?  What do you want to accomplish?  All of the other rubbish about growing by net one or two members will have to be revised upwards when you come up with an answer that your club is PASSIONATE about.
  3. Have a Club Assembly and inform your membership that the Board has decided it’s time to have a much bigger impact on your community.  Get the member’s feedback and support.  Sell them on a vision that is awesome, magnificent, and inspiring.
  4. Give your club no less than six months and as much as a year to assess your community needs and find strategic partners both in and out of Rotary.
  5. Meet with the largest private business in your town and find out what THEY think is the biggest problem is in your community.  They will probably have a full-time employee whose job is to be a community liaison.  Let him or her know your Rotary club  might want to partner with them to solve the problem THEY think is most important.  Develop a relationship with him or her.  (Your town will have many branch offices of businesses where the home office is located outside of your town.  Find businesses where the home office is located in your community.)
  6. Meet with the next two largest private businesses (public employers are OK too but not as good as private employers) in town and let them know what the largest private business thinks is the biggest problem in town.  Ask them, “IF OUR CLUB IS A PARTNER with the biggest business in town to solve this important community problem,  would you be interested in being part of the deal?
  7. If businesses one through three by size won’t meet with you (they will, but I’m just sayin) then keep going until you find businesses that WILL meet with you.
  8. Meet with city and local and government officials and find out what they think are the biggest problems in town.  Ask if they agree with the opinions of the largest businesses in your town.  Local clergy will also have some great ideas, as will lots of other people, but I don’t want to make this list too long so I’m cheating and mentioning them all here under #8.
  9. Meet with the local Rotary clubs in your area and get their opinions about community assessment.  IF OUR CLUB PUT TOGETHER A PARTNERSHIP with the biggest three businesses in town, would your club(s) want to partner with us to increase Rotary’s impact on the project?
  10. Call your new friends at the LARGEST business in your community and ask them, “would they consider a partnership with you to solve either a) the problem they wanted to solve, or b) the problem that you uncovered in your assessment, IF you could bring the two other prominent businesses AND three or four other Rotary clubs to the table?”
  11. Form a committee consisting of a public- private partnership of community leaders, including government, business, and Rotary, to develop a plan of action for your project.
  12. When designing your project, make sure to tick off the following boxes to accomplish ALL of your objectives.  1) Does the project solve an important problem in your community? 2)  Does your community recognize this as an important problem?  3) Will your project engage your Rotary members?  Will it give them a real “hands on” role that will spark their enthusiasm? 4) Can you promote this project and does it have the kind of “optics” that make for a good PR campaign? 5) Can you build a highly visible fundraiser or other event around this project to further promote Rotary in your community?
  13. You now have a project that offers Rotary’s expertise, sweat equity, and PRESTIGIOUS BRAND, alongside of a large company’s ability to obtain financing and provide PR, alongside of local government’s approval that this project is meaningful and impactful.
  14. Execute!

That was easy, wasn’t it?  Join Leaders.  Exchange Ideas.  Take Action.  Someone in your town is going to want to solve the biggest problems in your community.  Why shouldn’t your club take the lead in finding out who they are?  We can do this!