President’s Corner

We are almost halfway through the Rotary year of my presidency, and I still have so much to learn about presiding.  One thing I have learned is that most of the work determining the direction of a presidency is done the year before one becomes president.  The weekly routine of preparing for and presiding over a meeting, as well as the monthly routine of preparing for and presiding over a board of directors’ meeting, serve as a constant source of motion through which plans of the previous year are realized.

So prior to the start of my term, I recognized that we were completing several major multi-year projects, while still executing our annual fund raising project, the Golf and Tennis Outing.  The first major multi-year project, of course, was the completion and grand opening of our Rotary Club of Ann Arbor Rotary Centennial Playground.  That required six years of planning, work, and fundraising.

Fig. 1: After completion of the Peace Conference, Centennial Playground, and Golf and Tennis Outing, the Club was ready to “Reset and Re-Engage.”

The second major project was our first Peace Conference, held last March in the Michigan League to an over-capacity crowd of 700.  The major question we all left with was… “What are YOU going to do to promote peace?”

Our Golf and Tennis Outing emphasized the use of a new set of team members, with experienced members taking on a consulting mentorship, ready to catch if a stumble seemed likely, but expecting the work to be done by the newcomers. We succeeded fabulously, exceeding our basic fund-raising budget and closing in on our stretch goal, which was over 20% higher.  More important still, the new team is ready and working to prepare an even better GTO next year.

So with the flurry of heavy, multiyear activities ending this year, I perceived that this was the year to “Reset and Re-engage” which I chose as my thrust for the year.

Three themes made up this thrust… Engage, Enable, and Sustain.  “Engage” involved improving both the fraction of our members that are engaged beyond merely paying dues, and improving our tracking of such engagement.  This includes offering a greater diversity of meetings and activities for which attendance “credit” is offered, beyond the essential Wednesday noon meetings.  We added quarterly “project” meetings, which have so far assembled bunk beds for “Friends In Deed” with our DOGS (“Doers of Good Service”) committee.  We are improving our recording of folk who participate in such things as these, committee meetings, and even social events, such as we are holding quarterly at The Session Room.

Fig. 2: In addition to noon meetings with attendance credit, we offer service and social events.

“Enable” means to identify each member’s passion for service by which they elected to join Rotary, and aid in new avenues for service and linking those passions to present Club and community needs.  To that end, we have used our Membership Survey to compile a list of Club interests for those members who offered theirs, which we are using to match to various committee and meeting activities (e.g., “Need more readers in our Rotary Tutors program”).   We also have an updated list of Committee profiles that describe the work and estimated time commitments of our various committees.

Fig. 3: We enable members to map self-expressed member interests to opportunities for service.

“Sustain” reflects the fact that we wish to increase the size and stability of the funding that we deploy each year to our various charitable projects, both local and international.  It has developed into the specific goals of 1) increasing the size of our Ann Arbor Rotary Club Endowment by about 50%, so that it can sustain contributing $100,000 each year to our charitable projects, while maintaining its principal, and 2) increasing our giving to Rotary International to the goal of $100 per member, which qualifies our club for various sorts of matching grants at both the District and International level once we achieve that per-capita level.

Fig. 4: If we increase our Ann Arbor Rotary Club endowment by $800K, we can increase our financial support of service projects to $100K per year.

But above all, my goal is to offer us “Fun Through Service.”  To that end, I have been helping our Program Committee to excel at what our own membership survey says are the two best reasons to be a Rotarian… the weekly meetings and the speakers.  I look forward to even greater excellence in this arena.

Fig. 5: Survey results show luncheon meetings and speakers are the most effective tools for engagement.