By Jennifer Jones
RI Communications Committee
Over the past two years, Rotary has undertaken an unprecedented amount of research to study the effectiveness of how we communicate with each other and also to look at perceptions about the organization from the community at large.
What’s likely not surprising is that we determined we have all of the strengths necessary for greatness in our second century of service. However, when we looked at awareness about our organization in the greater public arena, they quite simply don’t know about us. It is very easy to ask the question: How can this be true?
Global research shows that when asked four in 10 people have never heard of us, another four know us in name only, and the remaining two have only some familiarity, which often is colored by misconceptions.
How can we attract and engage new members and partners when they don’t know who we are?
Personally, I think that to keep Rotary relevant and enticing for the next 100 years, we need to be innovative, forward thinking, and adaptable to ensure that the rest of the world views us the way we view ourselves.
Here’s what I like most about the “Strengthening Rotary” initiative:
1. It helps us explain who we are, what we do, and why we matter.
Through this process, we have introduced a new framework to help Rotarians better define who we are when asked the inevitable question: What is Rotary? We Join Leaders, Exchange Ideas and Take Action.
Of course, each Rotarian’s story is different, but if we could highlight the common ground it begins to form a compelling call to action. We are leaders who act responsibly and take action to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. When we are all singing off the same song sheet our message is amplified and it becomes much easier to engage people in Rotary.
2. It helps us present a strong, unified image to the public.
For so long we did our good work quietly and not for recognition. While this was noble, it made it difficult for people to understand the good work of Rotarians. Now that “telling our story” has become a priority, we need to make sure that we have a united voice.
An exciting new visual identity kit and guidelines have been launched and they provide tools for individuals, clubs, and districts to create a look that begins to introduce continuity across the globe. Of course, there remains room for personal creativity but a unified look and feel will propel Rotary into a very bright future. Everyone will know who we are, what we do and why it matters.
If you’ve visited rotary.org within the past few months, you’ve probably noticed evidence of this initiative in the form of simpler, more action-oriented words and visuals. I also am so heartened to see the materials that Rotarians are creating with these new tools. They are stunning and I have heard from countless Rotarians that they love the fresh new look and feel.
3. It will help us attract new members and supporters.
Strengthening Rotary is essential to Rotary’s future. As we share our story in a more clear and compelling way, like-minded people are going to want to be part of our great organization.
This really is one of our best membership opportunities. In the end, if we can elevate awareness and attract and engage new members and partners, our good work will spread and “doing good in the world” will not only remain our organizational compass, but will help us soar to new heights.