Using My Rotary to Connect with Others

Get Connected

By Adelita Hernandez, Connections Specialist, Rotary Service Connections

 Connecting with Rotarians and Rotaractors is easier than ever on My Rotary. Enhancements to groups and profiles and increased awareness of the My Rotary community have helped the growth of these valuable tools that help you connect online to your Rotary network. Increased member engagement through the Rotary social business tools has made My Rotary even more useful and interesting.

As Rotary’s community grows, more and more Rotarians and Rotaractors are joining and participating in discussion groups. With more than 350 groups to choose from, you are sure to find more than one topic that interests you. Many of the groups are growing. Next time you’re looking at your group, check out what other groups are available. If you don’t find a group that meets your needs, start a new group!

Some of our members are taking their groups from good to great by engaging their audiences in simple but effective ways.

  • Past District Governor Robert Harness started the Using Social Media in Rotary Clubs He helps his group grow by regularly inviting new members and monitoring and moderating discussions.
  • Rotarian Educators has a seen a steady increase of members each week thanks to the dedicated efforts of group creator Rotarian Maria Bossa. Maria always responds to posts and welcomes new members.
  • Membership Best Practices is another popular group due to the relevant and interesting discussions that are happening around membership. For example, the value proposition of Rotary to new members and retention and growth in clubs.

These three groups are often among the top ten most active groups on My Rotary because of the efforts of their administrators.

Daily notifications make it easy for you to stay up to date on group activity. If there’s no activity in your groups then you won’t get an email. Since notifications were added to My Rotary, we’ve seen an increase in group growth. The key to making your group grow is to actively post questions and experiences. Groups with the most recent posts are always listed first; it’s important to keep discussions moving to ensure the success of your group.

You can also use My Rotary to find and connect other Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Alumni. Search by name, skills, or interest and to find others who have interests in common with you.

Five Tips for More Engaging Webinars

by Adam Arents, Learning Technology Supervisor, Rotary International

Rotary WebinarsWe have all sat through one-sided presentations where the speaker presented information, and the audience’s role was to absorb it. But webinars are different. Through the various features of webinar software, attendees can participate and engage with presenters and organizers on an individual basis – something you can’t do in a large general session.

Webinars have great potential to make presentations or trainings a two-way street, where knowledge, perspective, and experiences are being shared from attendees and presenters. This type of communication is successful only if the organizers and presenters engage attendees to step outside of the typical way of presenting and invite attendees to participate in meaningful ways. Before you can create a more engaging webinar, learn best practices for setting up your own webinar and tips for building a valuable webinar.

Here are five tips for making your next webinar more engaging for participants:

  1. Tell attendees what is expected of them – Attendees are more likely to interact if you let them know in advance what you will be asking them to do. For example, if you plan to unmute people’s lines, share that information beforehand so they can be prepared with a microphone and a question or insight to share.
  2. Put attendees to work with a to-do list – When people arrive for a webinar, engage them from the beginning by providing a list of items that they can do while they are waiting for the webinar to start. For example, ask attendees to send you a chat with one challenge they have experienced with the subject matter. This will give you an idea of what information is most relevant for your audience. Show the to-do list to attendees on your screen before the session starts so those who arrive early have something to work on.
  3. Get them talking early – Ask a substantive question that each person can answer from their personal experience to get attendees talking. This will get them in the habit of taking part in the discussion and increase participation throughout the webinar.
  4. Don’t leave questions until the end – Pause throughout the webinar to answer questions or solicit feedback from the audience. This shows people you are listening to their contributions and encourages more interaction.
  5. Use polls to guide your presentation’s content – Be prepared to adapt your presentation based on what you learn from attendees through polls, questions, and comments. This will make your session more dynamic and relevant to your audience.

What audience interaction or engagement tips would you add to this list?

Using Cultivation to Achieve Solicitation Success

By: Jenna Archuleta, Major Gifts Officer  

You’ve accepted the position, taken the training, and are ready to call your first major gift prospect. You review your research on the individual and begin dialing the phone. And then, you decide you need to think about it a little before you make the call. Hours turn to days, which turn to weeks and months that go by without you calling. “ What am I waiting for?” you ask yourself.

All fundraisers have been in this situation. But, with proper preparation, soliciting a major gift can be a simple, enjoyable experience.

Solicitation is the third of the four-step fund-raising process of Identification, Cultivation, Solicitation and Stewardship. All steps are important, but many new major gift fund-raisers make the mistake of starting with solicitation. Measuring success in major gifts is very different than annual giving. With annual giving, success is measured when donors give money.

With major gifts, success can be learning about the donor’s family, educational background, or favorite Rotary project. Cultivation is the key to any successful major gift solicitation. Cultivation involves gathering information via insightful questions and thoughtful consideration of donors’ goals. Cultivation often starts with a request to have coffee.

Rather than requesting a significant gift right away, get to know your potential donor. What is special about Rotary for them? Why have they made charitable gifts in the past? What is their personal, professional, and Rotary history? What causes do they care about?

In these first meetings, do more listening than talking. Connect around shared Rotary passions if possible. As you get to know more about your potential donor, work with your major gifts officer to develop a customized cultivation strategy for each potential donor in your portfolio. Keep in mind that the major gift fund-raiser’s role is to use your meetings, phone calls and other communications with this potential donor to develop a Rotary relationship.

The success of your cultivation depends on asking for the right gift amount, for the right program, at the right time. The time is right for solicitation when your conversations and research have provided enough background to know that now is a good time for the donor to give, you have a mutual understanding of which programs or projects the donor is passionate about, and you have enough information to know an appropriate gift range for which to ask. When the time approaches for you to make a solicitation, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Acknowledge the donor’s past Rotary service and leadership.
  • Show Rotary Pride – for example, show your shared, personal interest in Rotary’s outstanding service projects around the world
  • Be considerate by asking for consideration – don’t begin the conversation with the question, “Will you give a gift”, start instead with “Will you consider making a gift?”
  • State the specific amount you are asking for them to donate.
  • State the specific designation such as a particular area of focus or a fund.
  • BE QUIET (let the potential donor speak first)

Prepare for your solicitation meeting by writing out what you plan to say and rehearsing it aloud. Common errors of major gift solicitation include:

  • Talking too much
  • Sounding cold or inconsiderate
  • Using words like “should” and “ought”
  • Asking apologetically or with embarrassment
  • Breaking eye contact
  • Rushing the ask
  • Breaking silence too soon after the ask

If you have done your homework and followed all the steps above, your solicitation is successful. Carefully cultivating your donor and learning more about their background and charitable goal will help you align his or her goals with the available giving options to create an enticing solicitation the donor will gladly fund. If you focus on cultivation, successful and simple solicitation comes naturally.

If you’re still a bit nervous about cultivating your first potential donor, watch these solicitation role-playing videos to learn some tips:

Develop and promote service projects on

RC%20Monrovia%201Rotarians undertake service projects all over the world to make real, tangible change in people’s lives. Their projects are the furthest thing from “virtual reality!” However, “virtual tools” can be of great help in making service ideas into tangible reality.

In order to create real change in people’s lives, service projects need resources. They need money, materials, human expertise and effort. One club might have the idea while other clubs can bring in the money, the expertise, or the understanding of local needs. How can Rotarians connect all of these needs together?

The internet has provided us with an almost limitless ability to connect with people all over the world. Based on the recent success of crowdsourcing and funding , Rotary developed Rotary Ideas. Ideas is an online crowdsourcing platform where clubs can post projects needing resources and seek contributions from other, like-minded individuals around the globe. Potential contributors can agree to support a project financially, by donating volunteers or materials, or by partnering with the club.

After a project is complete, it’s important to share the results back with other Rotarians and contributors. Rotary clubs around the world accomplish thousands and thousands of service projects every year but it has been hard to see the collective impact of Rotary. Through Rotary Showcase, clubs can post descriptions, pictures and videos of their projects. By sharing their service project with the world, clubs can raise awareness of Rotary within their communities and show their impact.

RC%20Monrovia%202To see these tools in action, look at a recent project done by the Rotary Club of Monrovia, Liberia. In response to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the club created a project on Rotary Ideas to seek partners to aid them as they worked to provide support for Ebola patients and health workers. Rotary Ideas introduced the project to potential contributors who were able to contact the club for more information about contributing. After the project reached it’s first milestone, the club posted an update on Rotary Showcase about their accomplishments. In this example, the club made an ideal use of the online tools on seek resources on Rotary Ideas, and post project successes and milestones on Rotary Showcase.

Do you still have questions about how to use these tools? The Rotary Social team has developed many resources to help you use these two tools. Email for user guides and video tutorials.

Marketing yourself to district leaders – The Elevator Speech

As a regional leader, you are frequently called upon to explain how you can serve as a resource to support district leaders. Having an elevator pitch prepared is a great way to do this. An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what you do. You can also use them to create interest in a project, idea, or product – or in yourself. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than 30 seconds and should be interesting, memorable, and succinct.

We asked some of the trainers during the 2015 Regional Leaders’ Training Institute, to explain their roles to a district governor in sixty seconds or less. Here is what they said:

How do you explain your role to district leader’s in your region?

The internationality of Rotary – Meet Stephanie Urchick

UrchickHailing from Western Pennsylvania, USA, Stephanie Urchick has spent her career working in higher education and college administration. A Rotarian for 23 years and a member of the Rotary Club of Canonsburg Houston Southpointe, USA, she shared with me her motivation for joining Rotary and who she’d most like to interview in the world.

You mentioned earlier that when you were younger, you thought you’d move away from Pennsylvania. Why did you end up staying there?

When I was younger, my dream was to join the Foreign Service or work for a government intelligence agency. I was really focused on international service but when I graduated from college with a degree in international affairs and was waiting for my application to go through, I found a job near my hometown and I’ve been here ever since.

What first attracted you to Rotary?

In 1991, I was asked to go to a meeting by a female acquaintance. Women had only been Rotary members for a few years and I wasn’t sure what to expect besides the usual stereotypes. I asked her what Rotary was. She provided a really great description of what Rotary was – that Rotary clubs are involved in both community and international service – and what Rotary did. The international aspect of Rotary was what really enticed me to join and its part of what has made me stay.

I experienced the internationality of the organization firsthand when two young women participating in a Group Study Exchange stayed with me. We spent a lot of time talking about our similarities and differences and I thought, “How would I have ever had this opportunity, to meet people like this if it wasn’t for Rotary.” And I realized: I wouldn’t have.

As a member of the Rotary Foundation Trustees from 2012-14, you probably asked people to contribute to The Rotary Foundation on a regular basis. What do you say to convince them that the Foundation should be their charity of choice?

I always tell people that it is the only charity where you can give and get back. The money that a donor contributes comes back to your club so that you can do projects and help people around the world.

That’s very true and something that is unique to Rotary. Speaking of service projects, of all the ones you’ve had an opportunity to work on, which has been your favorite?

Hands down, a maternal health project that my Rotary club did in southeast Poland. Through a Matching Grant, we worked with Polish clubs to build a mammography and biopsy unit in a local hospital. By partnering with Siemens in Germany, we were able to get supplies and machines donated and the staff trained. This project was done in 2000 and many women didn’t have access to the right equipment to obtain a diagnosis of breast cancer early enough to save their lives. The unit performed 5,000 mammograms per year – can you imagine the amount of lives that have been saved during that time? I attended the dedication ceremony as part of a Rotary Friendship Team and it was really special seeing the difference this was going to make in women’s lives.

It’s always great to hear about people helping others – if you could interview anyone around the world, who would it be?

I would interview Bono from U2. I would ask him two things: first, what made him choose his celebrity to help solve world problems? And second, what are his tips for encouraging normal people to serve the world. Because that is what I am – an ordinary person who is trying to make the world a better place.

If you could change anything about Rotary, what would it be?

I would make meetings less expensive so more people could attend and enjoy them. There are so many good ideas and connections that come out of large meetings such as the Rotary International Convention. However, it’s hard to pick and choose what I am able to go to. It makes for some very tough choices.

Finally, as TRF Moderator for this year’s 2015 Regional Leaders Training Institute, what is the one thing you are most excited about?

I am very excited to try a new format for this training with only incoming volunteer leaders. These leaders will have many fresh ideas and energy that is contagious.

These groups are so important to the work that Rotary does. They are like a quilt – each group is one piece and together they can do more than just one piece alone.

“Tell, do, and see the difference” – Meet Barry Matheson

Barry MathesonBorn to British parents in Sweden, Barry Matheson currently lives in Norway and has an internationality that is not uncommon within our organization. In terms of languages, he always says his thoughts are in Norwegian first, than English. While he was in Evanston in January, we discussed what Rotary means to him and what he’s most excited about for the upcoming 2015 Regional Leaders Training Institute.

Barry, what is your occupation?

I am in musical performing arts management. I currently own one of the oldest Norwegian performing arts companies, Continental Artist Management, representing a diverse group of clients from recording artists to composers and songwriters.

When was the first time you realized you were a Rotarian?

I joined Rotary twenty seven years ago for the professional network it provided me. But, it wasn’t until I participated in a Rotary event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 10 years after I joined Rotary, that I truly “got” what Rotary is. All of a sudden, I could see the needs of others with my own eyes, which was an incredible experience. I witnessed what Rotary was doing and accomplishing. I could also see what more could be done to help others and I thought, “This is where I can contribute and make a difference”. “This is what Rotary is about – tell, do, and see the difference.”

What is one thing you wish you could change about Rotary?

Our attendance requirements. Right now, there is too much focus – at least in my region – on club meeting attendance. Many current, and potential members, want Rotary to be about participation in projects, community events and engagement in exposing Rotary to the “outside world”. I believe we should be measuring engagement, participation, and living our brand as an alternative to attendance at club meetings.

Speaking of engagement, tell us about your favorite service project you have worked on?

Every second year, through a national multi-district project, we hold a two-week camp for young people with a physical disability. It’s held in the mountains, by a large lake, and we accept candidates from all over the world. During those two weeks, campers have the opportunity to meet new people, work together to solve problems, and, most importantly, test their physical limits. It’s a truly life changing experience. I have seen young people stretch their capabilities beyond imagination, which in turn will give them self confidence in all situations in life that and will follow them throughout the rest of their lives.

If you could interview anyone around the world, who would it be and why?

I would like to interview the top religious leaders of all faiths, starting with the Pope since he’s the most accessible. I would ask them, “How can you use your influence, to make a difference to build peace? What do you need from others?”

Why are the regional leader groups important to the work that Rotary does around the world?

Regional Rotary Foundation coordinators, Rotary coordinators, Rotary public image coordinators, and endowment/major gifts advisers are the best toolkit a district could want. They have the knowledge that the district governors, and additional district leadership needs to help increase all areas of Rotary.

At this year’s training, we’ll be focusing a lot on teamwork. It’s a tremendous opportunity to have the incoming regional leaders train with the directors-elect and incoming trustees. I think this will really raise the bar and allow the groups to focus on how to support each other to achieve goals.