Written by Rotarian Michelle Tanner and Polio Chair Susanne Rea
In May 2014, Polio Chair Susanne Rea shared her story on Rotary Voices about how the World’s Greatest Meal is striving to fund a million polio vaccines through social media. The World’s Greatest Meal (WGM) is a project created by Polio Chair Susanne Rea (Rotary Club of Cairns Sunrise, Australia) and past District Governor Mukesh Malhotra, (Rotary Club of Hounslow, England).
The concept behind the project is simple: participants enjoy a meal together, raise funds to end polio, and use the power of social media to globally raise awareness of Rotary’s polio eradication campaign.
Initially, the focus was on holding an event around Rotary’s anniversary (23 February 2014) but as the reach of the project grew, the potential to really make a difference in ending polio became evident and the decision was made to continue it throughout the year.
So, how does the World’s Greatest Meal work? First, keep the project simple. Participants are encouraged to follow four steps:
- Refer to the World’s Greatest Meal website or Facebook
- Plan an event focused on sharing a meal then click ‘register event’ and add basic details to the WGM website
- Hold the WGM event.
- Submit the funds raised to The Rotary Foundation (be sure to indicate PolioPlus) and complete the after event form.
Social media is the backbone of this project. The first (global) Facebook page was followed by a website and many, country-based, WGM Facebook pages such as RIBI, District 7770 in the United States, and Spain. A video was created and made available in Spanish and English. Twitter and a YouTube channel followed.
Rotarians across the globe were ‘recruited’ to the project and the WGM Team was formed. The Rotary Convention in Sydney provided an opportunity for many on the team and other interested people to come together to share ideas and experiences at a post-convention meeting.
WGM aims to raise US$1m (including matched funds from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and have 500 events registered by World Polio Day, 24 October 2014. As of 4 September 2014, 544 events have been registered in 47 countries across 5 continents. The long term fundraising target is $5 million (including matching) by December 2018.
The WGM is an example of how an idea can grow into a global project. Contributions, small or large, are welcomed for a cause close to Rotary’s heart. What can you do to participate in this initiative? Why not mark World Polio Day on 24 October with your own WGM event – host a viewing party of Rotary’s World Polio Day 2014 Livestream event or host your own event.
More World Polio Day resources can be found on endpolio.org.