Answering tough questions

By Shirley Downie, Rotary public image coordinator, Zone 20A (South)

How many different audiences have you encountered during your Rotary career? It’s probably countless! You have probably fielded 100s of questions.

When dealing with the different audiences, you can personalize your responses by considering some of the following guidelines:

  • Define the situation – Do extensive research beforehand on events and programmes. Ask these five questions to get at the motivation of your audience–who, what, when, why, and where?
  • Establish and share the objectives: Confirm the goals, aims and achievements. Outline new objectives specifically and make sure they are measurable, achievable and attainable.
  • Identify the target audience: When you embark on any event or programme, identify the type of audience you are talking to. Are they internal, such as other Rotarians, Rotaractors, etc.? Or are they external such as media, government, etc.? Draw up a list of everyone that could be involved in the event/programme. Depending on who is addressing you, think carefully about your response – repeat the question to ensure you have understood it and once you have responded, ask if they are happy with the answer.
  • Create a specific message: Once you have identified your different audiences, think about the most common questions likely to be raised. Surprise your audience by responding to a frequently asked question in a unique way. Use creative angles when responding and avoid the same old standard response. Consider including specific information. For example, if you are addressing the media, include quotations and photos and highlight Rotary’s amazing achievements – such as Polio eradication – for the press article.
  • Explain how: Outline how the project or initiative will proceed. Include the estimated timeframes.
  • Include amounts: Tough questions frequently ask about money or funds. Include the budget where applicable and acknowledge where the funds have come from or who they are going to.
  • Talk about evaluation: Include the evaluation strategy. How many people will benefit? What tools are you using to measure the outcomes? Is it sustainable? Were the objectives met?

For easy reference, remember the acronym DOTMABE:


Good luck with your question and answer sessions!


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.