More than 1.2 million Rotarians belong to over 31,000 clubs in 168 countries making Rotary the most significant service organisation in the world.
During a century of service, Rotary can be justifiably proud of its record of achievements that range from local community projects to worldwide service projects, such as, the successful polio eradication campaign.
While the Rotary wheel is one of the most recognisable and respected symbols in the world, remarkably few people can detail the role of Rotary or nominate the projects it undertakes.
To many people, Rotary is just a lunch or dinner meeting of middle-aged businessmen identified with a single local project or activity such as the local Rotary clock in the shopping centre, business awards, a market or the annual Christmas stocking!
Of course, there are many people whose lives have been directly touched by Rotary through donations and sponsorships, youth exchange and other youth projects, Group Study Exchange teams and vocational programs, community events and the provision of equipment, new buildings or facilities.
More Promotion Required
However, we do have to do more to promote Rotary. Promotion of our work in Rotary is not about seeking praise for its own sake. It is about ensuring that Rotary has a strong future.
It is about attracting new members. It is about generating more funds and business and community support for crucial local, national and international projects. It is about encouraging good citizenship and attracting young people, in particular, to programs that will develop their leadership potential. It is about establishing Rotary as an important resource in the community to assist those in need.
And in this day and age, it is also about Rotary promoting peace and international goodwill and being an advocate for the issues and causes that are less likely to attract celebrity supporters such as mental health.
In a small but important way, promotion of our work in Rotary is also about providing balance to news coverage with some good news stories and the message that people can make a positive difference to the lives of others with a small investment of their time and skills.
As an organisation, we must become more focused on promotion of Rotary International and our work. We can certainly show humility and share the credit, but we must promote our Rotary work if it is to continue, and grow, and if we are to retain our vitality by recruiting and maintaining enthusiastic and committed new members.