The new Rotary year has started! This means that Interact, Rotaract and Rotary clubs worldwide change their teams ,thus the Rotary wheel is spun by the brand new winds!
Loads of new ideas, projects and plans burst into the clubs and an incipient excitement for everything that is to come moves rotary members everywhere. Since you may also be part of this slight collective hysteria because you are an active member, you have a new position in your club or you may look to have one soon; it may interest you to take a look at everything our amazing organization has to offer. From international goals and funding to tips on how to make your projects stronger through marketing and partnerships. In this article, you will find a lot of interesting information to be ready for the New Rotary Year!
Where to start?
The new year seems overwhelmingly exciting and many new ideas are on the table leaving club members in a position where they wonder… Where should they start? Which project should they do first? And how should they develop an idea?. Sometimes it’s good to put things into perspective and remember that we are part of an incredibly big organization, and the sum is bigger than its parts here. Our club is only one of the many wheels of a Rotary machine, but each needs to spin to make change.
Rotary aims to improve life in the world, and to do that it is organized in clubs where local leaders develop projects to transform and improve their communities. As an international organization, Rotary has seven areas of focus to which our clubs can contribute to:
- Peacebuilding and conflict prevention
- Disease prevention and treatment
- Water, sanitation and hygiene
- Maternal and child health
- Basic education and literacy
- Community economic development
These areas of focus aim to coordinate Rotarian action and impact. To do so, the Rotary foundation provides global and district grants to co-fund humanitarian projects. This new Rotaract year, Rotaract Clubs will be able, for the first time, to apply for global grants without a sponsoring Rotary club, allowing them to increase their potential. But, as we know, the impact of projects is not only related to funding, a well-designed project is one that has analyzed the needs of the community and the possible result of the action. Community meetings, focus groups and interviews with stakeholders are tools that allow to engage with the communities, recognize needs and discuss possible solutions. This avoids top-down approaches and increases the impact of projects.
Fundraising and Finances
Focusing on a detailed strategy for each Rotaractor is important. Even though not all projects need funding, for some it may be essential,thus for them it is key to establish funding and sponsorship strategies. To build a successful sponsor relationship, it’s fundamental to outline expectations and responsibilities for clubs, sponsors, and advisers.
Partnerships between Rotaract clubs and their sponsors can help both sides grow because sponsor clubs/companies are also interested in budgeting to help clubs fulfill their goals.
Sponsors and advisers can support Rotaract clubs by creating development opportunities that match both sponsor clubs and Rotaractors based on interests, offering advice during project planning, and giving Rotaractors meaningful roles in Rotary meetings and events…
Budgeting is usually advised be based on detailed studies with experts in and outside the club through 5 main steps:
- 1- Assessing financial resources by calculating how much money comes to the club each period (for example each month)
- 2- Determining expenses by gathering club financial data and recording all spendings.
- 3- Choosing a budget plan by deciding which type of budget the club is looking for (zero budget, envelope system, 50-30-20 Plan…)
- 4- Adjusting habits by determining what can be cut off, what areas are needed to increase the budget and checking if services are available at a lower cost
- 5- Implementing the financial plan
Fundraising is a huge word. And good financial decisions are crucial for success! This year’s fundraisers in Rotaract Clubs will mainly be focusing on events, yard sales in different areas, activities, marathons and sports competitions…However, any inventive way of fundraising is just as well encouraged to serve the community.
Establishing Connections and Partnerships
For Rotaract projects, sometimes it may be important to establish partnerships with other organizations or professionals/intellectuals so that projects can be implemented with a higher level of efficiency. We can overall divide partnerships into two categories: domestic and international.
Partnering with other Rotaract clubs to increase the area of impact, exchange different ideas, set a pool of more connections or increase the number of people in support is always a good choice, as it also increases friendships between club members. Partnering with Rotaract clubs can be done with clubs in the same city or district, or also internationally; which may serve as a great step to initiate twinning between clubs. To find Rotaract clubs that share interests with your own ,you can use social media, as well as Rotaract Mediterranean’s Directory to reach out. Another idea may be to meet up with people in person at Rotaract Events, such as the Med’s very own M2R and MediCon.
Similarly, incorporation of the youth may also be a good choice depending on the project. Especially for school and youth-related projects, the inclusion of Interact clubs can broaden the perspective and would provide access to more information.
Rotary clubs, whether they are your sponsor club or a different club; may be a great service to assist you in finding financial resources, and connections to municipalities or institutions, or they may guide you with their experience regarding how to navigate a certain type of project.
Depending on your area of interest, it may also be helpful to reach out to some associations that have your project at hand in their scope of services, and they may be looking for help from individuals; similarly, your ideas may benefit them to provide services. Associations that prioritize social responsibility as a cause are similarly a good choice, since they may provide financial support for your plan.
Running Rotaract Projects
When the planning and pre-partnership phase of the project or event is completed, it will be time for implementation. To do that, Rotaractors must be careful regarding the equipment needs. For instance, a renovation project may need construction tools and paint; and this would call for contacting relevant companies. On the other hand, an awareness project may need online distribution tools, and contacting relevant professionals may be helpful.
Another aspect to consider is the permissions that are required for certain types of projects. Projects regarding service to the elders, children or animals; or anything related to holding out events to the public may require specific permissions from the municipality. To avoid future issues, it is always best to check the legal requirements beforehand, and consult experienced professionals and/or your Rotary club.
Fieldwork is always fun as you get to physically interact with many other individuals if the project is calling for it. To set a day, make sure to keep national or religious holidays in your area (if you have international collaborations, international areas as well) in mind. Does your project involve interacting with the individuals, or is it a renovation project that would require the place to be empty? What is the working schedule of your members and how can one maximize member participation? These are all essential questions when it comes to deciding on a day to do active fieldwork.
And then, another step would be to account for transportation. If the destination is far away from members, rideshares or getting support from transport companies to get there may be a good option depending on the distance. Once you are at your destination for the fieldwork, you can simply be happy that you are contributing to a better world, and have fun!
Marketing in Rotaract
In today’s world, the use of social media is common in our daily lives. But did you know that you can use these very platforms to promote your page and ensure greater visibility for your club? Here are some pointers to assist you with your social media marketing:
- Have a clear goal :
First of all, you need to know why you need the presence of social media. This goal varies from club to club. You can build a social media platform based on your club’s values and the message your club wants to convey to the world. An important step is to get to know your audience. Who are they? What are they interested in?
Keep in mind that what works in another community may not necessarily work in yours. Knowing these details will help you engage with them well.
Now that you have defined your goals, how do you keep the work going?
- The importance of having a team in charge:
You know what they say! Teamwork makes the dream work. Just like having a single social media platform won’t help you achieve your goals, neither will having one person in charge. Different tasks need to be distributed among team members. It can be a simple task, such as creating content, taking photos, video, editing and creating compelling headlines. This will ensure that the work will go smoothly and that you will have enough content to post.
After building the team, now is the time to think about how to display your content.
- Importance of hashtags and mentions:
Hashtags are your best friend. They help you classify your posts and make it easier for people to find them based on their tastes. You can look up popular hashtags related to your content. This is a great way to build excitement and momentum.
- Listen and share :
A good way to interact with your audience is based on the topic they are interested in. What makes this interesting is that you will find that influential conversations are already taking place.
Find out about related topics that support the ultimate goal of sharing with your audience. By sharing trustworthy content you encourage people to engage and learn more about your initiatives.
You can customize your content based on your viewers and the different platforms they use. Keep in mind that people are more likely to engage with interactive photos and videos. Film meetings, actions, club gatherings and talk more about club members. Link back to your site to provide insights into the history behind these stories and videos.
- Importance of frequent posts:
Get in the habit of posting more often. Share your club’s success stories, upload teaser ads for upcoming projects, Rotary/Rotaract and Interact-related content, and more. You should post at least once a week to keep your page up to date. Encourage people to like, share, and retweet content to reach more viewers.
- Raising awareness:
One of the best ways to interact with a community is to get involved in an important purpose of the community. This can range from environmental issues to health issues to educational issues.
Another great way is to leverage important international dates that can be used to create a variety of content. You can set a working date and schedule it in advance.
Talking about the closure at the beginning of the Rotarian year may be contradictory, but nothing could be further from the truth. Rotary aims to create sustainable projects by providing long-term solutions to community problems. For this reason, thinking about what the impact of the project is going to be once the project is finished or how it may be continued, is something we may ask ourselves before designing the action and getting to work.
To do this it is important to revise previous projects and learn from the experience of other clubs or members of the communities. Tools like Rotary showcase, district media pages or MDIOs, are useful tools that can be used to learn about past experiences. Additionally, asking for feedback and revising the impact of previous club actions allows to plan the designed projects and ensure a good closure.
We are looking forward to seeing your projects and accomplishments throughout the year. As Rotaract Mediterranean, it is our priority to provide you with several opportunities and challenges to have twin clubs, meet other people, and be part of projects. So stay tuned as always!
by Carlota Buznego, Eslem Dridi, Fouad Bou Ghader, Melis Leyal Gürel
Edited by Melis Leyal Gürel