Rotary: Busting the Myths
We thought we'd share with you some answers to the TOP 10 myths we bump into out there in the community...
Myth 1 - Rotary is for men only
Rotary International began in 1905, and for the first 84 years of its existence, it is true that women were not admitted into membership. But as the prevalence of female business leaders began to grow, and in response to a ground swell of demand for female admission, Rotary changed its legislation in 1989 to admit women. Women are welcome in Rotary, and we are desperately keen to increase our female membership.
Myth 2 - Rotary is for old people
Some believe that your age is just a number, and it is your attitude that is important. So I guess that depends on at which age you believe “old” cuts in, but you can join Rotary at 25+
Myth 3 - You have to attend every week
Many Rotary clubs meet on a weekly basis, and members are encouraged to attend whenever possible, but we understand that there are many demands on the time of today’s professionals. In addition to regular club meetings, Rotarians have other ways to become involved, such as fundraising activities, community service projects, leadership training events and social activities. Some members are able to attend every week, but some prefer to contribute in other ways. We prefer to focus on what you can contribute, not what you can’t.
Myth 4 - Rotary is only for Doctors, Lawyers and CEOs
Rotary is NOT elitist. Our membership base is a broad cross section of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and professions. Our diversity is our strongest asset. Teachers, bankers, accountants, retailers, students, plumbers, electricians, health care workers, farmers… you name it, they are all represented in Rotary. Work from home? Just starting out in business? Moving up through the ranks? Made it to the top? Retired? There is a place for you in Rotary.
Myth 5 - Membership is by invitation only
Not true. Many members first get in touch through the club website or social media. We accept members from all walks of life, and we welcome and encourage interested parties to come along and meet us. If after attending a few meetings, you have shown an interest in joining our club, and you have a genuine desire to give something back to the community, you will more than likely be asked to join.
Myth 6 - Rotary is a religious organisation or a secret society
Rotary is non-religious and non-political. We have no secret handshake, no secret meetings and no secret rituals. It is an open organisation of men and women who simply believe in helping others.
Myth 7 - All Rotarians do is hold lunch or dinner meetings
It’s true we have a meal at our meetings but soon you’ll realise that’s not the only thing we do. Rotary clubs adopt many initiatives for funding and supporting their projects. Behind the scenes there are many less obvious ways that hard working Rotarians use their skills and experience to help communities in “hands-on” projects.
Myth 8 - You’ve seen one Rotary club, you’ve seen them all
There are over 34,000 Rotary clubs in 200 countries worldwide (over 1,600 in the UK) and no two are the same. They are all unique, with unique members, unique projects, and unique culture. Each has its own Council who administer the club autonomously. One of them is just right for you!
Myth 9 - You cannot discuss your business or profession in Rotary
"If any one tells you that it is reprehensible to make a dollar or two for the wife and babies from club associates in straightforward business transactions, tell that person that some foreign substance has gotten into his carburettor."(Paul P. Harris, Founder of Rotary, January 1911)
The first ever Rotary meeting, 111 years ago in Chicago, was initiated to serve the professional and social interests of its members. But as Rotary grew, members began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. Rotary is now the world’s premier humanitarian service organisation, but we haven't forgotten our roots.
Myth 10 - Rotary is an “old fashioned” organisation, with boring and ritualistic meetings
As a century old organisation, it’s reasonable to expect that there are some long observed traditions in some clubs. But the very highest levels of Rotary leadership, both at global and local level, are encouraging clubs to innovate and become more progressive in the way they do things. As a result, Rotary clubs are now far more flexible, effective and engaged with the community.