I’m not going to beat around the bush, I’m a Rotarian and proud of it. Rotary is a community service club that is made up of business professionals from all vocations who put their knowledge and skills towars national and international projects related to water, health, hunger, literacy, education and polio eradication.
Like many other service clubs, they are experiencing dwindling memberships and the kudos of being associated and a member of a club that used to occur in the past, now no longer happens. There are many reasons why this is so but in my opinion, there are so many things nowadays that people can get involved with – whether it’s with family, hobbies, and sport that community service clubs are now in more competition with these than ever. Also, service clubs like Rotary that have been around for over 100 years also have misconceptions around them due to usually not promoting their work and marketing their projects to the public so what the public think of Rotary are incorrect perceptions of the club such as them being ‘men only’; by invitation only; old fashioned and out of step with the modern times. This may be right for some clubs, but clubs are made up of different members and it’s a matter of finding a club who have members with similar ideals and values and assuredly, you’d find an instant network of friends who share your community spirit.
Recently I joined the Rotary eClub of Greater Melbourne. One way of attracting business professionals who may not have time to attend physical meetings is to charter clubs that connect with people all around the world and use social media to collaborate around fundraising and awareness projects. The club uses software that uses discussion forums and synchronous chat but also uses video conferencing and webinars through the computer to meet online at various times. In the discussion forums, you can connect with your other club members to discuss ideas, upload and download resources, post quotes, photos and documents and effectively, you can be anywhere around the world and never have to miss what is going on.
When you come to the home page on www.rotaryeclubgreatermelbourne.org.au you see this page:
From this page, members can use their allocated Usernames and Passwords to access the site and connect with other club members. This site is not open to the public but you will need to put in an Expression of Interest to join the club through an online form and once your nomination is accepted, you will join the club and be given a user name and password once inducted into the club.
Once you put in your username and password, you go directly to the Member’s Area where you see the Forum, Projects and Chat area. Click on the Forum, and you will see all the discussions forums in progress that members can read and contribute
The site also has a Chat area where you can chat with others (synchronously) at the same time you are on by typing messages to each other.
This is a big step for Rotary and they have been setting e-Clubs for some years and I believe that they are the first community service organisation to do so. A Google search reveals that there are many e-clubs around the world but the Rotary eClub of Greater Melbourne is the first of its kind in Victoria, Australia.
Already, we have the minimum number of 25 people (of all ages and professions) to charter the club and have it formally recognised by Rotary International in the USA and as of next week, for those members who are within our city, will meet for the first time face to face to celebrate the club’s charter. Our first meeting will see us be inducted into the Rotary Club and set the agenda for how we will work together virtually and agree on community service and fundraising projects that we can all assist with regardless of our location anywhere around the world.
I’m excited to be part of this ‘first of its kind’ community service club and in the process use social media for my community services. Although I use social media for my profession in Learning and Development, this takes the medium to another level and another industry – somewhere where I can use my knowledge and skills in social media to apply to a community service project and club and in the process, guide and teach my colleagues and fellow club members in these skills too that will only assist them in their professional and career development.
We are always on the lookout for more members to join our e-club and no, you don’t have to be in Melbourne – you can live and work anywhere around the world.
If you’re interested, go to the website: http://rotaryeclubgreatermelbourne.org.au/ and fill in an Expression of Interest form and we hope to see you online!