Busting the Myths

Rotary – Busting the Myths!

It is common for many people that  don’t always fully understand what we do and who we are in Rotary.

So 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. Today women represent approximately 17% of Rotary membership in Australia, yet leadership positions filled by women are well above this percentage. 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 one’s age is just a number, and it is one’s attitude that is important. So I guess that depends on at which age you believe “old” cuts in, but you can join Rotary at 18 or 118!. Either way, Rotary welcomes “younger” members with open arms. We are depending on them to keep our organisation vibrant.

Myth 3 – You have to attend every week

Most 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 business professional. 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 give, not what you can’t.

Myth 4 – Rotary is only for Doctors, Lawyers and CEOs

Rotary’s 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 role for you in Rotary.

Myth 5 – Membership is by invitation only

Anyone can visit and join Rotary club. There are no secret handshakes or “member only” rituals in Rotary. We accept members from all walks of life, and have no cultural or religious barriers or expectations. Meetings are open and everyone is welcome. If after attending a few meetings, you have shown interest in joining a club, and you are a person of good standing in 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 cook barbecues

Yes, we cook the world’s best sausages but soon you’ll realise that’s not the only thing we do. Rotary clubs adopt many initiatives for raising funds to support their projects. Barbecues are a part of life in Australia, and it’s true that they are one of the more visible methods by which Rotary clubs raise their funds, but behind the scenes there are many less obvious ways that hard working Rotarians raise their funds and contribute to the community.

Myth 8 – You’ve seen one Rotary club, you’ve seen them all

There are over 34,000 Rotary clubs in the world (over 1,100 in Australia) and no two are the same. They are all unique, with unique members, unique projects, and unique culture. Each has its own board of directors who administer the club autonomously. One of them is just right for you!

Myth 9 – You cannot discuss your business or profession in Rotary

The first ever Rotary meeting, 110 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 its roots are firmly embedded in business networking.

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. Every club is different. Some are more progressive, and some have a more traditional culture. But let there be no doubt, Rotary is changing for the better. Give Rotary a go TODAY!

We think these myths have been totally busted!