Rotarians: key to elevate Rotaract

by Solomon Hermoso, Pilipinas Rotaract MDIO Secretary General

The Pilipinas Rotaract Multi-District Information Organization (MDIO), the Rotary International District 3780 through its Rotary Academy series, and the Rotary Club of West Central organized the Elevate Rotaract Summit for Rotarians in the Philippines last November 25, 2020 via Zoom.

The summit deepened the understanding of Rotarians of Elevate Rotaract policy changes which began with the 2019 Council on Legislation that made Rotaract clubs a membership type of Rotary International (RI). Following this landmark legislation were subsequent policy changes approved by the RI and Rotary Foundation Board as recommended by an Elevate Rotaract Task Force.

A poll was administered to check Rotarians' perspectives on Elevate Rotaract policy changes

Melchor “Chock” Encabo, a member of the 2019 Elevate Rotaract Task Force and a current member of the RI Rotaract Committee, summarized the key policy changes to the following five (5) points.


1. Expansion of Rotaract Club Sponsorship Options

Effective July 1, 2020, Rotaract Clubs can now be sponsored through any of the following options: a) one or more Rotary Club/s (previous policy); b) one or more Rotaract Club/s; c) combination of two or more Rotary and Rotaract Clubs; d) without any sponsor. This is to give Rotaract clubs greater flexibility as to the kind of sponsor relationship that best meets their needs. The expansion of sponsorship options applies to both new and existing Rotaract Clubs.

2. Removal of Upper Age Limit for Rotaractors

Effective July 1, 2020, Rotaract Clubs will now be open to all young adults ages 18 years old and over. A Rotaract Club may, but is not required to, set an age limit in its bylaws. In the previous policy, Rotaractors are forced to leave Rotaract at the age of 31 to encourage them to join a Rotary club. However, most end up just leaving the family of Rotary as they still do not feel ready to join a Rotary club. Hence, the removal of the upper age limit intends to give Rotaractors the flexibility to decide for themselves when they are ready to leave Rotaract hopefully, for Rotary.

3. Greater Involvement of Rotaract in The Rotary Foundation (TRF)

The Rotaract Club Bylaws was revised to include the Foundation Committee as a standing committee of a Rotaract Club effective July 1, 2020. This committee shall provide training opportunities to Rotaract Club members about TRF and tap them to raise funds for TRF through various activities. The Trustees of TRF also agreed to allow Rotaract Clubs to be either the international or host sponsor of a global grant, beginning July 1, 2022, provided that the Rotaract Club has previously partnered with a Rotary Club on a global grant. They have also maintained that Rotaractors can still be eligible recipients of global grant scholarships and Rotary Peace Fellowships funded by TRF. The Trustees recognized that many Rotaract clubs are already doing innovative, sustainable service projects that are aligned with Rotary's areas of focus on scale similar to that of global grant projects, without any funding assistance from TRF. The Trustees believe that allowing Rotaract clubs to sponsor global grants will give them the opportunity to do even more good in the world. Participating in Foundation programs will also encourage Rotaract clubs to fundraise for the World Fund, which will result in even more resources for their clubs and others around the world.

4. Appointment of Rotaractors in Rotary District Committees

District Governors are strongly encouraged to appoint good standing Rotaractors in every district Rotary committee. This is a call for closer partnership between Rotarians and Rotaractors in shaping the future of the organization especially at the local level. Rotary International also recognizes the valuable inputs of Rotaractors in developing unique membership experiences and service projects.

5. Collection of Annual Dues Per Rotaractor to Expand RI Services for Rotaract

Rotaractors will begin paying annual dues to RI effective July 1, 2022 at the rate 5 USD for university-based clubs and 8 USD for community-based clubs. The determination of rate was based on the result of a survey conducted to Rotaractors. In return, the 50 USD one-time fee for chartering a new Rotaract club will be eliminated. The dues collected from the Rotaractors will support RI’s initiatives of developing new products and expanding existing services that will deliver greater value to all Rotaractors. Some of which include Rotaractors gaining access to new communications and leadership development resources, especially from Toastmasters International, as well as provision of online goals setting and club administration tools for Rotaract Clubs.

The three goals of RI to gauge Elevate Rotaract success

Rotary International is also currently looking on how to improve the Interact program similar to the status of Rotaract prior to elevation. An Interact Advisory Council composed of Interactors and recent Interact alumni will be formed to advise RI Board on shaping the future of Interact.

Serving as panelist to the Elevate Rotaract Summit was Nishita Pednakar, Past District Rotaract Representative of Rotary International District 3170 in India and the Rotaract Moderator for the 2021 RI Assembly. She believes that Elevate Rotaract just came in time when Rotarians and Rotaractors needed to work together especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In India, joint ventures between Rotary Clubs and Rotaract Clubs, especially during this pandemic, created more interaction and unity under one Rotary Family. With the changes brought by Elevate Rotaract, we now have many opportunities for mutual collaboration. When we [Rotaractors and Rotarians] work together, the action of Rotaractors inspires Rotarians while the experience of Rotarians mentors Rotaractors,” said Nishita.

With regards to Rotaractors paying dues, she believes that Rotary Clubs should carefully assess where their sponsored Rotaract Clubs stand.

“There are certain areas where Rotaract Clubs are passionate and active but depend financially on Rotary Clubs. If we do not support these Rotaractors, they will lose their members. There are areas where Rotaract Clubs are self-sufficient, and this is where Rotary Clubs can focus more on providing additional professional and leadership development, assistance in doing service to communities, and attracting them to Rotary,” added Nishita.

Panelist Nishita and Speaker Chock during the panel discussion moderated by Charter President Aya

Based on the surveys administered by Pilipinas Rotaract MDIO this Rotary year, 150 Rotaractors in the Philippines have already crossed over to Rotary. As to the capacity to pay the annual dues for Rotaractors by 2022, 57% are affirmative while 43% are still doubtful, most especially those who are from the university-based Rotaract Clubs. Suggestions include forging a cost-sharing arrangement with their sponsoring Rotary Clubs and conducting income generating activities.

Pilipinas Rotaract MDIO, along with the member districts, will continue to find opportunities for Rotarians and Rotaractors in the country to achieve the objectives of Elevate Rotaract. “We should see Elevate Rotaract not as a move to widen the gap between Rotary and Rotaract but to set a platform for Rotarians and Rotaractors to work together and co-create a better future for Rotary. With the help of Rotarians in the Philippines, I hope that Elevate Rotaract will be successful in our country and be a model for other regions to follow,” said Louie De Real, Pilipinas Rotaract MDIO Chair.

“Elevate Rotaract positions Rotary into a future that is innovative, inclusive and adapting to the world around us. It recognizes that Rotaractors work side by side with Rotarians to create lasting change across communities and in ourselves,” added Ligaya Nicole “Aya” Corpus, Charter President of the Rotary Club of West Central, the club that hosted the summit.

“We should remember that Rotary strives on the diversity of our organization. Our members come in different ages, professions, backgrounds, and neighborhoods. Rotary’s diversity gives it more reason to offer an invitation to our youth and let them become the future leaders of our society,” shared RI District 3780 Governor Johny Yu.

“It is said that the future of Rotary is in our [Rotarians] hands but really it is on the hands of those who will come after us - the next generation,” added RI District 3780 Deputy District Trainer Past District Governor Rufino “Penny” Policarpio III in his closing statement for the summit.

This article was featured in the December 2020 issue of the Philippine Rotary Magazine as seen below.

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