RI President Holger Knaack’s theme for 2020-21, Rotary Opens Opportunities, asks Rotarians to create opportunities that strengthen their leadership, help put service ideas into action, and improve the lives of those in need.
Rotary Opens Opportunities
Rotary isn’t just a club for people to join, but rather an invitation to endless opportunities. Rotary creates pathways for members to improve their lives and the lives of those they help through service projects.
We believe that our acts of service, big and small, create opportunities for people who need our help. Rotary creates leadership opportunities and gives members the chance to travel the world to put their service ideas into action and make lifelong connections. Everything we do opens another opportunity for someone, somewhere.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced all of us to adapt. This is good, and our new Action Plan specifically calls on us to improve our ability to adapt. But adaptation is not enough. We need to change, and change dramatically, if we are to face the challenges of this new age and provide the Rotary the world so desperately needs.
This is our great challenge, not just in the next year but into the foreseeable future. It is up to us to remake Rotary for these new times — to wholeheartedly embrace the ideas, energy, and commitment of young people eager to find an outlet for idealism. We must become an organization fully enmeshed in the digital age, not one that simply looks for online ways to keep doing what we have always done.
The world is changing rapidly — and was doing so even before this crisis. People were starting to move away from regular lunch meetings and toward online gatherings. Friendships were being cultivated and revived in social media relationships even before most of our meetings moved to Zoom and Skype. Younger generations have a strong desire to serve — but have questioned whether they could play a meaningful role in organizations like Rotary or whether they might make a bigger impact forming different types of connections. Now is the time to put everything on the table, test new approaches, and prepare Rotary for the future.
While stressing the need for Rotary members to embrace change, it is good to note that time won’t slow down for Rotary: We will not let rapid change defeat us. We will capture this moment to grow Rotary, making it stronger, more adaptable, and even more aligned with our core values.
The world needs Rotary now more than ever. It is up to us to make sure that Rotary Opens Opportunities for generations to come.
RC Herzogtum Lauenburg-Mölln, Germany
Rotary International President 2020-2021