Friends of the Rotary Club of Richmond

Our Friends of Richmond Rotary have been a boon for our club, contributing to a new vibrancy & commitment that had been severely lacking at Richmond for many years.  Five years ago, apathy was rife & enthusiasm was non-existent – a Forum on Membership in early 2008 indicated that the Club was heading to the depth of irrelevance & we needed an urgent life-line.

It was decided that our Club had to broaden its exposure & we adopted an “open-door” policy.  We felt that to be insular was a certain recipe for death.  So involvement by non-Rotarians in every aspect of club-life was encouraged & our then strong Partners Group was the perfect starting platform for this.  And at Richmond we’ve always understood that a vibrant Rotary commitment is a partnership with our spouses, partners, family, lovers etc.

Our task was to engage & expand this group to a meaningful level where they are able to play an active role in the machinations of our Club.

FRIENDS OF RICHMOND ROTARY (FoRR): are an autonomous & a powerful associate group.

Membership is open for the past members, potential members, their partners & families but most of all – the many volunteers who assist in our projects.  They function under its own constitution, meeting structure, projects & governing officers.

They are NOT an Inner Wheel.  They are part of the Richmond Team & consist:

  • Partners of Rotarians
  • Partners of deceased Rotarians
  • Past Rotarians
  • Partners of Past Rotarians
  • Friends of Rotarians
  • Adult offspring of Rotarians
  • Other interested people

A Constitution and Membership Application Form with a referee component was developed.  It was considered that some screening was deemed necessary, as a commitment to Friends may lead later to Rotary membership.

 

AIMS:

Although it now provides a membership platform, its goal is to cater for those who want a meaningful association with our Club without membership.

In fact, FoRR is a comfortable “platform” for ex-members, undecided potential members & would-be volunteers sharing Rotary ideals.  It is ideal for those with a community spirit to serve under the banner of Rotary.  And just perhaps – in time consider Membership.  It’s a great place for the active procrastinator.

It gives opportunities for non-Rotarians:

  • To maintain continuous contact & dialogue with the Club & be informed of Rotary activities both locally and worldwide.
  • To enjoy the fellowship, support and social interaction & be welcomed to attend Clubmeetings at any time without notice.
  • To support & assist where possible with any Friends fundraising or charity event. 
  • To support and assist Rotary functions/events as determined by the Friends "Active committee”.

 

FORMAT:

Friends receive information from the Club by way of the weekly newsletter, usually electronically or hard copy & privy to most internal correspondence memos & emails.

Each Friend is provided with a name badge which acts as an entree to all Club meetings & events.

An informal committee is elected annually and known as the "ACTIVE COMMITTEE”.

The COMMITTEE Office bearers include a Co-ordinator (Chair), Secretary and Treasurer; they are drawn from the FoRR group.  They have their own bank account.

A Friend can choose at any time to nominate to become a Rotarian.

Vice-versa, a Rotarian may always participate in FoRR activities & many of our members often do!

As a Friend they are not considered to be a Rotarian.  Just a FoRR!

The "ACTIVE COMMITTEE" determines which charity or worthwhile project to support, whether it is in conjunction or independent of a Rotary project.

However endorsed Club projects are always preferred.

 

COMMITMENT:

Their commitment is to recognise that ALL people associated with the Rotary Club are valued, and to be mindful to always consider the needs of the Friends group & expected to protect the integrity of Rotary by advancing the ideals of Rotary International.

To provide interesting events/activities that encourages fellowship, social interaction and a sense of place and belonging within the Club.

The philosophy of the Friends Group has been to have formal meetings from time to time when necessary, with Minutes kept and fairly formal procedures, and to follow the format of the Constitution.  Apart from this the Friends are able to join in to Club and Friends activities very easily when they are able and willing, and are made to feel welcome and appreciated.  This may well be the secret of the Group’s success.

(Refer to “Proposed Constitution”)

 

HOW HAS THE CLUB EMBRACED THE FoRR?

The Chair (co-ordinator) sits on the Club Board ex-officio.  A monthly Board Report is required & tabled for discussion at every sitting of the Board.

Each year the Friends of Richmond Rotary are allocated a Club Project with an active role.  For example last year it was Public Relations & this year – Fellowship. 

Their attendance & support are acknowledged at all functions & in all salutations.

Partners of new members are automatically invited as Friends & are “welcomed” by the Friends Chair on the induction of the new member.  He or she is presented with a name badge as part of the official induction ceremony.

Currently FoRR has over 52 members.  And although our FoRR was not designed as a recruitment vehicle - Seven have joined as Rotarians & 14 ex- Rotarians & partners have renewed active connection with the Club.  Our Club membership is 43.

In two years they have funded 3 x Shelterboxes, Portable Toilets to Sri Lanka, Toys for the Salvation Army, Educational Equipment for our KindyBoxes Project to East Timor, financially supported our Club’s Prosthetic Limb Project in Vietnam & a number of local charities.

Next year, there are plans to actively assist with our Youth Exchange Student & assistance for hosting families of ROMAC patients.

The Friends have been instrumental in redesigning our Club Meetings to a more dinner atmosphere & hence encouraging better attendance, commitment & fun.  Their exposure to Rotary in this way is invaluable in harnessing enthusiasm & promoting Rotary ideas.

So in this time-poor age, busy schedules, financial constraints, reluctance to join service organisations we have found that the commitment to serve has NOT waned – only the vehicles to serve has shifted.

We have found that FoRR is a convenient “parking spot” for those who we call as “committed procrastinators” & to be sure, our Membership Committee review their status regularly.

The Club has also benefitted from the two-way communication of ideas & have learnt from some FoRR fellowship & fundraising activities.  Richmond has also learnt a lot from FoRR views that are unhindered by Rotary protocol & regulations. (Attendance, classification, costs).  We have always fostered free-speech.

It has also opened-up the exposure of Rotary to those who have little or no knowledge of Rotary.

 

COORDINATOR
Sally O'Sullivan

M: 0457 506 831
E:  secretary@rotaryrichmond.org,au
W: www.friendsofrichmondrotary.org