Whether you've been a club leader, or are about to be one, you've probably been asked over and over to add and edit your goals and achievements in Rotary Club Central. But... what is the point of it all? In this month's episode, find out why entering goals on Rotary Club Central is more than just an administrative task for your club.
Host: Nick Taylor, Club and District Support Associate Officer
Linda Morris, Club Secretary of the Rotary Club of Calgary Fish Creek, Alberta, Canada
Mary Turner, Governor of 5360 and member of the Rotary Club of Olds, Alberta, Canada
Sophie Dangerfield, Club and District Support Officer
Sarah Steacy, Club and District Support Associate Officer
Andrez Perez, Club and District Support Associate Officer
John Hannes, Club and District Support Senior Officer
All Things Rotary: A CDS Podcast
1.03: “But Like, Does Setting Club Goals Matter?”
Host: Nick Taylor
Guests: Linda Morris, Mary Turner, Sophie Dangerfield
Produced by: Sarah Steacy, John Hannes, Andrez Perez
[Intro Music begins]
SARAH: Hey Nick, have you gone on Rotary Club Central recently?
NICK: No, why?
SARAH: So club members can see the trends on the dashboard?
SARAH: Because the trends reflect the goals that we have set as a club in the Goal Center.
SARAH: Because our goals help manage our priorities as a club for the year.
NICK: But like, why?
SARAH: [sighs] I think we can all see where this is going. Usually when CDS talks about Rotary Club Central, we focus on how to access and navigate the site. On today’s episode, we want to talk about why you should use the tool and how it can actually be, as cheesy as it may sound, your club’s best friend.
NICK: This episode is brought to you by article 10 of the Rotary Code of Policies, which discusses the duties of club officers.
NICK: Alright everyone, and welcome so much to the third episode of All Things Rotary: A CDS Podcast. Super excited today to talk about a very exciting topic in Rotary Club Central and we have our panel of experts here to help walk us through this discussion. First, I want to introduce Sophie Dangerfield she's here from CDS. So Sophie, could you go ahead and explain a little about who you are and what you do?
SOPHIE: Thanks, Nick! I'm so happy to be here! My name's Sophie Dangerfield and I've been with Rotary for five years, now. I work on the Club and District Support team and I'm on a two person with the lovely Sarah, who produces your show. Together, we both support Canada and parts of the United States so, namely, the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. And the Club and District Support team, or CDS, helps district and club leaders interpret our Board policy and constitutional documents just to learn how it applies to any situations they have. And we also offer training for leaders, manage club operations (like starting new clubs), and then just help them navigate the online tools available to them - which is what we'll be talking about today!
NICK: Perfect! Love it! Yeah, gonna dive deep into the online tools that are available. Next we have our two, wonderful guests here from Canada. Linda, if you don't mind explaining yourself and where your from and kind of your introduction to Rotary, that'd be great.
LINDA: Hi, thanks! My name's Linda Morris and I am a charter member of the Rotary club of Calgary Fish Creek which chartered almost 25 years ago. How I got into it, I was a single mom and at the time was lacking the adult - what do you call it? The adult...
LINDA: Connection, thank you! [laughs] So, quickly joined from there. I've been involved in many leadership roles in the club and now, also, in the district. I'm heavily involved in Youth Exchange and am enjoying every minute of it.
NICK: Fantastic - I love how you joined for, you know, your reasons are to connect with other adults to kinda build that community, cuz that's what Rotary's all about, you know, it's all about building a community that you can rely on, that you can trust, and help you - especially during times like 2021, am I right? And next we have Mary Turner - Mary, if you don't mind explaining a little bit about yourself.
MARY: Yeah, sure, no problem Nick, and it's a real pleasure to be with all of you this afternoon. My name's Mary Turner, I'm the current District Governor of Rotary District 5360 which is in Southern Alberta and Western Saskatchewan. I became a Rotarian back in 2008, when I was asked at a colleague from work to join our local Rotary club. I've taken on many positions in our club, and various positions in the district, and now find myself as a district governor.
NICK: Excellent, thanks for sharing! So, without further ado, let's dive into this topic that we've got going for today which is Rotary Club Central. And so Linda, from your club's perspective I'd love to hear a little bit about your initial thoughts - or your thoughts about Rotary Club Central. How do you feel about it? Why does...does your club use it? Why do you use it? Those types of things.
LINDA: Well, I hope you have some time here! [Nick chuckles] So, our club discovered Rotary Club Central and this...these charts about four or five years ago. And for the club it, first and foremost, it's "what's in it for us," right? So it gives us a historical record for the club. So, "what have our goals been over the years? How has our membership grown? What kind of activities -service activities - have we done?" It's also, as I said, a record of fundraising or service activities and that's a great tool to give the chairs an idea of when they're setting up a fundraising event, or volunteer event, to look at things like "how many volunteers does it take?" So, "what did we do last year? How many volunteers did we need to pull that off, and how many hours did each of those volunteers put in and is there a return that we're happy with in doing that again?" So, the third things is it's a bit of a training and and onboarding record for any new Avenue of Service chairs coming in to the role. They can quickly look at some of the charts that are in there - the volunteering the fundraising - and see what's been done in the past, what it cost, what it raised, and how many volunteers. And, the last thing, the fourth thing from a club's perspective is it's now easier for us to submit our Citations. It's all in one place, nobody has to do a separate sheet, sign it, send it in. So, that's really much easier. And then, finally, for the district: this helps Mary - the district, the zone and RI actually - helps Mary understand what membership trends are looking forward in this district. So, are the clubs looking at gaining new members? Is there some problems with clubs losing members, and how can we help? And from an AG perspective, they can also look at all of these clubs and say "what are they doing well, and where are the gaps? Where do we need to help them?" So, I'll stop there - I still have lots, but I'll stop there.
NICK: No, that was fantastic stuff and I'm trying to remember everything that you just said. But there's definitely a few things that stuck out to me like the service projects. I mean, as somebody who talks about Rotary Club Central on a regular basis - and Sophie you can probably attest to this - is we're constantly talking about the goals, we're talking about Rotary Citation, but we don't always necessarily think about how we can take advantage of it with service projects and I love the idea of going back and looking at previous service projects and being like, "well this is what it took to do that. Do we have the bandwidth? Do we have the capability to do it again? Or do it differently?" And so that's really great. Has your club always done that? Or, is that something that you guys just kind of stumbled upon?
LINDA: Well, like I said, we were at a session about four years ago, and this was introduced and I - I'm a bit of a geek, a data geek so I loved it - and now I'm in the secretary role I make sure we use it. [chuckles] So, it has been very helpful.
NICK: Great! Yeah, that's awesome. And Mary, from a district perspective...like, we definitely know that Linda is the MVP of Rotary Club Central here, and she's doing a fantastic job specifically with all those things she just mentioned. But, how - have you seen other clubs really take advantage of it in different ways? Or, anything like that?
MARY: So one of the things that we've done in our district this last - oh, I guess the last two years - is we've pivoted from the idea of a PETS training program to a Club Leadership Training program. So, this way, we capture all the executive members that are coming on board for the new Rotary Year, and we've decided to implement the whole idea behind goal setting into our training programs for our new executives in all of our clubs. So that has not only opened their eyes to this huge resource, but Linda has also made the time to be available for all of our new club executives to help them become familiar with the tool, and to actually make it a part of their club planning. So it's been extremely helpful in that perspective. For myself as a district governor - and Linda kind of alluded to this - it gives me a great idea of where they are. So, prior to all of my district governor visits I took a look at all of the clubs, took a look at their goals, and just saw where they were in their planning process. So that helped a lot. And now that I'm doing a second round of governor visits, it helps to see the progress from last fall to now.
NICK: So, I'm really glad that you brought that up. That you, as district governor, actually go ahead and you look at these goals. You go through - cuz you have access to see all the different clubs in your district and see their goals. Um, that's one of the - [Mary overlaps] Yeah, yeah it is pretty cool -
MARY: [chuckling] Pretty amazing what you can see when you're the district governor [Nick laughs] - wow!
NICK: And I think a common misconception is that, like, Rotary International is always going on and checking clubs to see what they're doing and, Sophie, you can answer this question if you want. Like, does Rotary International do a similar thing such as like a DG?
SOPHIE: No, so that's the beauty of this tool is that it's really for you. And Mary, I liked how you said it gives us a picture of where we're at and I think that's essentially what it is, is you get not only the history of what you have done, where your club has been, what you have done, what your goals have been, whether you've met them - but, also, it gives you that accountability and responsibility towards all of your members. To really look at those goals, say, "hmm. These are the areas we can improve on, and look at these areas - these really are our strengths." Whereas, you might have known that before Rotary Club Central, but we didn't have that quantifiable data to really look and see what the trends were and how they were benefitting the club, and it just helps you grow. You know it's like anything, the moment that you set a goal you're going to be far-more-likely to reach that goal. And, it's really interesting how it paints that picture of the club, and that gives the district and interesting insight in to where the club's at.
NICK: Yeah, absolutely - it really is. It's a tool, and that's what I always tell people, too, like, this was designed for the volunteers. It was designed for Rotarians to take advantage of it the way that you guys are, and I think that's just awesome. But there is always that idea that Rotary International, "Big Brother," whatever you want to call it is always looking and always asking, you know to do these, you know "get your numbers" and it's kind of like in high school, right? You always had to do your homework, so it kinda has this "homework" vibe and whenever we're asking people from RI's perspective to do it - I always feel like I'm kind of assigning homework, right? And I don't know Mary, if you feel the same as a district governor getting ready for PETS and having all the presidents-elect making sure that they get their goals in - you kind of feel like you're assigning an assignment - am I right?
MARY: Oh, a hundred percent - and as the months go by and we're getting closer to the changing of the baton, it's like "you guys. Please get this work done for me!" because it's so important not only to identify your club leadership for July the first so that they can attend these leadership sessions but, you know, going back to - so let's just pick one particular goal that's near and dear to my heart: Membership. If those membership goals aren't in properly, I look really bad as a district governor. It's just amazing to take a look at some of those stats and see where they've been and where they're improving, so - yes, I'm always harping on everyone to get their homework done and to have everything completed for me. So, absolutely true.
NICK: And that's the key, is like, it's you know, it's important and you realize that it helps not just you, but it helps clubs and, you know, we've seen the success and so I think that that really is the goal. And so, Linda, when you're setting goals as a club - and even Mary in your experiences - like, how do you...how do you get that message across that, you know, this isn't just about plugging in numbers? This is actually something that can help you, like, what is the motivation behind that?
LINDA: Well I'll go first if you don't mind, Mary. For our club, we've had a strategic plan for quite a few years so, again, as the new guard comes in to take over the board - they're actually meeting now, starting in March to get ready for July first - they refresh and renew the strategic plan and then they decide, "ok what goals are we going to set to make sure that we stay on track with that strategic plan?" Because it's really easy for someone new to come in and take the whole club in a totally different direction when you don't anchor it to the strategic plan and then actually put on paper, what is it you're going to achieve and how is it you're going to achieve that.
NICK: Love it - any other thoughts there, Mary or Sophie?
SOPHIE: Uh just that, you know, one of the interesting things is we're talking about how it helps the district leadership to be able to see where a club's at overall, but it also helps the other way around where officers are editing goals and putting them in and creating that strategic vision for the club, and any member can access Rotary Club Central. Club members can really, you know, use their responsibility as members and go and check out the goals, feel like they're part of it, where they know where you're going. So, it really works both ways.
NICK: Yeah, I appreciate that. I mean, I think that's the other misconception - I guess, we're kinda busting some myths here. And another myth that we often hear is that, "well I'm not a club officer, I'm not involved," you know, "I'm not like, setting the goals," maybe or "editing the goals." But one thing that we always like to talk about is, you know, is this idea of accountability. That even though you're not a club officer you can still look at Rotary Club Central, you can still gauge how your club's doing, you can still help in that way. Have you guys, has anyone been able to kind of like, see non-club officers take advantage of the tool?
LINDA: In our club I think we have all but two members who are on My Rotary, and do go in and have a look. So, we think that they're a little more informed about what we're doing and where we're going and how we're getting there. The other thing is, if you're ever going to do a presentation like, maybe twice a year the president will just do a presentation of the board to say "here's where we're at, and here's where we thought we were going to be." There are some beautiful, little charts in there that are already done for you - you don't have to recreate the wheel, it's right there. And then, at the end, you just tell them, "You can go and look at this yourself!" So, I think it's great that way. And one of the things that I noticed this year, it was a COVID year, obviously, and not a lot of people could get out and do volunteering and fundraising - but we, actually, have already done more volunteer activities this year than we did last year.
NICK: And what a great way to, you know, keep track of all of it. And so, you know that, like you can already say...and I also love how you point out that Rotary Club Central is more than just a goal setting tool. But there's resources there, and there's links, and there's reports, and all different things that you can kind of access that are not just gonna help you set goals, but give presentations, have an idea of where your club is, and all that good stuff. But one of the main reasons we have Rotary Club Central, right, and everyone talks about this - cuz everyone wants it - is the Rotary Citation award. Sophie, can you explain a little bit about what the Citation award is and how a club can achieve it?
SOPHIE: Sure! So, this year the Rotary Citation is really a way to inspire clubs, they can attain it by choosing - there's 25 different goals that they can choose from, and they just need to choose 13 and meet those goals in order to achieve the Citation. And, it's so easy because everything is trackable in Rotary Club Central. So, as long as you're editing those goals, entering the goals, and updating when you do meet the goals, then you're making your club's journey to success very very easy for yourself. And that is all! [laughs]
NICK: [chuckling] That it is! [both laugh] And the beauty is - I think Linda mentioned this before - it used to be very complex and you used to have to go into Rotary Showcase and all these different places, and you had to upload different things. And as of last year, 2020-2021, we've kind of streamlined lined it and said, "Hey, there's 25 goals on Rotary Club Central. You've gotta achieve 13." Any of the 13, right? Not a specific 13. So, for Linda and Mary, when you guys are talking about Rotary Club Central, or just goal setting in general, like, how do you necessarily decide on the 13? Or, do you set all 25? Like, what's kinda your district and club's approach to that?
MARY: Maybe I'll take that, or I'll start that, Linda. So when we go back to our Club Leadership Training sessions, Linda does do a session the Citation, and we make it so that it's very personalized. Each club can decide on their own 13 goals, because every club has its own culture and its own capacity as far as meeting those goals. Some of the clubs are involved in Youth Exchange, some are not. Some have different focuses altogether, so we enable our clubs to be - to have their own level of success with the Citation based on which goals they choose. And, you know, I'd just like to go back and talk a moment for when I was a club president and when I was a club president, obtaining the Rotary Citation for our club was a really big goal that I set for myself, personally, as a club president. And, for me, it was just a great way to chart the course for the Rotary Year as club president, so I think it really helps club presidents as well to help them with organization of the Rotary Year and achieving these goals.
LINDA: Yeah, and for our club, it's really left up to the board and it depends on the president whether they include the whole club in deciding what the goals will be, or they leave it to the various Avenues of Services community or, you know, membership to decide where they think they can get the club to by the end of the year. So, for us, it really depends on who the president is, what our strategic focus is, and what the club focus is for that year.
NICK: Can I ask what you did this past year, Linda? Like, how did your club decide the goals? Do you know?
LINDA: Yeah, this past year the president and the membership, Foundation, community and...myself, I think...were the ones that set the goals. So, differently. Three years ago it was the whole club, two years ago it was the president on their own. So, it just depends on who it is.
NICK: Yeah, I think it's a really good point. And, I mean, it's like knowing your community, knowing your club, knowing how it's gonna work and, you know, if it's something that you think is gonna really bring the club together - do it as a whole. Like, we've heard of clubs that have taken a whole meeting, right? And their entire weekly or bi-weekly meeting is just figuring out which goals, and what they're gonna set. Other clubs, like you mention Linda, the board kinda decides it and, you know, everyone else kinda holds everyone accountable through the tool which is really cool. Of course, in an ideal world, everyone uses Rotary Club Central this way. Everyone pushes and, you know, motivates each other in this intrinsic way to kinda achieve these goals, but we understand that it's not always like that. And so, maybe this question is more for Mary. From your district perspective, district governor perspective, have, like, what do you do in those situations where there's just those clubs that, for whatever reason, don't wanna...don't wanna do, you know, put their goals or use Rotary Club Central?
MARY: Yes, there's always a few clubs that I'm not sure whether they're unaware of the resource, or a little nervous about the technology of entering into a platform where they're needing to make changes to what they see in front of them. So what we do, Nick, is we use our AGs quite a bit to help with the club presidents and club executives to help them feel more comfortable with using the tool, and even in some cases to sit alongside them and enter the goals for them as they're working through that platform. And, again, back to Linda and our Club Leadership Training opportunities, it's really important to show people the value in taking part in Rotary Club Central and putting these goals into their clubs so that they can help plan for their future and, I think, for a lot of people they don't understand until they actually get into it, and actually start getting some data in there, for them to see the value of this tool.
MARY: [overlapping] It's a bit of a process. [chuckles]
NICK: ...yeah, but I mean that's - I think that's fantastic. Having assistant governors come in and really help out. And I think, you know, similar to 12-13 months ago when most people were really afraid to use Zoom, or didn't know how to use Zoom, or use these online video platforms, and then we all kind of were forced to use it and we're like, "oh, this isn't that bad! I kind of like it. I can change my background," you know, "I can have my cat on the video," it's all really cool! And so, I think Rotary Club Central is similar: a lot of the online tools that My Rotary has can kind of seem a little bit...intimidating, at first. But then you get going, and you're like, "oh, this isn't that bad!" There is, however - and I feel like I would be remiss if we didn't talk about this - not everyone has access to editing the goals in Rotary Club Central, right? And so, Sophie, if you don't mind explaining - who in a club or district has that ability? Just to kind of clear that up.
SOPHIE: Sure, Nick. So, any club officer can edit goals. However, of course, these are club officers that are reported in our database. And so, my tip is to use My Rotary - you can go in there if you're a club officer - and check and see which officers we have reported in the system. Even if you use a third-party vendor, you can still use My Rotary as, like, a mirror image of our database. All club members can access Rotary Club Central, and see the goals that have been set. But as far as editing the goals themselves, that would be any reported club officer in the system. And, one of the interesting things is that, of course, for goals to be useful, you want to start setting them before you hit the ground running, right? And so, Rotary Club Central allows you to not only edit your year during that year as an officer, but also [in] the year before and the year after as long as you're reported in the system.
NICK: Yeah, I love how you can see the specific goals from the year before and year after as long as they're set. So really, like, the dashboard has a five-year vision for certain goals, but you can see all goals in a three-year span at all times, which is really great. So, thank you so much for joining us - I think this has been excellent! I just have one final question for all three of our fabulous panelists today, or guests, and that is: if there's a club that hasn't used Rotary Club Central in the past, and they're now thinking about starting, you know, after listening to this conversation they say, "Yeah, I wanna do that! I wanna get my club involved!" What would be your, like, number one recommendation to setting them up for success? And, anyone can jump in.
LINDA: I'll jump in! I'm gonna springboard off of Sophie's comments, the um...there are five officers that can input and edit this stuff: president, secretary, treasurer, membership chair, and Foundation chair. And we drill that into our clubs' heads at our, now, not called PETS and SETS. And, I think, the first thing I would say is: make sure you have those in, because otherwise you're going to be frustrated. Because you're going to go to the system and not be able to do anything. And then, secondly, I would say: pick at least two goals, one being membership, because you don't have to update it - it gets updated automatically - and maybe a Foundation goal, or something else that's an easy one for you to updated. And then, just test it out and add as you go. So I would say start small, get comfortable and, then, away you go.
MARY: Absolutely! I think you want to set yourself up for success. So, having those five people even together to start importing some of those goals would be helpful, so the five people are working on this collaboratively. And, like Linda said, just pick two goals. Membership is an easy one, because it calculates automatically, and then just pick one other goal that's a comfortable goal for your club to achieve. Give yourself some success, give yourself a pat on the back, and you'll have lots of ability to play around in the system and try new things as you go forward.
SOPHIE: I think those are great points, and I think that, really - I mean it promotes transparency doesn't it? When you have these goals all in Rotary Club Central, which really brings your club and, therefore, your district together. But I think that, ideally, Rotary Club Central can be a companion to the club's strategic plan and so, you know - as Linda was talking about earlier - just to really align that strategic plan with your goals that you're setting and how you're working toward succeeding, at meeting them, can really help.
[Outro Music begins]
NICK: Love it. Yeah, these are just great and fantastic words of advice for any club that's thinking about starting to use Rotary Club Central - or any club that maybe has been using it and hasn't seen the success that they really want from it. So, I wanna thank Linda, Sophie, and Mary so much for your time today. It's been fabulous talking with you, and thank you everyone for listening to the third episode of All Things Rotary: A CDS Podcast. As always, please like, subscribe, comment, review - all those good things - we would appreciate it! Share with your friends and your districts, and we'll see you next time!
NICK: Before we sign off, I’ve got one more thought about adding data to Rotary Club Central. You’ve hopefully heard by now that the number one initiative of Rotary is to eradicate polio. It’s been our signature project for over 30 years, and we’ve been able to track the global impact we’ve had in this fight. But what we don’t have is similar data for the hundreds of other projects that are going on around the world. Sure, we can get a glimpse from grant activities and other anecdotes – but does this really give us a true sense of the other ways we’re impacting the world?
By entering in service activities on Rotary Club Central, a club helps us tell our story and explore other possibilities. And, sure, you’re probably thinking, “that sounds great for Rotary. But what about us?” And that’s a great point.
So here’s where we encourage you to think about how you can leverage this data in your own community. For years, we’ve been telling clubs to share their story with local philanthropists – really tug at their heart strings. That’s still very important to do. Don’t stop. But think about how much more impactful that becomes when you back it with data. Will this help you secure a grant? Perhaps. Will it help you find partners? Possibly. At the very least, it’ll help your community get a better sense of who you are, and the value you bring to them.
Just a quick thought. Thanks, again, for listening and see you next month for a brand new episode of All Things Rotary: A CDS Podcast.