Posted on May 02, 2020
These are certainly interesting times we live in. None of us could have foreseen these extraordinary circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. Rotary clubs everywhere are wrestling with the question, How do we stay connected and maintain membership engagement during the pandemic? Well, this is Rotary and I am sure that these challenges will bring out our considerable strengths – ingenuity, decisiveness, flexibility, and integrity. Here are some ideas  as a guide to assist clubs in their efforts to stay connected and maintain membership engagement during these difficult times. The suggestions are not exhaustive, and many clubs will surely come up with new ideas as their ingenuity and adaptability finds new and innovative ways to maintain our fellowship. But we wanted to offer this guide to all clubs as they explore online meetings and other adaptive solutions.

Corona Response Guide

Way back in March 2020, the Rotary Coordinator team in Zone 34 (Georgia, Florida, USA and Caribbean) put together a guide which provides clubs with a plethora or information, suggestions and ideas on how best to deal with the ever-evolving states of our lives, communities and clubs under the influence of the COVID-19 crisis. View or download the guide here.

Embracing Virtual Meetings For Your Club

For many of us, our Rotary family is an important part of our lives. These friendships connect us to our communities and the world and provide avenues of soul-enriching service.
These uncertain times caused by the coronavirus pandemic challenge us to be innovative and adaptable. In District 6440 (Illinois), all clubs canceled in-person meetings, following the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the need for social distancing. But that did not mean that they had to give up on regular fellowship opportunities. Several clubs had already starting meeting virtually using Zoom.
To make it easier for more of our clubs to meet online, District 6440 underwrote the first-year cost of a Zoom Pro license (applying the 20 percent off through Rotary Global Rewards) for their clubs. They also held two "Introduction to Zoom" sessions to help members became familiar with the online meeting platform. They also encouraged every club to create a Virtual Meeting Coordinator – someone with good technical skills, who can be enthused about virtual meetings and have a desire to help members of the club become proficient at it. To catalyze this practice, clubs were eventually required to appoint this position to take advantage of the District's offer to underwrite a Zoom account.
The Virtual Meeting Coordinator will serve these functions:
  • Establish their club’s Zoom Pro account
  • Coordinate Zoom training for their club
  • Coordinate scheduling their Zoom license for use by club committees and other needs
  • Serve as the club meeting technical host to manage aspects like connectivity and screen sharing
  • Interface with the district’s Virtual Meeting Team to learn about best practices and receive advance training
Finally, optional Zoom meetings for presidents and presidents-elect were held to give them an opportunity to ask questions, seek advice, and share action plans.
View a one-minute video on how to join a Zoom meeting.

Ideas For Staying Connected During Social Distancing

During this time of physical separation and social distancing, it is more important than ever to keep our social connections. Rotarians join Rotary to do good in their community. They stay because of the connections they make. Our relationships are important, and we need to strengthen the ones we have and to build new ones. What might this look like in our changed world?
For starters, we can help Rotary stay strong, and even prosper, by working together and taking care of each other – just what Rotary members always do. All of us have had our normal routines disrupted. And when people take a break from these routines for an extended period, they sometimes find other things to fill the gap. That is why it’s vitally important that we keep our members connected and engaged in new ways.
With our creativity and innovation, we can even reach out to new people who are looking for something to get them through these strange times. People in our communities are seeking purpose, and an opportunity to contribute. We have resources to help them do that.
Here are some ideas:
  • Communicate with members through email, social media, virtual meeting tools
  • Make it a two-way conversation by encouraging “user generated content” to your web and social media platforms
  • Convert your meetings to virtual ones. Speak with your members and even other clubs to get advice and ideas on keeping these meeting captivating
  • Keep a schedule of dynamic speakers, by adding them to your virtual meetings
  • Hold district-wide meetings virtually
  • Create a challenge that members can take part in, either a project, competition, or activity, which can be done from their homes
  • Share ideas for projects that you can collaborate on together remotely
  • Set up a phone tree of members to keep in contact
  • Create a club buddy system to pair up members and make sure that vulnerable members are supported
  • Inject some fun items into your newsletters and bulletins to lighten the mood and keep people’s minds off the gravity of these times
  • Update your club website with a new tab for information on how people can get involved with your club online or virtually. You could also create a tab for listing volunteer opportunities
  • Keep members engaged through Rotary online learning tools such as the Learning Center. You can take part in learning modules and webinars as a group through platforms like Zoom.
  • Review and revise your club’s strategic plan
  • Work together with community partners to identify the most pressing needs. Engage with other community organizations like Meals on Wheels.
  • Rotary’s disaster response grants provide a fast and effective way to respond to local events. The Rotary Foundation recently added COVID-19 projects to its list of eligible activities for these grants
  • Volunteer to run errands for those in need, in keeping with whatever restriction your local and regional authorities have in place for staying safe.

Let E-clubs Help You Get Online

During the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, club president Brent Leerdam and members of the E-Club of the Caribbean, provided immediate support to the family of Rotary clubs across District 7020. The club offered to setup meeting times for other clubs using the club’s Zoom account until these clubs could make online arrangements for themselves. The goal was to make sure clubs lost no time maintaining their routine of weekly fellowship meeting. A second goal was to empower clubs to immediately create action plans to support their community, all within a safe online environment.
Encouraged by District 7020’s Governor, Delma Maduro, the e-club produced a short video explaining the advantages of meeting online during the Coronavirus outbreak. The video was followed up by an invitation to all clubs in the district to attend a virtual meeting that explained the key components of holding interesting and successful meetings online. The e-club continues to offer support, advice, and guidance, and has extended a district-wide invitation to online guest speaker events.
The E-Club of the Caribbean has been using Zoom for the past 7 years and has considerable experience with the platform. With the generous 20 percent discount offered to Rotary by Zoom, this online meeting platform is proving to be a lifeline for many.
Many districts around the world have an e-club. Reach out to these clubs for help getting online quickly. They already have practice and experience mastering these tools. Groups of clubs can share an online account, and assistant governors can help connect clubs to each other and get them online fast.
People of Action take the lead during times of change. We are leading the way by being leaders in our communities. Let your e-club show you the way as we find new and innovative ways to connect the world and open opportunities.

Check out the COVID-19 page on for more information and resources for taking a leadership role in your community and reaching out to new and potential members during this pandemic. Keep up with what Rotary is doing on Facebook and Twitter at #RotaryResponds.