How Rotary Compares to Other Service Organizations

Rotary is different from most other service organizations in two important ways.

First, Rotary is for business leaders, or people who might be interested in becoming business leaders. We meet weekly to discuss issues relating to businesses in the community. Few other service organizations cater to the needs or concerns of businesses. Some of the talks we hear are rather exclusive to our members, telling for instance a juicy inside story that the newspapers for some reason did not publish. These are things businesspersons want to know.  Though not everything we talk about is exciting, it is not that uncommon during lunch to hear of someone telling a story about someone who is famous.

Second, we often use the instrument of money instead of our own manpower. Most other service organizations achieve their goals by directly letting members go out on the street, so to speak, to donate their time to make a difference. We have some opportunities that allow that, but our true power is in funding the better proposals pitched to us, playing the part of the dragons, deciding which pitches will get funded. We help using our money instead of donating our labor, which is perhaps more costly, since some of us are executives. That is perhaps the biggest difference between us and other service organizations. The nice thing is that we get to pick exactly who gets and who doesn’t get our money, all based upon their pitches. Everyone has an opportunity to critique those pitches, so we usually can agree about the selection process.

These two distinguishing features set Rotary apart from almost all other service organisations.  But if neither of those matters to you, there are hundreds of other service organisations serving people with all sorts of interests, most of which will be less expensive.  If you prefer helping the world directly, with your own sweat, or if you prefer doing it with non-businesspersons, or if you are on a tight budget, Rotary might not be ideal for you.