The “stick and carrot” approach to change

Although I believe District Governors have an obligation to improve a club’s communication strategies, especially as it applies to their websites, by monitoring and analyzing them in preparation for the annual visit and review, Districts have other means by which they can encourage and assist clubs to build better websites and make better use the management components of a ClubRunner site.

Supervision is the “stick” approach; in this essay, I will suggest ideas using the “carrot” approach.

  1. Create an Awards System 

Given the number of Districts that have an annual award for the best Rotary Club Newsletter, it is surprising that more districts have not created something similar for Club websites.

Rather than just creating one “best” award I would recommend Districts create a multiplicity of awards such as

              a) best home page layout

              b) best-written news story of the year

              c) best original use of video

              d) best use of a consistent format 

              e) publisher of the most club based news stories of the year

              f) the largest increase in unique views in the past 12 months

Clubs would indicate in which categories they were competing. The DG would create an evaluation team, perhaps the same committee as promotes Rotary Image, Communications, or Social media.

Rather than have the winners announced at the annual District convention banquet, I would suggest that the website awards become the focus of one of the lunches and if accompanied by a speaker that the topic be Communications or one of its many facets.

2. Sponsor the training and redesign of one or two club websites per year 

This is a “carrot” I found in one district. They had put aside funds to accomplish this endeavor. I could not, however, determine if this was a one-off event of the particular District Governor or a multi-year endeavor, a part of the District's long-term strategic plan.

Clubs had to apply a rationale as to why they should be funded and demonstrate a commitment to maintaining the site once it was recreated. 

Such an endeavor on the part of the District leadership provides a clear message to other clubs that the District is serious about the issue of improving what clubs are doing with their website.

3. Ensure that the District “Communications” Newsletter or DG’s Monthly Newsletter has an article on Websites in each issue

I think a DG should give the above kind of direction to the committee or editor of a District Communications newsletter. If such a newsletter does not exist I would suggest that the District Governor’s monthly newsletter would be a good place to include such an article. 

The more a DG brings the issue of websites to the fore the more clubs will take their website seriously.

4. District Sponsored Training Sessions

Districts should sponsor training sessions throughout each Rotary year. With the advent of Zoom, this could be done at a low cost even in districts that cover a huge geographic area.  

When a DG discovers a particularly good club website they might encourage its designer to make a presentation on why they choose the design they did and what the process was that they used. On the other hand, they may hire a consultant such as one of those in the ClubRunner Community  Marketplace. 

5. Create a specific objective to break the isolation felt by Club Website Editors

Isolation among website editors is one of the most serious barriers faced by a system dependent on volunteerism as Rotary clubs overwhelming are and for which the ClubRunner Platform is specifically designed.   Two ways this can be accomplished are

              a) Publish a list of all Club Website Editors 

              DG’s need to ensure that each club identifies a website editor, as I call them, among the positions they track in the email lists and/or positions posted publicly so if one editor wants to contact another they would know each other or know where to find the person.  

              b) Encourage all District club Website Editors to Join the forum. 

 The forum is still growing and is young in terms of the number of years it has been in existence compared to the years ClubRunner has been in existence. As a result, there is great potential in growing the size of the group. 


District’s Need to Adequately  Budget for “Carrot” Activity

It should go without saying that little of the above can occur if the District does not set aside adequate funds to pay for awards, incentives, and training. 

Few Districts have needed in the past to set aside a significant sum of money for communications. Rotary can no longer afford not to improve its communication strategy. There has never been as much competition for the public’s attention. Rotary is just one of many entities trying to be heard.

Websites are the foundation of any club's communication strategy. Other social media portals are supports and distribution systems for information originally posted to the website. Hence, websites are the first place Clubs should begin to improve their chances of being heard among the cacophony of today’s World.