Rotary Clubs stress the benefits and importance of volunteerism, both within one's own community and internationally. Rotarians, as members are called, pay dues to their club and hold fundraisers to support volunteer efforts and sponsorships. Rotary started in Chicago in 1905 as a professional club among like-minded men. Today, there are Rotary branches in more than 200 countries, with 1.2 million members and counting as of October 2011, according to Rotary International.
The Importance of Volunteerism
At the heart of Rotary Club is a commitment to volunteerism. For both the volunteer and the community he serves, the experience can be transforming. Take the general topic of the importance of volunteerism and personalize it. For example, follow a person helped by your volunteerism, perhaps a child in need of a mentor, who grew to accomplish great things. Don't discount an achievement like graduating high school with honors or finishing college -- these seemingly everyday acts can transform someone's life. Remember to include statistics to back up your assertions. For instance, a teen in XYZ neighbor is three times more likely to be unemployed, imprisoned or live in poverty without a degree. Put a human face to the importance of volunteer efforts.
The Hidden Need in Your Community
Even the most affluent community likely has neighbors in the same town or nearby who are struggling. Gather statistics from local government offices that show, for example, the number of children who go hungry in your community or the percentage of seniors who forgo basic care needs. Focus your speech on the Rotary Club's responsibility to act as neighbors and assist the most vulnerable in the community. Talk about the silent struggles of the vulnerable populations in your community and include ideas you have for working through Rotary to address those needs.
Recognizing Hidden Talents
Rotary Clubs follow a four-item list that reminds members why the club exists. Among those items, members give "recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations" and affirm that jobs are a way to serve society. In your speech to the Rotary Club, remind members to find their talents and apply them to Rotary work. Every profession can help in some way. A massage therapist, for example, can offer five-minute massages at community events to raise money. An entrepreneur can network with fellow business owners to advertise Rotary events in their stores. In your speech, ask Rotarians to think of the three things they do best at work and how that could help their community service efforts.
Tips for Speakers
Many Rotary Clubs hear from speakers at most, if not all, of their meetings. Seek to be an engaging, memorable speaker. Don't stare at your notes or read directly from a paper. Unless you need to quote a specific fact, try speaking from the heart instead. Practice the main points of your speech and make an outline, but don't get too bogged down in delivering every line perfectly. Use supplemental aids, like a PowerPoint, video or photos, to enhance your talk. For example, show pictures of your volunteer trip as you speak about it. Don't let the media overwhelm your message, however. Also ask your Rotary contact about the subject of recent speeches. Don't speak on the same themes unless you find a way to add a new dimension to keep your material fresh.