New Technology Brings Meetings to Broader Audience Worldwide
The Rotary Club of Stone Mountain (RCSM), a member club of Rotary International, has relaunched itself as the first “hybrid” club in the global organization’s history. Starting in February, the Stone Mountain club now broadcasts its weekly meetings live on the Internet, available to anyone in the world, member or not, to “attend” the meeting virtually. The club is the first one to merge the model of a traditional brick-and-mortar club with that of an e-club, where members interact through an Internet connection.
“We are excited about this newest innovation in club membership, and are proud that it was created and launched by a club in our own district,” said Raymond Ray, governor of district 6900 in Rotary International. “We hope that this technology will be adapted by other clubs worldwide, making the Rotary organization accessible to more members.”
Like many civic organizations, Rotary has seen declining membership numbers over the past few years. Busy working professionals and retired travelers often had difficulty meeting the stringent attendance requirements of a Rotary membership. E-clubs began to arise to meet the needs of members who wanted to commit to a club but couldn’t always make a regular weekly meeting in a physical location. These online clubs took advantage of technology to connect with one another via online meetings and networking sites, or could listen to a pre-recorded meeting at their convenience. The e-clubs would also schedule in-person socials and community projects which provided members a change to meet and work together face-to-face. But e-clubs were still considered distinctly different from those clubs with a physical presence, primarily in the designation as “e-club.”
The Rotary Council on Legislation in 2016 enacted legislation that removed the distinction between traditional clubs and e-clubs. It recognized that clubs have been meeting in a number of ways: regular clubs were having digital meetings and e-clubs were holding in-person meetings. The distinction between the two types of clubs was no longer meaningful; clubs formally known as “e-clubs’ now no longer had to use that nomenclature.
The Stone Mountain club quickly realized that this enactment offered an opportunity to address the challenges of an aging membership while appealing to the needs of a younger, more connected population. By becoming a hybrid club, Stone Mountain could offer the best of both worlds to members and potential candidates. The club’s physical presence still offers plenty of opportunities for social interaction and community projects; the online presence allows live interaction with weekly meetings as well as the chance to watch the event on-demand.
The first streamed meeting in February had two people attend online. The number has steadily increased since then, with the latest meetings seeing six to eight people attend online.
“Some of our senior members were skeptical at first, with concerns about losing the benefits of fellowship provided by a weekly in-person meeting,” said Margie Kersey, Rotary Club of Stone Mountain’s current president. “We are still winning them over, but I’ve noticed many of them stopping by the laptop to check to see who is there. Many are realizing that this change will increase our membership and attract more people to attend our meetings in person.”
All RCSM memberships are equal; there is only one dues price to be a member of the RCSM whether you plan to attend in person or via web. For those who attend a meeting in person, food is billed quarterly only for the meals you consume. (The quarterly bill also includes any assessments, such as Paul Harris Fellowships, project support, etc.)
The club was able to set up live-streaming for under $400 (USD). Easy to use equipment and software solutions included:
- Logitech 930e camera (under $100 and plug and play)
- Collapsible tripod for the camera
- Blue Yeti microphone (under $150 and plug and play)
- Dell laptop with Windows 10 (under $150)
- 2 USB extension cables (good for positioning)
- Go to Meeting software subscription ($30 / month for 50 participants; other plans available)
- Internet connection (most meeting locations should have Internet accessibility)
All are welcome to view the weekly meeting via webcast every Tuesday from noon until 1.30 p.m. ET. Viewerscan join the meeting from a computer, tablet or smartphone by logging ontohttps://global.gotomeeting.com/join/386992461 If dialing in from a phone, dial 571.317.3122. (Add the international dialing code for the United States 011 at the front if outside the United States.) In all cases, the Access Code: 386-992-461.
As a complement to the live streaming, the club simultaneously launched a YouTube channel, which archives its meeting videos for others to view, particularly useful for Rotarians looking for a more convenient way to fulfill meeting make-up requirements.
“We believe this is the future of Rotary,” said Ray. “It provides the ultimate flexibility for members while retaining the traditions and spirit of the Rotary Club.”
About Rotary Club of Stone Mountain
Celebrating its 52th year of service, the Rotary Club of Stone Mountain is one of 34,000 member clubs of Rotary International. The Stone Mountain club raises and disburses funds for charitable, educational and medical research purposes. Monies are raised through social events and service projects organized by the club and donations offered to the club through members and supporters. Some of the many organizations and projects supported by the club include the DeKalb County Elementary Schools (donated dictionaries to 3rd grade students); Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC); Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse; Georgia Piedmont Technical College (student scholarships); The Salvation Army (Angel Tree, Holiday Kettle Bell); Stone Mountain Food Bank; Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust (CART); and VFW Operation Santa.
The Rotary Club of Stone Mountain meets every Tuesday for lunch at noon at Smoke Rise Country Club, 4900 Chedworth Drive, Smoke Rise, Georgia. Guests are always welcome. To learn more about the club and its upcoming programs, go to stonemountainrotary.org. Follow RCSM on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
About Rotary International
Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and around the globe. The 1.2 million Rotarians who hail from Rotary clubs in nearly every country in the world share a dedication to the ideal of Service above Self. Rotary clubs are open to people of all cultures and ethnicities and are not affiliated with any political or religious organizations. Learn more at rotary.org.