Posted by Jim Henry, PDG D6960
Is your Rotary club making an impact in your community?  Whether your answer is yes or no, the impact your club is, or is not making, is probably having the same impact on membership.
 
When it comes to making an impact, is it really beneficial to all concerned to try to be beneficial to all concerned?  A huge mistake many clubs make is that they spread their resources over wide areas.  This is partly because club leaders want to be fair to as many local causes as possible and to all members as possible by supporting their pet causes. This conundrum weakens clubs’ abilities to make greater impacts and often causes problems within the club. 
 
 
Clubs will have the greatest impact on their community if they can start or change something that will, in itself, cause further changes - be the snowball that creates an avalanche.  Rotary International's Polio Eradication project is a wonderful example.  Two Rotarians, both doctors, with a grant from The Rotary Foundation, impacted their community by eliminating polio, creating an avalanche that evolved into Rotary International's worldwide effort to eliminate polio.  The Rotary club of Elyria, Ohio created an avalanche when it helped Daddy Allen start a hospital for crippled children which evolved into the Ohio Crippled Children's Society then to Easter Seals. 
 
The art is for clubs to search their communities and find areas where they can cause a tipping point like Philippine Rotarians and Daddy Allen did.  They had no idea they were creating an avalanche.  They only wanted to make impacts in their community.  It takes vision, effort, practice, and experience to find a local cause that may that create local change.  They exist and are waiting to be discovered.
 
Without a doubt, clubs should not try to be all things to all people - be they beneficiaries or members.  If they do, they will lose out on opportunities to make greater, longer lasting impacts, and that impacts membership.