Program University

Program University

Training Program for Rotary Club Program Chairs & Their Committees & An Ongoing Sharing of Best Practices for Great Rotary Programs

by David Endicott, Rotary District 5030, Seattle & Surrounding Areas*

April 19, 2008 ~ Several months ago, DGE Jesse asked me to develop my idea of having a kind of “program for programs” as a training session for club program chairs. When I discussed it a few weeks ago with DGN Nancy, she agreed and hoped it can be extended into her year.

It starts with the realization that Rotary does very little to prepare incoming program chairs to do their jobs of booking speakers for their clubs (what many consider the glue that holds clubs together week-in and week-out). When you look at any Rotary website, including RI’s, and try to find something about “programs,” you quickly realize that in Rotary-speak, “programs” means activities or on-the-ground service projects. In the past, there have been some lists of speakers sent around from time to time in District 5030. And I’ve distributed my own lists of speakers, including the topics I’ve heard them speak about and their direct contact information. And I’ve held a couple of break-out sessions at District Assemblies to talk with program committee members about this. But little has been done in any organized fashion to help program chairs and program committees do their jobs better.

The idea behind Rotary District 5030’s “Rotary Program University” is to help program chairs/committees understand what Rotary programs should be about: service to the club; service to club members; service to the broader community in which the club is located; and a powerful membership development and club PR tool. Rotary Program University will examine speaker selection; topic selection; pre-meeting speaker orientation, i.e., don’t ask for contributions, etc.; speaker evaluation; best practices; what your options are in event of a last-minute speaker cancellation (EVERY program chair I talk with LOVES this topic); decision-making in program committees and who REALLY makes the final decision; the relative values of being speaker-driven and being topic-driven; leadership succession in club program committees; varying ways to organize program responsibility (one year-long chair vs. month-by-month program chairs and other variations); utilizing programs to foster better/broader/deeper discussion in the local community about important community topics; inviting non-Rotarian local community leaders in to hear specific speakers/topics in which they may be interested; cataloguing programs for future use; and other ideas.

I am assembling Rotary Program University for larger clubs, and Ken Noreen, Shoreline Breakfast Rotary, on behalf of smaller clubs. Other Program Chairs have expressed interest, too. In our opinion, EVERY Rotary District should be doing this. And, to the best of my knowledge, none are. I believe that Jesse and Nancy intend that we can develop the model here in 5030 that can then be shared with other Rotary Districts.

Learn More about Rotary Program University.

David Endicott served two consecutive Presidents (Nancy Lucks and Bill Center) as Program Chair of the Rotary Club of Seattle. He has been Vice Chair for Programs three previous years and has served on the Program Committee for 11 of his 12 years in Seattle Rotary.