The short answer: An e-club is “a Rotary Club that meets electronically.”
Why? “This will allow Rotarians with physical disabilities or [scheduling] restraints to meet regularly and conduct service projects through the Internet,” said RI Director Antonio Hallage as he presented the proposal to the Council.
A separate amendment at the 2010 Council on Legislation (approved by a vote of 311 to 197) allows for two e-clubs per district. E-club members have the same responsibilities as other Rotarians to conduct service projects and promote The Rotary Foundation.
Some e-clubs will meet solely through online forums, while others will combine electronic with in-person meetings. Each e-club makes that determination for itself. Important to remember, however, is that e-club members have all the same responsibilities as other Rotarians to conduct service projects and promote the Rotary Foundation.
At the time of the vote by the Council on Legislation, the average age of an e-club member was 47. Thus, supporters of the enactment believe that the e-clubs are an effective way to recruit younger Rotarians. “If our organization is to grow globally, we must embrace new ways to invite young members,” said Lucinda General, the representative from District 5510 (Arizona, USA).
Fourteen of the pilot e-clubs boasted 360 members in 30 countries and geographical areas, and 586 service projects. The pilot e-clubs conducted meetings in Chinese, English, Finnish, Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish. Collectively, they contributed almost US$150,000 to the Rotary Foundation.
Some representatives expressed concern that e-clubs would introduce unintended side effects if they were made permanent. “As the number of e-clubs increases, there may be a situation in which there is division between the e-clubs and the ordinary clubs. I don’t think that this is something we would want,” said Chohei Hashimoto, of District 2650 (Japan).
Others noted that too many questions remained unanswered about e-clubs. “Which PETS [presidents-elect training seminar] does the president of the e-club attend, assuming he or she is not physically in the district? How does the district governor do his/her official visit?” asked Chris Offer, the representative from District 5040 (British Columbia, Canada). “Do we have to develop specific online training for one club in the district? There are probably more questions than answers today.”
Douglas W. Vincent, of District 7080 (Ontario, Canada), said e-clubs presented an opportunity too valuable not to embrace. “This is not taking anything away from Rotary; it’s adding to Rotary.”
For more information about the Rotary E-Club of New England, visit our FAQ page.