Posted by Diana Nestorova on Mar 26, 2020
COVID-19 has definitely brought the word perspective to the forefront for us all. Across Rotary's global network of Clubs and its members, COVID-19 has placed us all in unprecedented territory. Far from life as normal, far from business as normal. Members and leaders at all levels of our organization are faced with decisions they never believed they would encounter, and they are asking for guidance on how to deal with this global pandemic relative to Rotary.
We are all being asked to be socially responsible. That shouldn't be a heavy lift for us. We have been socially responsible as an organization for more than 115 years.
Let's spend some time thinking of the opportunities, not just the challenges. Can these canceled events, fundraisers and meetings become future service projects when the time is right? How can technology (Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, and other platforms) help us to stay connected during this time, and how can that knowledge help us to grow Rotary going forward? How can we find ways to support the most vulnerable populations affected by this pandemic?
Here are some suggestions on how to keep your club members connected - and to be Rotary active:
  1. Hold virtual online club, board and committee meetings to help keep club members connected with each other, and to fight off the harmful effects of social isolation. The district will be using Zoom, but there are other options available (see below).
  2. There are several ways for your club to get Zoom:
  • Zoom: Free for 40 minutes with a group, or unlimited time on a one-on-one basis. You can also buy a more robust version from Zoom, but there are also discounts available (see below).
  • Rotary Global Rewards: Products and services at a discounted rates for Rotarians. Right now: Zoom with a 20% discounted rate.
  • Tech Soup: If your club has a non-profit component (such as a foundation), you could get  Zoom Pro - along with many other software products and programs - for a discounted rate.
  1. Some members of your club may have Zoom Pro for their professional business accounts. You could also check out FreeConferenceCall, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and others.
  2. At the beginning of each online club and board meeting, post a PowerPoint slide of online-meeting tips for using the online video-conferencing tool. To download a suggested videoconferencing welcome slide, in PowerPoint format, click here. (With Zoom, a PowerPoint-format image will fill the screen, unlike a JPEG-format image.)
Here are some recommendations for using video-conferencing tools:
  1. Let participants know there is a phone call-in option in case someone's camera goes out during the meeting.
  2. Before your club’s first Zoom meeting, train people in how to use both the video conferencing and the call-in options and post those instructions before each meeting as a reminder.
  3. This sort of training and instruction may not be enough to help those who are technically challenged. So, have two or three club members who are good at using Zoom, and conduct one-on-one instruction sessions before the first meeting. Practicing in advance really helps make your meetings successful.
  1. Zone 34’s Coordinating Team has put together a Coronavirus Response Guide for maintaining member engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. As a District, as Clubs, and as Rotarians, we will get through this. Together! For the latest information from the Evanston, IL headquarters of Rotary International, click here.
How your Rotary club can help now:
  1. Treat all club meetings as "Million Dollar Meals." During online meetings, club members will donate their meal fee for the purchase of gift cards, to be given to people in need – especially, elderly and/or disabled people - for use at locally owned restaurants for home delivery of meals, and also for use at locally owned (if available) supermarkets. This action also establishes funding for some of the other COVID-19 Action Ideas.
  2. Partner with local elder-service organizations, Boys & Girls clubs, YMCAs and YWCAs to buy gift certificates from locally owned restaurants and locally owned (if available) supermarkets for home delivery of meals to people in need - especially, elderly and/or disabled people.
  3. Ask younger (under 60) club members to do grocery shopping and delivery for high-risk people. This may be coordinated with an elder-services organization, or your club may find people in your community. Typically, the high-risk person will leave a shopping list and a payment check outside the front door, which the club member will retrieve. The club member will leave the purchased items outside the front door, which the high-risk person will retrieve.
  4. Include actions that over-60 club members can take, such as regularly calling people in the area who live alone, to check in on them.
  5. Call your local Emergency Response Teams to see whether they need help, on either a virtual or a limited-physical basis, to serve people who are homebound and lacking social-services support for meals, medicines and other critical needs.
  6. Call your local First Responders (emergency medical technicians, firefighters, paramedics, and police officers), to see whether they need help.
  7. Ask club members either (if under 60) to volunteer at, or (any age) to donate to local food banks and pantries. Check first with the food banks and pantries to see whether they need volunteer help, donations, or both.
  8. Once the COVID-19 emergency is over, conduct a "Hoarders Remorse Drive" seeking donations of excess non-perishable food items as well as toiletries to give to people in need - especially the elderly.
  9. Post your club’s COVID-19 Action Ideas on both the clubs' and District's Facebook pages, and pin the post at the top of each page (so it doesn't get pushed down by subsequent posts).
Do you have other COVID-19 Action Ideas? Please share them with us, and we’ll update and post the list of ideas on the District’s website and Facebook page. Please send your ideas to Sue Peghiny, district public image chair, at, and Steve Jones-D’Agostino, district webmaster, at
Stay healthy and well – and, as always, in service above self!
For more information, contact District Governor-Elect Diana Nestorova at