RULES, PROCESS AND FIRST QUESTIONS
(Effective October 2023)
Prospective, new and even established Active and Honorary Members have questions.
Here we try to answer the most common questions and provide empowering solutions.
Rotary World - 1.4 million members chartering 46,000 clubs toiling on community service projects in most countries over the last 118 years - is a big, diverse and ever-changing space filled with challenges and opportunities.
The first Rotary challenge is becoming an Active Member - a Rotarian.
The Rules and Process for Rotary membership is contained in our Club's Constitution and Bylaws and the decisions necessary to bring new Rotarians into the Club are made by our Board and Club members themselves.
Here, we will break it down in easy steps - so easy even a Rotary Club President can understand it.
Step One - Attend Some Meetings - Find A Sponsor
A prospective member needs to attend our breakfast meetings - the cornerstone of every Rotary club is THE weekly meeting - come to breakfast and learn what Rotary is doing locally and worldwide. Hopefully between attending a few meetings and talking with members and Club Officers, a prospective member can find a current member to sponsor a new member Nomination. This process should take less than four Club meetings over a month.
Show up, have a few free breakfasts on us, make some new friends, see what is going on and find a Sponsor.
Step Two - Sponsor Nominates to Membership Committee - Interview
The Sponsor needs to submit an Official Nomination to the Membership Committee. The Sponsor needs to collect and submit some basic historical and contact information for the Club to review. The Nomination also includes a short section to disclose any Conflicts of Interest. The Membership Committee will conduct an investigation and interview the Nominee. The Membership Committee shall inform Nominee of their financial and other responsibilities as a member of Rotary and shall sign a similar written agreement. Only after the Nominee agrees in writing shall the Membership Committee consider the Nomination complete and notify the Board and Club for final consideration.
Step Three - Nominee Denial, Approval & Club Acceptance
The Board shall only consider Nominations motioned by the Membership Chair. Nomination denials shall be sent to the Sponsor to inform the Nominee. The Board may or may not provide an explanation for any denial. The entire Club membership will be noticed of Board Nomination approvals. Any Active Member may file a written objection with the Board within seven days of notification for additional consideration of any Nomination - hearing no objection the Nominee moves forward with Induction.
Step Four - Rotarian Induction, On-boarding & Retention
Prior to Induction, the Nominee shall complete their New Member Information for the Club Secretary and Treasurer for Rotary purposes. After this information is submitted, a Rotary ID is created and after satisfying any Officer needs, the New Member may be Inducted at a Club ceremony. New Rotarians can expect to be given additional Rotary materials and the assignment of one of Club's Past Presidents as a "Rotary Buddy" to mentor and on-board the new Rotarian into a leading California non-profit organization. During this first year, the Club will find entry level tasks and projects for new Rotarians, in addition to providing access to our Rotary District and Rotary International resources and training.
Welcome to Rotary!
- Many happy challenges, interesting people, clever opportunities and vast resources await!
All prospective and current members are encouraged to review Club Constitution and Bylaws.
There is also a "The ABC's of Rotary" primer that outlines Rotary World.
More Important General Membership Questions
What does Annual Active Membership really cost?
Firstly, Rotary membership is composed of Active and Honorary members. Honorary members do not pay annual membership costs (The Club pays their $12 annual subscription to the Rotarian magazine) and are typically nominated to their status based upon a demonstrated history of community service or material Giving to The Rotary Foundation. Also, every Rotary club is different in terms of traditions, costs and flexibility. We feel Merced Sunrise is a healthy and proactive Club that encourages creativity, inclusion, volunteerism, networking and meaningful fellowship.
Annual Active membership costs can be divided into five general categories and are subject to change based upon the directives from Rotary International (RI), our supervising Rotary District 5220 Board of Directors and our specific Club Board of Directors. The Club offers other membership types (Corporate (large organizations), Family (couples can join for nearly the same price as one member), Vocational (work related membership) that reflect different costs, discounts and benefits to interested and qualifying persons. The following is a baseline annual estimate for one person. RI, District and Club costs are subject to change.
RI, District & Club Dues. Each Active Member, even those under a Leave of Absence, must pay $180 each year for their share of RI ($84), District ($60) and Club ($36) dues. Going forward, these Dues may mirror the suggested annual Giving set by our supervising Rotary District 5220. These Dues are paid to the Club. Members on approved Leave of Absence are financially responsible for their dues, fines, Giving and ticket sales at all times.
Meals. Most members now annually pay $380 for their meals. This amount covers breakfast for themselves only when the Club meets and various social events. Dues and Meals are typically added together into a single $560 annual invoice. Some members choose to divide this cost into four quarterly $150 payments for $600 wherein the extra $40 is considered an administrative fee. Extra meals for family and other guests may be charged $12 per person to members for each meal or social event. Additionally, Active Members may request a Meal Exception from the Club President, that they only be charged for the meals they consume. This Exception is based upon certain members' dietary needs and charged the same $12 and not the $380 annual fee as above. Honorary Members pay $12 when they and guests attend breakfast, etc. Members receiving the Meal Exception pay $200 in annual dues, wherein the extra $20 is considered an administrative fee.
"Fines." The Club levies an informal (and humorous) "fine" against members each meeting for notable life or public events - birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, graduations, photos in newspapers, etc. (See "ring the bell" below.) These fines support Club specific operations - Rotary trainings, travel, etc. Members are expected to be minimally "fined" $100 each year. The Club will account and invoice any unpaid fines. Many members simply request their fine be included in their annual or quarterly invoice for simplicity. Fines are also due and payable by Leave of Absence members as assessed by the Club President and must be settled at the end of each year. Dues, Meals and Fines are tracked by the Club Treasurer.
Giving. All members are expected to donate at least $100 annually to RI's principal charity - The Rotary Foundation (TRF) or through the RI website. This can include small automatic monthly payments or single donations. Many members routinely contribute over $1,000 annually. $10,000 is considered a Major Donor, of which the Club has many. The Club Foundation Chair tracks this progress and assists members.
Shrimp Feed. The Shrimp Feed is the Club's traditional Annual Fundraiser. In addition to volunteering, Active Members shall provide either a small gift or a $50 donation for a raffle. Additionally, New Active Members are financially responsible for selling five tickets their first year with the Club and 15 tickets thereafter. The current face-value of each ticket is $50. Members very rarely need to purchase their own tickets since demand is so great. That said, it is still a real financial obligation to take seriously - sell your tickets!
Using the above estimates, minimal annual cost of Active Membership is $810 with the regular meals. Those taking the quarterly payment plan will pay an additional $40 for $850 over the year. Those members taking the Meal Exception route will pay $450 all-in and then $12 per meal and person. The central take-away is that the Club has the flexibility to accommodate member needs and that the financial costs to enter the Club are rarely a barrier.
Leave of Absence.
From time to time Active Members need to take a Leave. Since Rotary is a service organization it is important that all members understand their presence at weekly breakfasts, regional Rotary events and service projects is the foundation of any healthy club - it matters when you are missing. Club bylaws allows for members to request a six month Leave of Absence. Up until the Board approves this Leave the Active Member is responsible for all their financial and service obligations. Members on approved Leave of Absence will be placed on the Meal Exception list with their Dues changing to $200 per annum and paying the $12 meal rate as needed. Meals already paid shall not be refunded. Members on approved Leave of Absence are financially responsible for their dues, fines, Giving and ticket sales at all times. Leave only exempts an active member from attendance. Honorary members do not need to ask for a Leave of Absence.
What is a Paul Harris Society Fellow (PHS)?
Paul Harris, an Illinois attorney, founded the club that became the humanitarian organization Rotary International in 1905. A member is recognized as a Paul Harris Society (PHS) Fellow with a special gold pin and related notation in Rotary records when they donate $1,000 to Rotary International. Each additional $1,000 in Giving is equally recognized as PHS+1, +2, +3, etc. Each increase is also recognized with a new unique pin. The Club is generally recognized as a 100% Paul Harris Society Club - meaning all members are recognized as PHS Fellows due to the Club's historical Giving. The Club typically uses its resources to make all new members PHS Fellows with the expectation that each new member will follow suit with material Giving. The Club's Foundation Chair assists members in these matters.
I am interested in serving on the Board for Merced Sunrise Rotary.
As a member of Merced Sunrise Rotary, we encourage all members to get involved. Contact the current Club President to find out what the needs of the Board are. The formal Board is composed of the following roles and responsibilities;
Immediate Past President
Merced Field of Honor
Club Presidents first proceed through the Vice President and President-Elect roles and then are appointed as the Immediate Past President - each as a one year appointment. Other Officer roles are two year appointments, with other roles being one year commitments. More information is available in the Club Bylaws posted on this website.
When members are fined, what does it mean when they choose to “ring the bell”?
Choosing to “ring the bell” is a $50 contribution towards each member’s $100.00 annual contribution towards club operations.
What are Sunrise Rotary’s Major Fundraisers?
The major fundraisers in which ALL Sunrise Rotary members are expected to volunteer are the Shrimp Feed (March) and the Merced Field of Honor (November). Members are welcome to volunteer to be a part of each events planning committee.
What is the Marble Game?
The marble game is held at the weekly meeting with the proceeds raised going to Club operations. Tickets are $1 each or six tickets for $5. Each marble has a meaning. Clear = $1, Black = $10, Green = Jackpot (amount varies).
Can I bring my spouse or a family member to a weekly meeting for breakfast?
Yes. Family members are always welcome to attend a membership meeting. Members will be invoiced later with no cash or credit payment accepted at the time of breakfast. The Club Secretary and Treasurer monitor meals and charge accordingly. Members are urged to settle accounts each month.
How can I make up a missed meeting?
Members can attend other area Rotary meetings (i.e. Merced, Atwater, etc.) or Club meetings (i.e. Board meeting, committee meeting, etc.) and either convey the attendance to the Club Secretary or login to DACdb and enter the attendance makeup.
Rotary Websites - What is DACdb?
DACdb ("District And Club database") is a mandatory website for Rotary members to input their contact information, view Rotary info on all clubs, communicate, register for events and training, etc. One can access a Sunrise Rotary membership directory as well as other club directories. Once an individual becomes a member, they should login to DACdb to upload a head-shot photo and complete their contact information. This is important because electronic communication with members is done through DACdb. (www.dacdb.com)
What is P-mail?
P-mail is the e-mail system that is available through DACdb. Club notices may be e-mailed out to Sunrise Rotary members via P-mail (depends on President/Secretary) which uses the e-mail listed in each members DACdb profile. It is important to maintain an updated profile for proper contact.
Rotary Website - Rotary International.
Rotary International, also known as "RI" is the headquarters for all 33,000 Rotary clubs operating globally. All members should create a profile with RI at https://my.rotary.org/en. Here membership can do many things; subscribe to the electronic edition of the Rotarian magazine, search for any one of the 1.2 million Rotarians organized globally, make a tax deductible donation and track your Giving, enter important information about the Club's activities and learn more about the Rotary Zone and District, and access critical tools and media resources to enhance the Club.
How can I make a contribution to the Rotary Foundation?
Members can create an account and log in to www.my.rotary.org. Visit the “Give” section of the website to choose the causes to donate towards. Members can also view their donor history on this site. Each member is expected to contribute a minimum amount of $100 per year. The contribution can be given in one payment or through monthly payments that are automatically withdrawn.
Where can I buy Rotary “swag”?
Rotary branded items - shirts, jackets, pins, hats, awards, etc can be purchased from The Russell Hampton Company (www.russellhampton.com). There are other vendors as well. The Club maintains an account with Russell Hampton and purchases many Club items from there.
Other Rotary websites
How can I get involved in the planning of the annual Shrimp Feed - held in March?
All members are encouraged to be a part of the shrimp feed planning. Contact the Shrimp Feed chairperson (President-Elect) to get involved.
Do I have to sell tickets and make any other contribution to the Shrimp Feed?
Yes. Each Sunrise Rotary member has a commitment to sell tickets. New members should sell 5 tickets and all other members will be asked to sell a minimum of 15 tickets. Plus contribute a minimum of $50.00 or an item that is valued at $50 or more towards the raffle. All members shall fully volunteer for this principal annual fundraiser.
How do I decorate my table for the Shrimp Feed?
Every member is assigned a "table" based on the number of tickets they sell. Some members sell nearly 100 tickets and have many connected tables, other new members their first five and have one table. The Club provides basic table items such as tablecloths, plates, napkins, etc, wherein each "Table Captain/Member" has an opportunity to uniquely dress-up their table for the big event. Table decorating is a friendly competition each year when typically our District Governor judges the best decorated table in the Club. Some members have been known to post large candelabras, St. Patrick's, sports teams, and cowboy themed tables. Flowers and place-settings can also complement simple snacks brought for guests. While not mandatory, members do find the process creates a personal and inviting space and a good conversation starter with new guests and visitors.
Where do members get their aprons for the Shrimp Feed?
Rotarians wear aprons with their names and the Rotary logo on them at the Shrimp Feed. They are ordered prior to the shrimp feed. Members will receive order forms beforehand from the shrimp feed chairperson (President-Elect).
What is a Table Captain?
The purpose of the Table Captain is to assist the Club in providing a “quality experience” at the Shrimp Feed. By acting as a host/hostess for our guests, we make them feel welcome, and they will want to return the following year.
The Table Captains are usually a spouse, significant other, family member or friend over the age of 21. The reason for this is that they will be able to bring the wine to the table(s).
Merced Field of Honor (MFOH) - How to Get Involved?
Like the annual Shrimp Feed, all members are expected to volunteer for MFOH. The events starts with planning in July after the Club President appoints one or more Chairpersons. These Chairs then select and organize members and other volunteers for the November event. This event lasts a week to 10 days. Contact the appointed Chair or Club President to learn what roles are needed. The event grows and changes each year.
What kind of “job” will I have while volunteering at the Merced Field of Honor?
MFOH operates for approximately two weeks (depending on where Veteran’s Day falls in the calendar). You are asked to participate in the initial set-up and final tear-down. Historically, the Field posts more than 1400 American flags in addition to other displays. Other volunteer activities include; hosting Opening and Closing Ceremonies, other special speaker and night-time events, fundraising, meal-preparation, volunteer organizing, equipment set-up, selling and preparing flags for display, running flags or escorting visitors onto and off the Field. Each member should prepare to work six hours on different shifts on at least two days physically at the Field during the event in addition to other efforts.
More Questions? - Just ask another member. So much of Rotary is about learning by doing. Service clubs in general are volunteer organizations - members change, leaders change, technology changes, as does our patrons and their needs each year. Contact us for more information, and if you are interested in Rotary the best advice is to just invite yourself to our weekly breakfast meeting - it's that simple.