How inclusive is your digital media?

I recently wrote a blog for Rotary Voices on the concept of conscious inclusion and how we can make our meeting venues and service opportunities more inclusive and welcoming of people with different needs and backgrounds.

A female smiling Rotarian with brown hair, wearing glasses and a safety vest, carrying a Rotary logo sign
Rotarian Kate McKenzie welcoming guests at Sydney airport for 2014 Rotary Convention

Similar principles apply to our digital media assets such as our websites and social media presence. On the one hand, digital devices can be a great source of empowerment for people with disabilities affecting hearing or speech. Screen readers help people with vision impairment. People who are not able to type can use dictation tools. As video becomes more popular, however, barriers are emerging again. Simple practices such as adding visually descriptive captions for images (Alt Text) and including transcriptions of audio content can combat this. This requires a little more effort, but as technology keeps improving, websites have inbuilt prompts to include Alt Text and automated transcription tools are becoming cheaper and easier to use. A little human oversight is important to avoid errors, however.

Making our websites and social media a safe and welcoming place for minority communities can help us to attract new members and deliver better projects. A no tolerance policy towards racial, religious or gender-based harassment is essential. Actively engaging online with groups that may be underrepresented in our local Rotary clubs not only connects us with our local communities it also links us with the wider world of Rotary. Acknowledging holidays celebrated by diverse communities is a start. We can also follow blogs and pages that represent different voices to learn and engage.

Considering the needs of vulnerable people when we communicate is also good practice. Sometimes we need to talk about issues in society that may be a trigger for persons who have suffered trauma, so approaching such topics sensitively and avoiding graphic languages or images is important. One tip is to include a local helpline when discussing issues such as suicide, violence, sexual assault and disasters.

As someone who uses digital media daily, I haven’t got this right yet. I’d like to learn more and improve my practice so that I can be more inclusive of my community. If you have some tips, please share them.


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Web Accessibility Toolkit

Online Hate Prevention Institute

By Kate McKenzie

LinkedIN Director Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowships

Let’s Use our Social Media to Defeat Polio Fatigue!

Recently I was chatting on Facebook with a friend who is a very committed Rotarian, and the topic of polio eradication came up.  I was a little taken aback when my friend told me that he had polio eradication fatigue, due to the seemingly incessant calls for donations.

That got me thinking.   The campaign against polio reached a crunch point during the horrible polio epidemics in the developed world of the 1950s, when fear of the disease drove people from public places. The breakthrough came when Salk produced his lifesaving vaccine. That vaccine and the later oral version developed by Sabin eventually made polio history in the First World.  Parents could breathe easier.

A child in a wheelchair with 4 adult men

Parents in the western world can breathe easier.

Polio was still rampant in the Third World in 1987, with 35,685 cases reported by 168 countries. As a consequence of this ongoing tragedy, Rotary International declared war on polio as part of a global campaign to eradicate the crippling disease.   Steady progress was made over the years, but as with similar eradication campaigns, the last 1% is the hard part.  We seem to have been saying “this close” about our efforts to eradicate polio for ages.

That can be very frustrating.

There have been recent exhilarating successes. The declaration that India was wild polio-free in 2013 gladdened the hearts of all who have contributed to the campaign.

Just when we thought we were getting there, so came the recent reverses. Civil war, poverty and social unrest have created opportunities for polio spot fires to ignite in Syria, Somalia and other places.  These serve as a constant reminder that the main line of defence is a fully protected populace. That requires caring people on the ground delivering vaccine to vulnerable children, often in remote locations and where vaccination teams are sometimes at high personal risk.

Fundraising is key to the ongoing battle with polio.  Two fundraisers that really seem to have captured the collective imagination are:

  • Paul Wilson and the Rotary Club of Grantham built their Swimarathon into an annual global success story that supports swimming events globally.  The Swimarathon has raised nearly $1m for polio eradication since 2012.
  • Past District Governor Mukesh Malhotra and PP Susanne Rea developed the World’s Greatest Meal into an innovative and winning concept. Since WGM kicked off, more than 654 WGM events have seen 23,400 meals served, raising  more than $338,000 .

Globe surrounded by 13 happy faces

Why do these fundraising campaigns work so well?   Social Media!

Paul and Mukesh know their social media stuff and the results are there for all to see. Success!

These fundraisers and many others have raised millions for polio eradication.  Rotarians have also been in action at the sharp end of the eradication program, too, traveling vast distances to personally  deliver lifesaving droplets of vaccine straight to the mouths of at-risk kids.

The 26 years since the Rotary polio eradication campaign started has seen huge progress made.  We’re down to the last, most frustrating  bit and yes, the glamour wore off ages ago. But that’s why we’re Rotarians – we take on the tough jobs.

And as Bill Gates said: “As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, all children — wherever they live — remain at risk. The stakes are that high.”

Let’s finish the job.

How to set up a Live Broadcast with YouTube and Google Hangouts

Process for setting up the Live Hangout with CountDown Clock

* It is important to note that you must have a verified YouTube account and “turn on” live broadcasts.  YouTube will seek to verify the account holder either through text message or email.

  • Sign Into YouTube, and go to your channel
  • Click On Video Manager which is right above your channel art
  • Click the Video Manager Button on the left
  • Select Live Events from the drop down
  • New Live Event from the far right
  • Enter all the fields and select a date for the ever in the future
  • Be Sure to Select the type as Google Hangout on Air
  • Once you save the event, you’re all good! Count Down Starts!

Why Social Media – the Bigger Picture

During the Zone 28-29 Institute, I asked many participants to upload a photo to Facebook and tag it with #Rotary hashtag. The purpose of a “hashtag” is to create a tractable connection of all related posts ~ it’s similar to a Google keyword search. If you click on #Rotary in Facebook (or twitter and several other social networks) you will see all the posts in your network that relate to Rotary.

That’s all very well and good, but let’s think about why.  Why do people like me go around teaching clubs and districts about Social Media? Why has Rotary International invested so much time in helping members to use Social Media?

I like to think of it like this…

When your club goes out into the community to do a project, it has a little impact. When you look at all the clubs in your district and their projects collectively, you can see the larger impact your district has in the community. Add in all the districts across the globe, and you can see the massive impact club projects have in our global community. Social Media is the same way. When you upload a photo to a social network, it creates a little awareness. When hundreds of us do it at the same time, it creates a larger awareness. Imagine millions of people sharing Rotary on the Social Networks! Now you are looking at a massive amount of awareness.

Each one of us shared a single Rotary experience during our week at Zone. In the days ahead, the experiences they will have in Rotary will differ from mine. From meetings, to projects and fundraisers, to community outreach, those Rotary experiences will be as diverse as our population. Sharing all of those experiences will help the people in your network understand Rotary. When thousands of us share our diverse experiences in Rotary, we create an over all picture of what life is like as a Rotarian. The goal is to have those experiences not only seen, but better understood, creating curiosity in others and eventually attracting new members.

We don’t always have a concise answer to “What is Rotary?” By utilizing the social networks, you give your connections a visual, simplified answer by defining what Rotary is to you. ~

Past District Governor Melissa Ward

Stay Connected to Melissa

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest Instagram

Chair Rotarians on Social Networks
Zone 29 Assistant Public Image Coordinator

Images that showcase your club

Social media is very visual these days, with Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all tweaking their layouts to give a more visually rich experience, coupled with the rise of image-focused sites such as Instagram and Pinterest, to name a few. Selecting good, quality images to post on these channels can be a powerful way to share your club’s or your own Rotary story effectively.

Real photos of your club, its members and the activities you undertake can be one of your most effective ways to “sell” Rotary if handled well. Showcase your members and their achievements, so that other people who see the photos think, “Wow, that looks fun / meaningful / interesting. How can I take part next time?”

What makes a good photo?

To make an impact, you need to carefully curate your photos – don’t upload anything and everything!

Some aspects to keep in mind include:

  • Does it look professional? Is it in focus and is the lighting good? Has anything that has been added, such as text or logos, look professional or amateurish? Don’t be afraid to pose a photo for greater impact.
  • Is it eye catching? Is there a specific focal point? Is it bright and interesting? Can you adjust the colours and sharpen it in a photo editor, such as Photoshop or GIMP, and have you cropped out anything unnecessary?
  • Does it tell a story? Is there something interesting going on? Does it stand out from other photos?
  • How do the people look? Are they happy? Do they look bored? Is it a flattering photo of the people involved – and do you have their permission to post photos of them publicly?

Ensure that any fliers of upcoming events are professional as well. Access to a capable graphic artist is a must – if you don’t have one in your club (there’s a great classification to fill!), can you access one through your extended network in your club or district? An eye-catching flier with all the details required (including a web address or QR code for more details / to buy tickets) is the best way to help others easily spread the word about your event.

Make good use of the image description text!

A good image should call attention to your post; what action a user takes next depends on what text you have accompanying your image.

  • Is it free of jargon and acronyms, such that someone outside of Rotary can understand what is written?
  • Are people, places and relevant organisations tagged, to expand the reach of your post?
  • Is there a link they can follow to find out more and perform an action (buy tickets / sign up / donate / express interest in participating or joining)?
  • Are useful, relevant hashtags used?

The accompanying text and links should enable anyone seeing the image outside of the context of the original place it was uploaded – for example if it is “shared” on Facebook – to be able to understand the who / what / why / when / where of your message.

Examples: Events

My club runs “Paint your Pinkie” days at local primary schools to raise awareness of and funds for polio eradication. Your typical photos of such an event might involve the Rotarians attending lining up and having a photo taken with the school principal / teachers and possibly some students (how many smiles are there likely to be?), or possibly an action shot of fingernails being painted purple, where the main thing you can see are the backs of people’s heads. Here’s a couple of colourful photos that are much more eye catching:

Rotary does involve a lot of dinners, so some photos of the more “traditional” Rotary activities is to be expected… but again, think about what you wish to convey with such photos. Is everyone happy, having a good time? What mix of ages and nationalities are there? What was fun or different?

Examples: Members

Members are the lifeblood of your club, and each member has an interesting story to tell: why they joined Rotary, what they love about Rotary and what they do outside of Rotary. Showcase your (happy!!) members individually with their stories, and capture your new members joining Rotary – if you are regularly inducting new members, your club must be worth joining, right? Endeavour to break the stereotypes of Rotary: showcase young members, female members, members doing something other than sitting at a table or by a lectern or cooking sausages.

Examples: Projects

Photos handing over a cheque or rattling tins to raise money are not very exciting. What hands-on projects have you participated in? What have any funds raised been used for? Tell a story showing any tangible outcomes of projects, to help strike a chord with others who may want to help too.

What can you showcase?

There is so much you can highlight about your club and your personal participation in Rotary. What photos do you share?

Using Social Media to Boost your Fundraising Efforts

Social media has matured substantially over the past 14 years, with most users now accepting, and being more likely to trust, social networking as an effective way to communicate. This has led to it becoming easier to use social media to assist with fundraising efforts, both for well planned projects as well as more immediate needs such as disaster relief.

Rapid Response Disaster Relief

In January 2011, we had terrible flooding which affected most of the state of Queensland in Australia. Rotaractors tweeted and used their Facebook statuses to spread news that District 9830 in the state of Tasmania was getting donations made through them matched dollar for dollar through the local state government, up to a maximum of $250,000.

I saw the news on Facebook and helped spread that news through my own accounts, including my business Twitter accounts, and through the Rotary Facebook pages that I administer.

I announced it at my club meeting on Wednesday that week, two days later, along with news that Shelterbox already had personnel on the ground assessing needs; I had seen that news on Facebook as I follow the Shelterbox Australia page. At a district function on the Friday evening, I heard a fellow club member repeat the information to a Rotarian in another club, who asked how I had heard the news so quickly. It took my district a month to decide how to respond to the disaster and communicate that to the clubs; in the mean time, many of us had donated funds through the district in Tasmania.

District 9830 raised AUS$911,000, which is double the combined total raised by three other service clubs in Tasmania. That speaks volumes about the benefit of using social media to rapidly spread the word about how to help at a time when people are eager to help out and are looking for how best to help. The money was used to build a replacement community centre at Murphys Creek in the Lockyer Valley.

Photo courtesy Rotary District 9830

Fundraising Events

Another fundraising success story is the Rotary Global Swimarathon, coordinated by the Rotary Club of Grantham, UK. Contacts made by reaching out to clubs via Facebook and Twitter and regular promotion and updates saw 5,244 swimmers from 104 clubs in 23 countries setting a new world record for the highest number of simultaneous swimmers at on 23 February 2012, raising over US$100,000 for polio eradication in the process.

Again, they used multiple channels: Rotarian Paul Wilson from the Grantham club made heavy use of his personal profile to reach out to Rotarians and clubs on a personal level. He also used his club’s Facebook page, a dedicated Facebook page for the Swimarathon, a twitter account, a website, and a blog, to provide regular updates and communications with stakeholders. It has now become an annual event, with more and more clubs coming on board every year. In 2013, participation rose to 6103 swimmers from 186 clubs in 36 countries, with a total of US$111,081 raised, and this year a total of $116,700 was raised from 210 clubs.

Photo courtesy Balasubramaniam Sokalimgam

But it’s not all about you…

As easy as it is to reach out via social media, it is important to strike a balance between getting your message out to as many people as possible and spamming them with too many updates or filling their newsfeed with your stuff. People will tune you out if you are in their face with what you want to blurt out rather than taking time to build engaging relationships within your channels first.

If you would like assistance with using social media to boost your fundraising activities, we’re here to help – with ideas, or practical support on how to build up relationships with key stakeholders and make effective use of various channels available.

How have you used social media for fundraising?

Taking ROSNF from Sydney to São Paulo: How Can We Replicate the Magic?

Two ROSNF members with our pull-up banner at the ROSNF Sydney Convention booth
Having fun at the ROSNF booth!

ROSNF is growing rapidly, with more than 2000 members, a booming Facebook page and a real buzz happening in our community. It’s all looking good!

At least some of this success comes off the back of a very successful Sydney Convention, where our booth was alive with member interactions and our social media breakout was particularly well attended. As ROSNF Chair and Convention Director for 2013-14, I experienced the thrill of a very active participation in our Sydney Convention presence. It was a great experience. With three Board directors and many members joining in, the fun was infectious over five exciting days.

Realistically though, we had every reason to succeed in Sydney. The Board of ROSNF includes four Australian directors and we have an engaged local membership, so our capacity to field a strong team in Sydney Convention was only to be expected. We were in our own back yard.

Contrast that with 12 months earlier in Lisbon, where we only had a small team available to work on our booth and there were no local Board directors. Despite the terrific efforts of our volunteers, we simply did not have the numbers to keep our booth operating and as a result it was unattended for lengthy periods. Not a good look and one which drew criticism from members.

Now look forward to São Paulo. In an eerie similarity, Convention will again be held in a Portuguese-speaking country where ROSNF has no local Board members.

We will face decision time soon, as the time draws near for us to decide whether to reserve a booth at Convention ’15. To have another successful ROSNF presence, we will need ROSNF leaders and sufficient helpers committed to work on our booth. We cannot in good conscience expect a few stalwarts to forego the other great experiences at Convention just to staff our stall. That’s simply not fair.

The things that have worked in the past and could work again in preparing for Convention ’15 are:

  • Recruit more local ROSNF members to our Board group. That approach can work. By way of example, Sydney-based Kate McKenzie joined our Board less than 12 months before Convention ’14 and made a brilliant contribution to ROSNF and at Convention.
  • Encourage all our members to promote our proposed ROSNF presence at Sao Paulo. Ask them to help identify people who plan attend Convention ’15 and might be prepared to help out.
  • Equip our convention team with a new banner and all the consumables they’ll need to do the job.
  • Hold our AGM on day 1 of Convention, so that we can help promote our presence, recruit more volunteers and build enthusiasm again.

If we’re all really committed to a great ROSNF presence at Convention ’15, we do need to start planning and organising now. Can you help?

Kero O’Shea
Membership Director & Social Networking Adviser District 9465
& Past ROSNF Chair 2013-14

The Power of LinkedIn – Why We Should Recommend High Achievers in Rotary

Our Rotary new year has just begun and we’re in the thick of changeover season.  That’s when the Family of Rotary celebrates the past year, welcomes new leadership to office and recognizes the fine efforts of those who’ve gone the extra yard in the past Rotary year.

Our recognition of Rotary achievers is made on the basis of some extraordinary performance by the recipients.  Many of the presentations have been shared on social media, newsletters, websites and elsewhere.   Whilst the images of these presentations tell part of the story, what is often lacking is an explanation of what the recognition is for. The inclusion of a meaningful citation is essential to convey the true meaning of an award. Often that can be achieved within a couple of sentences, but for a major award, more detail is appropriate if others are to understand the relevance of the contribution.

We should also consider the broader opportunities associated with the recognition of fine performance by our members.   Rotary is an organisation of professionals and community leaders, many of whom are in the process of developing or redeveloping careers.  A lot of those members share their abilities and aspirations via social media, with LinkedIn being a very popular option.

LinkedIn provides the opportunity to recommend the skills and abilities of others. One can quickly endorse a listed skill, or provide a brief recommendation.   It’s this opportunity to provide a recommendation that we should use to share the achievements of our members more widely.

By providing a recommendation to a professional member, we achieve two things:

  • By recommending our Rotary achievers publicly, we define the recipient as a skilled and motivated person who gives back to our community.
  • We also help define our Rotary as an organisation that provides opportunities for community service and to develop relevant skills and connections.  A real win-win!

I’ve provided a several recommendations on LinkedIn, most recently for the four Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship Board members to whom I awarded presidential citations in June 2014.

By providing these recommendations, we strengthen the connections within our own great Rotary network.  That’s really important in a time-poor society where people often have to prioritize the causes they want to commit to.    Think member retention!

Kero O’Shea
Membership Director Rotary District 9465
& Past Chair 2013-14
Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship