Executive Overview: The first Rotary-Peace Corps Week concluded on September 26, 2021 and was deemed a success by the organizers and PFP’s partners. Partnering for Peace’s mission is to build awareness, education and outreach with all of its constituencies for the benefit of the Rotary-Peace Corps Partnership. The Week simply gave a focused deadline to continue that mission, before, during and after the events.
The Week events and focus included:
-Two promotional videos – one by John Hewko, CEO of Rotary, and one by Carol Spahn, Acting Director of Peace Corps, which went out to all District Governors and known International Service Chairs at large Rotary clubs suggesting that the video be played at all U.S. Rotary clubs.
Three Webinars went live during the week, including Videos of Acting Director Carol Spahn and Rotary General Secretary and CEO John Hewko that were shown at Rotary meetings as well as live during the week with 164 initial zoom registrations. They continue to receive potential from over 40,000 media outlets, primarily cable and internet media outlets, as well as Global Connections Television. Two additional webinars were well attended, highlighting Peace Corps as an opportunity for Rotarians, and examples of joint projects.
- Peace Corps sent out direction to over 60 PC countries and encouraged country offices and foreign Rotary clubs to meet to find ways to work together. Social Media counts were just under 50,000 impressions.
- The Rotarian Magazine September issue’s featured story was an article on the partnership. It has a distribution of over 390,056 Rotarians and friends of Rotary.
- RPCVs across the U.S., to date, have documented between 75 and 100 programs completed.
- Approximately 180 NPCA Affiliate Groups were contacted about The Week and joint activities they may want to consider.
- Special communications went out to the most active Rotary clubs in the U.S. that do international projects, as well as special communications in the Rotary Service Blog that was translated into multiple languages for awareness of the partnership and the WEEK.
- Membership at PFP increased by 130% from 54 active members in October 2020 to 125 active members in October 2021. Its database of interested parties grew by 191 emails to 462 currently.
The work now continues as we set goals to engage new and existing members in 2022.
Background: Andy Lenec brought the concept of a Rotary/Peace Corps Week (The Week) to the Partnering for Peace (PFP) board of directors in late 2020 and the board voted to approve the project. A committee was created and both board members and PFP members were asked to help in a variety of ways from outreach to communications to making presentations and other ways to explain the partnership to all constituencies within Rotary, Peace Corps (PC), and RPCV groups. Being a first-time activity, it was difficult to develop metrics that would demonstrate success. The following report quantifies the results of The Week and can be the baseline to measure future Rotary-Peace Corps Weeks.
The major calls to action included this list:
How to Participate in a GRASSROOTS INITIATIVE
● Invite a speaker. Rotary/Rotaract clubs and districts can have a speaker from the Peace Corps community at a dedicated club meeting during the week:
○ Contact the Peace Corps office in your country, or a local Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) to join your meeting as a speaker.
○ Rotary/Rotaract clubs and districts can also invite agencies and local nonprofits who have hosted PCVs
○ Have any club member who has worked with a PCV involved in the presentation
○ Have sponsored Rotaract and Interact Clubs participate in these events
○ Contact the Peace Corps Speakers Bureau
● Participate in a service project. Clubs and districts can participate in joint Service Projects or have a joint Happy Hour or host a joint pot-luck dinner with members of the Peace Corps community in your area.
● Attend a session during the week-long event. Clubs and districts can watch and participate in one of the webinars to be held that week, including the opening webinar with Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko, and Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn on Monday 20 September 2021, or the closing webinar on 9/24/21 featuring successful partnership projects.
● Create a standing partnership committee. Set up a standing partnership committee for your district, to include representatives from grants and international service committees, to explore opportunities for leveraging efforts and promoting international projects.
● Support an RPCV project on the NPCA Community site.
● Join PFP. Your clubs and districts can nominate a liaison to be a member of PFP
● Honor RPCVs and PCVs at an upcoming meeting. District Governors can host returned PCVs, current PCVs, and outgoing PCVs at an upcoming meeting or District Conference.
Outreach: A major goal for The Week was letting more Rotarians, RPCVs, PC staff, and (before the pandemic kept PCVs from returning to their posts) PCVs know about the formal partnership between Rotary and PC. Outreach was measured by programs about the partnership at Rotary club meetings, RPCV group meetings, calls, substantial discussions with local, District and International leaders, and discussions in conjunction with Rotary, District and International meetings, such as the Virtual International Convention House of Friendship.
Programs at Rotary meetings as reported by PFP’s board members, general members, PC recruiters, and other friends of PFP: There were between 75 and 100 programs made by PFP board members and general PFP members at Rotary clubs, Rotaract meetings, and other Rotary presentations. We were unable to quantify the presentations to RPCV group but we know that announcements were made at a number of RPCV group meetings and at NPCA Group Leaders meetings, to NPCA and PC staff at headquarters and in countries,, and at NPCA webinars and conference calls; and at other meetings organized by PC, Rotary and various peace organizations. Board member Mark Zober contacted a large number of DGs and a few personal contacts with African PC/CD plus thousands of Rotarians via Face Book.com on the Save the Date, as did other members. In addition, the Peace Corps Speakers Bureau was highlighted. Although there were only about 16 speaker requests, the stage is set for Rotary clubs to reach out as they need a speaker.
At District levels, 47 clubs in NC, 55 clubs in Denver area received calls to action, just as an example. . As chair of the District 6710 ISC, Bill Miller made the announcement several times and recruited an RPCV to be the liaison to pursue an RI-PC connections and working relationship with RPCVs in Kentucky. These are just anecdotal of the outreach that occurred. Other Districts reached out to RPCV clubs and their Board of Directors, held joint social hours and community service projects, and had presentations at Rotary clubs and RPCV clubs. California has a large amount of presentations.
Recognizing that RPCVs are an important constituency of PFP, especially during the pandemic, we reached out to all NPCA Affiliate Groups for awareness building. Although the success is anecdotal, it appears many Districts had RPCVs reach out to Rotary clubs to inquire, offer or ask for assistance on country of service projects. Also, PFP advertised the Community Project page of NPCA, if Rotary clubs were interested in supporting a RPCV project. Although there were only a very few projects listed, we hope connections between RPCV groups and Rotary clubs will grow into more joint service projects in the future.
An added benefit from The Week and the renewal of the Partnership MOU was that communications about the Partnership and the MOU went out from John Hewko, CEO of Rotary and Acting Director Carol Spahn to every Rotary District and every PC office around the world. Rotary social media content leading up to the week was delivered across Peace Corps channels (or in ad terms, served) 49,890 times.
Committee meetings: There were about 15 – 20 committee or subcommittee meetings; numerous conference calls; other substantive meetings with Rotary such as with Peter Kyle, senior PC staff, and NPCA staff.
There was a presence in-person or virtually at District meetings: PFP helped at the RI Virtual Convention’s House of Friendship and talked to approximately 50 Rotarians and friends through the virtual House of Friendship (HOF went on for four days).
Communications: To expand the awareness of the partnership, The Week, and PFP, a communications plan was developed to help with effectively getting messages out to key constituencies and other allies. Some of the major achievements were:
An effective communications strategy and plan: The plan included a timetable, action items, examples, and many meetings of the PFP Communications Committee.
A feature article about the partnership, The Week, and PFP in the September issue of the Rotarian magazine: readership of the magazine and article estimated to be over 390,056. The Rotarian staff also report that the magazine layout is generally well received by readers, a large majority (80%) have taken an action as a result of reading The Rotarian, with many saving an issue for future reference (44%), and bringing up an article at a club meeting (37%).
Two promotional videos – one by John Hewko, CEO of Rotary, and one by Carol Spahn, Acting Director of Peace Corps, went out to all District Governors and known International Service Chairs At large Rotary clubs suggesting that the video be played at all U.S. Rotary clubs.
Three webinars took place during The Week. The first was on Monday, September 20th which featured John Hewko and Carol Spahn which was pre-recorded with the help of Bill Miller and Global Connections Television, but featured live talks by Kim Dixon, Victor Barnes, Director of Programs and Grants for RI and RPCV/Zaire; and Kate Raftery, Special Advisor to the PC Director and RPCV and former overseas staff person. The number of people registered for the webinar was 164 and 120 people attended via Zoom. Subsequent viewing of the recording was possible through the PFP website. Bill Miller said that potentially over 40,000 media outlets, primarily cable and internet media outlets could replay the interview.
The second webinar was on Wednesday, September 22nd and it was organized by the PC recruiting staff. The webinar featured three RPCVs who had varied Rotary backgrounds: Cal Mann, PFP board member was a long-time Rotarian from California, who took time out of his career to serve in North Macedonia; Amanda Silva is an active Rotaractor from D.C. who served in Indonesia; and Vana Prewitt is an active Rotarian in Florida, who served in St. Lucia and Liberia. The number of people registered for the webinar was 140 and 74 attended and 35 people wanted more information about the partnership, PC or Rotary.
The third webinar was organized by PFP on Friday, September 24th and it featured three successful partnership projects and activities that could serve as models for other Rotary clubs and RPCVs/PCVs to do together. One project was how the Highlands Ranch Rotary Club in Colorado worked with the Give-a-Book Project to help PCVs in Costa Rica to create and staff libraries. Carl Dickerson, former PFP board member, and Joan Nelson, RPCV from Costa Rica, talked about how Rotarians and the PC office and PCVs worked together. An added benefit was how working together the first International Baccalaureate Program in Costa Rica was created. The next project featured PFP volunteer Shannon Carter, who is currently a Rotary Peace Fellow, and Ukrainian Rotaractor Yuliia Andreieva describing how PC and Rotary clubs in Ukraine worked together to start up RYLA and how it continued in spite of the pandemic. The last activity that was featured was how the Rotary Club of Denver Lodo created a Satellite Group which was comprised of all RPCVs and how that added members and projects to the club’s portfolio. The number of people registered was 100 and about 75 people attended.
Social media through PFP, Rotary and PC was also developed which helped to advertise events, meetings, projects, etc. Peace Corps reported that The Week, the partnership or PFP was delivered 49,890 times across PC’s various social media.
The MOU from Rotary International, https://my.rotary.org/en/rotary-international-and-peace-corps-renew-partnership was translated into multiple languages. The MOU announcement from the Peace Corps received significantly more engagement in general than their general posts.
The Rotary Service Blog was utilized twice to post information about the goals of the week and the webinar series. In August and September and garners about The blog gets anywhere from 12,000-20,000 views monthly.
The August monthly Services Newsletter included a section on the WEEK. It has a distribution list of approximately 40,000 recipients.
Two targeted messages were distributed, one to the District Governors, District Membership Chairs, District Community Service Chairs, and District International Service Chairs. A second email went specifically to the club presidents of 10-15 highly active clubs . The Communications committee also acted as the creative hub for The Week and about 5 flyers were developed, about 10 news releases, about 10 newsletter inserts and other messages were created.
Membership: PFP needs members as they are the boots on the ground to help expand the partnership. Because of The Week, PFP increased its membership by 130% from 54 active members in October 2020 to 125 active members in October 2021. Its database of interested parties grew by 191 emails to 462 currently. While PFP doesn’t implement projects itself and it therefore doesn’t raise funds for its own projects. PFP’s mission is to encourage projects between Rotary clubs, Rotarians, RPCV groups, PC country offices and PCVs (before and after the pandemic). Because of the far-reaching activities and awareness generated, a large increase in membership and potential membership can give the partnership a big boost in activity. The challenge for PFP will be engaging these new members and managing their involvement in support of PFP’s strategic plan and goals. There is a plan in place to reach out to each new member, as well more directly engage more existing members to connect to a 2022 goal or committee.
Recommendations for next year’s event
From Ingrid Schwab, our Rotary liaison “A suggestion for the future would be to include translations so as to be more inclusive globally. “I would suggest translating communications and webpages ahead of time, and then for live events, perhaps work on some way to add translated captions to the recordings. For the time being, perhaps Spanish and French would be enough to consider adding.
More District level personal outreach for newsletters, conferences, etc.
We need our project plan and associated communication plan created in January next year. This will help all our constituencies, especially PC, RI and NPCA support us and we support them.
Ted Adams, our Peace Corps liaison, shared that the content created and lead time really helped them get the word out. Next year we hope to get the Posts involved more actively. He suggested our “ask” or “call to action” at the end of the big event could have been sharper. The video of the two leaders was well received although it was tricky to have the videos and live webinar together. Next year we don’t necessarily plan on this format. We hope to work more closely with other activities from Peace Corps, Rotary and NPCA next year to share our outreach and social media for the benefit of all.
Finally, a date needs to be picked for The Week in 2022. Because March 1st and early March is already busy with Peace Corps anniversary events. NPCA is asking us to coordinate with them around the Peace Corps Connect Conference and so they asked us to steer away from the third week of September. September 20 – 26 was the recommendation this year from Rotary so Rotary Peace Day could be part of the week. We haven’t discussed a date with Rotary or Peace Corps yet, but one recommendation is to schedule around Rotary’s and Peace Corps’ schedules and then try to coordinate with NPCA. Rotary’s Peace Day is always on September 21st.
In conclusion, the Board and volunteers felt that the week crystallised the need for awareness and outreach, and that it is a slow relationship building process. The new members and interest on RPCVs and Rotarians part encouraged an even greater expansion of all our programs next year. And with PCVs back in the field, the global PC sites and Rotary clubs worldwide can play an even bigger role. We welcome the opportunity.