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What or who actually is an alumnus?  According to the dictionary it’s a graduate, or an ex-student, or a former student.
As far as Rotary is concerned, it’s someone who has had the opportunity to go overseas on a Rotary sponsored programme to further their education, study how their vocation is practised in another country, study the techniques of peace and conflict resolution, or just do some good for the country they have visited.
Rotary Foundation alumni associations have more than 115,000 people worldwide who have received program awards from the Rotary Foundation since 1947.  Foundation alumni include Ambassadorial Scholars, Rotary Peace Fellows, Group Study Exchange team leaders and members, and recipients of Rotary Grants for University Teachers and various Rotary volunteer grants.
These are talented, committed individuals who have experienced the work of Rotary and share its vision of furthering world understanding and peace.  They are available to speak at Rotary functions or participate in Rotary programs.  Alumni are powerful advocates for the Foundation because they provide the human face of Rotary programs and a sense of commitment to the world community.  They serve as volunteers for community and international service projects and are potential Rotary club members. 
A Rotary Foundation alumni association is a group of Rotary Foundation alumni bound by a given geographic area or common tie who unite to pursue service and fellowship.  There are 68 active alumni associations worldwide, and the number is growing every day.  Within our District we have about 300 Alumni that clubs have supported over the years whether as Ambassadorial or Peace Scholars or participants of Group Study Exchanges. 
Clubs could implement many strategies to tap into alumni as a source of potential members by:
  • Building strong relationships with current program participants.
  • Developing an action plan for keeping alumni involved in Rotary activities and for transitioning them into Rotary clubs.
  • Promoting alumni so other Rotarians understand their importance.
How can we involve them?
  • Ask alumni to join and continue asking even if an initial invitation is declined.
  • Help alumni find clubs that meet their needs.
  • Use alumni to start new clubs.  There is an all-Alumni Rotary Club in the Philippines.
  • Maintain contact with younger alumni until they're qualified for membership.
  • Involve alumni in other RI/TRF programs.
  • Involve alumni in club and district activities.
Because of their dedication to Rotary's values, these program alumni could make great Rotarians. They are already more familiar with Rotary than the average prospective club member, and their participation in Rotary's programs indicates that they are interested in our organization's objectives. Why not capitalize on our Alumni's experience with Rotary and receive a return on our investment by keeping them involved in Rotary as club members?
Contact the District Alumni Chair to gain more information about The Rotary Foundation Alumni.  There is a list of all the Alumni that clubs in our district have supported over the years.  Of course, many alumni leave home not long after returning from their visits as their vocational ambitions lead them in new directions, so some of the addresses District holds may not be current.  But at least it’s a starting point.
Give it a try.  Who knows, you just may find a new member who has been waiting to give back to Rotary and all they needed was to be asked.
Bob Matejcic
The Rotary Foundation
Alumni Chair
E-mail questions to