Rotary Clubs accomplish more by working together and with other partners.  One of the ways in which clubs mobilize is through Rotarian Action Groups (RAGs).   First recognized by the Rotary International Board of Directors in 2005, membership in is open to Rotarians, family members, and alumni.  They collaborate with a wide variety of other organizations who care about the same issues.

As of April 2016, there were 26 RAGs with a combined membership of 29,785 in more than 100 countries.  In a sense, RAGs are like consultancies in that they share their expertise and help others to take action.  If you belong to a Rotary Club that is interested in getting more involved in preventing/responding to human trafficking, but has no expertise, that shouldn’t stop you.  The Rotarian Action Group Against Slavery can provide advice as to where your time and energy can make the biggest difference.  If your club wanted to support micro-credit programs but was unsure what organizations are the most credible, the Rotarian Action Group for Microcredit and Community Development is a good resource.  Seeking other Clubs or organizations to partner with in promoting literacy?  Then take a look at the Literacy Rotarian Action Group.  The largest of them all remains the Rotarian Action Group for Population and Development with over 20,000 members.   

In addition to RAGs, there are social fellowships that bring Rotarians together around recreational activities such as photography, cooking, sports, wine, travel, and so on.  Rotary was created in large part on the ideal that fellowship opens up opportunities for service.  Not surprisingly, when social fellowships and action groups work together it often results in having a good time while making a difference.  For example, the Beers Rotarians Enjoy Worldwide (BREW) fellowship works with the Water Sanitation and Hygiene Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG – get it?) to raise money for projects around the world.  Togther they have the expertise and the numbers to have a major impact.   Given the rapid growth in the number off independent breweries in the United States and around the world, the possibilities for partnerships are growing all the time.

There remain ample opportunities to expand membership in existing RAGs.  However, if you are a Rotarian who cares deeply about an issue for which there is not an action group, think about forming one! Requirements for creating and maintaining an action group are straight forward.  You need at least 25 prospective members from at least five countries.  Once you have that, email actiongroups@rotary.org for help developing your proposal that will be submitted to Rotary International.  If approved, RAGs must comply with Rotary International policies and submit an annual report of activities and finances. 

If you are a non-Rotarian, don’t hesitate to reach out to the existing RAGs as they may be able to provide expertise and/or partner with you.   Please feel free to tweet your thoughts on Rotarian Action Groups at @bryan_schaaf