By Past President Tricia Reardon

In the world of Human Resources, one of the most common responses from job interviewees is that what motivates them most in the workplace is being recognised—that simple ‘thank you’ seems to go far beyond monetary reward. It’s the same in Rotary.  Whilst there will always be those who do not want recognition for the ‘above and beyond’ effort they put in, for many others, gratitude is incredibly motivating, especially when it is unanticipated.

Certainly within the workplace, implementing gratitude into company culture lifts employee ‘positivity’ and creates a flow on effect to others. Likewise in volunteer organisations such as Rotary, where people are giving without reward, spontaneous gratitude can have a powerful effect, including member retention, stronger bonds amongst members, and improvement in motivation to take on projects, roles or tasks. After all, those who go the extra make their clubs stronger, their communities better and more resilient, and they are making peace possible.

There are many ways Rotary clubs can recognise the work of their members from annual president recognition awards to Rotary International recognitions such as Avenues of Service Award (district recognition and RI recognition), Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service, Rotary Foundation Distinguished Service Award, Rotary Foundation District Service Award, Service Above Self Award, Service Award for a Polio-Free World, and PolioPlus Pioneer Award. Information on these awards can be found on the My Rotary website:

The most widely used acknowledgement or recognition of a person’s contribution to a club or their community is the presentation of Paul Harris Fellow recognition. Not an award, but a recognition, a Paul Harris Fellow is often incorrectly cited as the ‘highest honour that can be awarded by Rotary’. It is nevertheless a worthy form of recognition for those who go the extra mile. However, it should be remembered that a club is only able to make a Paul Harris Fellow presentation after it has made a USD$1,000 contribution (which may be cumulative) to the Rotary Foundation. Any Rotarian (or non-Rotarian) who also makes a personal contribution to the Rotary Foundation of USD$1,000 (also cumulative) is entitled to receive a Paul Harris Fellow recognition.

Recognising club members is very important, and so too is recognising non-Rotarians. There are myriad ways to do this that will not only thank someone for their support, but also build stronger relationships and even encourage membership.