Honorary Membership has been a topic of much attention lately in our club both in the governing board and in the general membership. Over the last couple of months there has been an increased interest in applications for honorary membership and the governing board has had to make some tough decisions with no established definition of "Honorary" or guidelines. In an attempt to remove the arbitrary nature of our past approval process we are in the process of developing a definition of what Honorary means to this club and a set a guidelines to help establish fair and consistent measures in granting honorary status.

I will start off by saying that up until about three months ago, the board was rarely approached with requests for Honorary membership (as evidenced by the fact that there were only four living Honorary members in the whole club). With such a relatively low frequency of requests a set procedure for approval of requests had apparently never been documented and we had little to go on. After approving the first request we received, we began receiving requests for multiple other members and could see that we may be heading down a dangerous road.

Honorary status is the highest distinction that can be bestowed upon a Rotarian in our club and an Honorary member is exempted from paying membership dues, is not counted in the club head count and is not allowed to hold committee positions or leadership roles within the club. This presents a complicated problem because by granting this status, we essentially lose a member, and presumably one of our best ones. Each time we grant Honorary status to another member, we reduce the resources that the club has to draw on both financially and with respect to leadership and abilities. We must consider, in each case, not only how well deserved the title may be, but also what the overall impact on the club will be.

The Rotary Constitution and other core documents (http://rotary.org/en/Members/PoliciesAndProcedures/PolicyDocuments/Pages/ridefault.aspx) describe in more detail what an Honorary member is and some of the details surrounding that distinction, however the specific details of approval are at each club's discretion. We have been reviewing these documents and discussing them in detail while attempting to formalize a set of constraints that this club's board will use in the future to determine when the Honorary status should be granted. We ask that everyone be patient with us as we consider this important topic and encourage you take a look at the RI documents and send us your feedback.