Caricature of Fred Collignon, by noted Berkeley artist, Stan Washburn

Caricature of Fred Collignon, by noted Berkeley artist, Stan Washburn

Rotary’s Foundation Gets Attention in December

The Rotary Foundation is getting much attention all year in this, its 100th birthday – just like our District. 

How did a small group of clubs end up creating one of the most effective, most efficient Foundations among the thousands of foundations across the world? The achievement is remarkable; one in which all Rotarians can take pride.   It has funded projects up and down our District improving local communities’ schools, parks, the environment, cultural institutions, public safety, and health care – just as it also been used by our clubs to make similar impacts in every corner of the globe.   You heard only a few of the remarkable stories in the Governor’s talk.  There’s more to come.

Our District’s fundraising prowess is awesome.   We contributed an average of $188 per member last year to the Annual Fund, 50% of which comes back to the District in three years for local projects. Much of the rest is held for our clubs’ global projects.  We’re blessed by having members in most of our clubs who contribute far more than that, many being Paul Harris Society members giving $1000 each year.  Many have put the Foundation in their wills, a few members each year contribute at levels of $10,000 or higher, and two generous District Rotarians have stepped up to become Arch Klumpf givers ($250,000 or higher).

Still, the money we raise is currently not large enough to fund all or most of the many local and international projects our District clubs would like to undertake.   Many clubs do additional fundraising on their own for such projects. Recent surveys have found that clubs raise $4 in local fundraising for every dollar they give to the Rotary Foundation.   But it sure is nice to leverage the big matches available when our club’s proposal wins funding from a grant. The good news is that our clubs create big and bold projects and we win in competitions for funds.  We’re net winners compared to most other Districts.

We have the MAJOR NEED of raising still more money to fund all our clubs want to do. To help clubs raise money for both Foundation and their local club projects fund, the District copied a club’s tactic and printed a “thermometers chart” for each club. The club president can visually show club members how they’re progressing in fundraising for both the Foundation and the local projects fund.  The visual makes clear that most clubs are fundraising for two different foundations.

For a club to raise funds effectively, the “ask” is a most important factor. The Foundation committee put a huge emphasis, while training Foundation chairs at the assemblies, on the importance of the one-on-one, face to face ask at the club level for a member’s contribution to each fund.  The Foundation Chair may need a partner, who used to doing such an “ask”.  The “ask” is most useful, of course, as the club year approaches its end; you can focus on the minority of members who have yet to reach the Rotary-suggested minimum of $100 a year, or even have given nothing.  But the second-best time for an ask is as the calendar year ends; it allow the donor imminent tax deductibility for their generosity.

Our fundraising challenge remains the minority of our District Rotarians who have yet to become financially involved; they give nothing, or less than the $100 Sustaining Level donation to the Foundation Annual Fund each year. Or, they don’t contribute to the club’s local endowment or projects fund.   Only a few clubs achieve 100% of members giving something each year.  We need their money for both funds for our projects.  I believe our clubs are failing these members by not helping entice them to get some “skin in game” so they can fully identify with Rotary and all its marvelous works locally and around the world.

A second challenge is to make sure all clubs get the chance to participate in Foundation projects.  Our District has principally achieved this by encouraging club partnerships in pursuing grants.  Thus, clubs lacking experienced grant-writers can join other clubs having those assets in launching projects.   Most of our grants involve club partnership.   Last year, our Foundation grants team initiated a new process of early review for grant proposals, to help ensure that the submitted club was “qualified” to receive a grant, and that the proposal had all the components required for success.   That was not a guarantee of funding, but assured the grant would get more consideration in the competition.  This current year, we created a new District committee that was prepared to help the few clubs that had not submitted a proposal in many years to do so – helping them if needed to design projects and prepare a proposal.   All the clubs that had not submitted proposals in recent year declared, however, that they had found a member able to do the grant-writing or were alternatively not wanting to submit a proposal.   This is information to celebrate, indeed.

There is further good news.  In recent research undertaken for the District by Frank May of the Moraga club, it was revealed that almost all clubs have participated in a grant since the start of the current grants process 5-6 years back.  Many have done so by partnerships, but the good majority have been the lead on at least one funded grant.  There’s less than a handful of clubs that have not so participated

Your Governor’s Call to Action:   Have you given to the Foundation and your local club projects fund in this Rotary year?  If not, the end of 2016 is a wonderful time to start. Are you a regular donor? The 100-year celebration is a milestone worth a generous contribution.  After all, successful marriages might require bigger gifts on birthdays and anniversaries ending in a zero, right?   And this is the Grand Old Man’s or Grand Old Lady’s Centennial – a double zero.  An ideal time to reach up and give a bigger gift.   Move up to major donor or the new Harris Fellowship jewel, or take the easy route of a Legacy gift – put Rotary in your will.  But act!  Your local and global community depends on you.