Do you know your Foundation?


When people ask me what TRF is, I tell them it’s the heart of Rotary. You may have heard before that Rotary has an intelligent heart. The Foundation combines our emotional response of compassion with pragmatic action. With both heart and brain, you can change the world.

So, what does the Foundation mean to you? November is Rotary Foundation month, but do you really know our Foundation? First, it truly is our Foundation. TRF doesn’t belong to me or the other 14 trustees, nor to the RI Board of Directors, nor to the RI president. It belongs to each Rotarian around the world. And it’s there for all of us to change the world. We save mothers and children because we have compassion, and we know how to plan. We provide clean water and sanitation where they’re needed to those who need them, because we build strategies based on a community’s needs. We combine support for peace, education, and economic stability for at-risk communities with an ability to manage big projects.

Giving to the Foundation is smart, too, because in doing so, you multiply the value of that gift. How many other foundations can you think of that identify the projects, fund them, and run them on the ground themselves? Ours is the only one I know. And we get it all done at such a relatively low administrative cost. This is one reason Charity Navigator consistently gives the Foundation a four-star rating.

I sometimes get asked a question: How much should I be giving to the Foundation? Each year, make a gift of what you can afford to give. For some, that is $100, and for ­others, more. What’s most important is that you give something, because each generous gift helps us meet the increased demand we’re seeing from members for global grants and our other programmes.

This year, we want to raise $50 million for PolioPlus, which will be matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for a total of $150 million. If every Rotary club contributed just $1,500, we would surpass this goal. We have other goals as well — for the Annual Fund, the Endowment Fund, and outright gifts — adding up to a grand total of $410 million.

We will get there if we set our hearts — and minds — to it. But remember, it’s not about the money; it’s what the money can do. There’s a saying that goes, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” The Foundation is that stone, so let us turn ripples into great waves with it, using our hearts and our minds.

John F Germ 
Foundation Trustee Chair

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