Foundation, membership – Rotary’s pillars of strength

With its transparent funding and stewardship, The Rotary Foundation is playing a key role in executing global service projects. But Rotary clubs still find applying for global grants a cumbersome process as they have to fill forms and answer queries from the RI head office at Evanston before they get their funds sanctioned. Chairing a panel discussion on TRF giving (Hundi Daan), trustee Bharat Pandya said, “unlike repaying with interest for bank loans, global grants are offered to genuine projects that fulfil certain criteria and they don’t ask for collateral. The only requirement is that we have to observe due diligence.”

From L: PRID Kamal Sanghvi, RIPN Stephanie Urchick, RI Directors A S Venkatesh and Drew Kessler, and RIDE Anirudha Roychowdhury at the membership-related panel discussion.
From L: PRID Kamal Sanghvi, RIPN Stephanie Urchick, RI Directors A S Venkatesh and Drew Kessler, and RIDE Anirudha Roychowdhury at the membership-related panel discussion.

Some views of the panellists on TRF-related issues:
Trustee Jorge Aufranc, Guatemala
The Foundation has been a ‘lava of philanthropy’ and is the best investment to make the world a better place. Charity Navigator has given it a four-star rating consecutively for 10 years. For providing food and shelter to displaced people in the Ukraine war, over $15 million was sanctioned under the emergency Disaster Relief Grants. TRF okayed 478 district grants totalling $28.7 million in 2021–22 and India ranked number two in TRF giving at $26.48 million last year. The US charity market was estimated at $728 billion the same year. Perhaps, we can also look at external donors to fund our TRF projects in the future. Also, we have to strengthen our linkages with our big partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

RID Drew Kessler, US
There is good understanding between the RI board and the board of trustees. Each year two joint meetings are held with the two boards exchanging notes. Stewardship is the key element that separates Rotary from other charity organisations as every single dollar is accounted for. We can take pride and purpose in how we are spending our funds.

RIDE T N Subramanian
Rotary clubs must seek help from regional grant officers and technical cadres for filling the global grant forms. Every club president must do financial planning and apply his/her mind while filing the GG grant ­application. The rise in directed gifts has adversely impacted the ­contributions to the Annual Programme Fund and we need to address this issue.

Summing up the talk, Pandya said TRF needs to invest in ­markets across the world, especially in India, rather than invest only in the US treasury bonds, for long-term assured returns. “We will continue giving to TRF in the years to come for it to sustain its global projects,” he said.

Membership, a corporate priority
Rotarians are the only sustainable assets of Rotary, “so we have to close the back door to retain our members,” said PRID Kamal Sanghvi, while moderating a panel discussion. “Each one of you should be a good storyteller to attract new members.”

The views of other panellists:
RIPN Stephanie Urchick: During the pandemic, Rotary clubs reached out to the communities and our ‘psychic income’ went up across the world. It is in our DNA to make the world a better place. A new format or cause-based clubs must be encouraged as they give flexibility to members. As the fastest growing segment, cause-based clubs provide a new range of experience and bonding for members.

RID A S Venkatesh
Rotary is a member-based organisation that does service. It is the responsibility of zones to induct new members. We need to involve Rotaractors as much as possible. There is no need to handhold them, but allow them to define themselves and they can do wonders in Rotary as they are focused, passionate and energetic.

From L: TRF Trustees Bharat Pandya and Jorge Aufranc, RID Kessler, RIDE T N Subramanian and RID Mahesh Kotbagi at the TRF-related discussion.
From L: TRF Trustees Bharat Pandya and Jorge Aufranc, RID Kessler, RIDE T N Subramanian and RID Mahesh Kotbagi at the TRF-related discussion.

RID Drew Kessler
We need more hands to accomplish more things, hence membership is our top priority. We can learn from Rotaractors on ways to diversify and usher in gender parity too. If every Rotarian lives up to the ideals of the 4-Way Test, it will strengthen our clubs, lift our public image and get in more members.

RIDE Anirudha Roychowdhury
There are certain gaps which need to be addressed. We need to engage our new members and understand their aspirations better. Secondly, the November data on Rotaract shows a steep fall in membership which may be due to “mandatory RI dues that have come into force.” We need to give space to new format clubs for which there is a big demand now.

In his concluding remarks, ­Sanghvi said in Rotary everything ticks based on membership. Rotarians must not just adopt Each One Bring One, but also retain one. Also, Rotary is a platform to have fun and varied experiences with like-minded people, he said.

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