Our giving adds up


As an accountant, I look at the world through the lens of inputs and outputs. We can plan with precision today for success tomorrow. My profession also taught me that numbers — those inputs and outputs — can sometimes tell great stories.

One of those stories is TRF: What it has given the world, starting from a modest input of $26.50, is nothing short of remarkable.

In 1918, that amount — the surplus from that year’s Rotary Convention in Kansas City, Missouri — was applied, at the suggestion of 1916–17 Rotary President Arch Klumph, to a fund with the purpose of doing good in the world. The fund grew modestly until 1947, when Rotary founder Paul Harris died and donations poured in as a tribute to him. That year, the Foundation supported scholarships for 18 students — the first indication of the greatness to come.

Later the Foundation expanded, providing programmes such as Group Study Exchange and humanitarian grants which impacted the lives of members and communities around the world. In 1979, a major grant helped immunise 6.3 million children in the ­Philippines against polio, which led to the establishment of PolioPlus in 1985.

Rotary’s work with polio eradication — helping reduce wild polio from an estimated 1,000 cases daily in 1988 to just six total cases in 2021 — has been one of the most ambitious humanitarian projects ever undertaken by a nongovernmental body. That success story alone shows the significance and widespread impact of Rotary and its Foundation. Perhaps what is even more remarkable is that polio eradication is but one part of the Foundation’s efforts.

Today, the Foundation has grown into a multimillion-dollar charity. Our robust funding model allows districts the flexibility to choose which Rotary aspects they would like to support — polio eradication, scholarships, district grants, global grants, and more. Today’s Foundation impacts the world through disaster relief, disease prevention, peace education and other areas.

Everyone in Rotary is part of this great legacy; it is our responsibility to keep it going. This year, the trustees have set the goal of raising $430 million. I know the expectations are high. But I also know just how much our members can achieve.

To get there, we will work together as we always do, with each club and individual giving what they can. In this way, we will ensure that we meet our ambitious but achievable goal and move our Foundation forward.

Ian H S Riseley
Foundation Trustee Chair


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