In 1907, RC Chicago initiated its first public service project, the construction of public toilets in Chicago. This step transformed Rotary into the world’s first service club. This small beginning was the precursor for thousands of community service projects rendered by Rotarians throughout the world. Today, we are embarking on projects of major reach and substantial outlays in our Areas of Focus to make life-changing differences to the communities we serve.
As we grow in confidence, clubs and districts are scaling up projects they undertake, often with CSR funding from corporates. Our Foundation is going one step further with the launch of ‘Programmes of Scale’ (refer www.rotary.org for details). The grants are limited and will be awarded on a competitive basis. This is a great opportunity for clubs to undertake truly large-scale projects which will significantly impact the community.
Let me now turn to contributions. At this time last year, our total contributions were more than what it is this year. Whilst we are doing reasonably well in Polio Fund collection, thanks to the sustained efforts of our EPNCs — PDG E K Sagadhevan and PDG Keshav Kunwar — we are lagging behind in all others.
It is my earnest appeal to all DGs to motivate clubs and Rotarians to contribute to the Foundation. We have together set ourselves a target of $30 million for 2019–20. I am confident that we shall rise to the challenge and empower our Foundation to connect the world and continue to do good in the world.
As Poet Robert Browning so aptly put it: “Ah, but that a man’s reach should exceed his grasp; Or what’s a heaven for”, suggesting that to achieve anything worthwhile, we must attempt things that are seemingly impossible.
My best wishes to each one of you for a healthy, peaceful and happy 2020.
Gulam A Vahanvaty
Trustee, The Rotary Foundation