Explaining The Rotary Foundation (part 1)

Screen shot 2015-02-08 at 2.51.49 PM• Although Rotary International has numerous programs and services easily communicated ti most people, The Rotary Foundation (TRF) for some reason often is not well understood. To help alleviate that problem. RI has created a series of three articles of explanation This is the first.

by Quentin Wodon
Rotary International

The Rotary Foundation (TRF) of Rotary International is a major player in the work of Rotarians worldwide. True, most activities organized by clubs and indeed most service projects are implemented independently of the Rotary Foundation. Many clubs have their own foundations and many projects do not require a foundation to be implemented. But, for most investments at scale, TRF does play a key role, so Rotarians should have at least a basic knowledge of the foundation.

My guess is that this is not the case today, so I thought it might be useful to run a three-post series on some of the basics of the foundation. This first post discusses assets and expenses. The next will look at categories of expenses by thematic areas. The third will discuss management and suggest a few ideas to make TRF more impactful.

How large is TRF In Terms of Assets?

A widely-used measure of the size of a foundation is its assets. According to their latest annual report (consolidated statements of activities), TRF and Rotary International had $1.2 billion in total assets as of the end the 2013-14 fiscal year, and $1.09 billion in assets net of liabilities. This represented an increase in net assets of about $130 million versus the previous year (2012-13) when net assets were at $961 million and total assets were at $1.08 billion.

One billion dollars is no small change, but some other foundations are even larger. Within the United States, TRF would rank about 71st in terms of assets according to data from the Foundation Center. (For some reason, TRF is not listed in the top 100 foundations put together by the Foundation Center, so the exact ranking is not available). The largest U.S. foundation is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which had more than $40 billion in assets at the end of 2013. A dozen other U.S. foundations have assets between $5 billion and $15 billion, and many more had assets between $1 billion and $5 billion.

In other words, in comparison to some of the largest U.S. foundations, TRF could be considered as mid-size, even if it remains large in comparison to most. In comparison to foundations from other service club organizations, TRF also is  the largest, by far. Lions Clubs International now has more members than Rotary worldwide, but the Lions Clubs International Foundation had total assets in 2014 of $318 million. This is still large, but quite a bit smaller than TRF. The Kiwanis International Foundation is much smaller in terms of assets ($28 million in 2013).

How large is TRF In Terms of Grants?

Grants matter more than assets, because this is where the foundations make a difference. In 2013-14, TRF has total expenses of $350 million. About two-thirds of that amount ($232 million) were allocated to program expenses. The rest went to TRF development expenses ($16 million), TRF general administration ($5 billion), RI operating expenses ($73 million) and RI service and other activities ($25 million).

With $232 million in program giving last year, TRF would have ranked about 25th among U.S. foundations, according to the list from the Foundation Center. This is a pretty good ranking. By comparison, the Lions Clubs International Foundation provided $44 million in grants in 2014, and the Kiwanis International Foundation made $18 million in grants in 2013. Only one U.S. foundation — the aforementioned Gates organization — gives more than $1 billion dollar in grants per year;  it gives more than $3 billion per year.

Why is there such a jump in terms of ranking for TRF among U.S. foundations when considering grants or contributions instead of assets? In large part because many U.S. foundations rely mostly or quasi exclusively on their endowments to make grants, without necessarily a lot of extra funding coming in annually apart from returns on equity. By contrast, TRF also is able to rely on donations from Rotarians, among others through its annual fund. In 2013-14, revenues from the annual fund reached $117 million. A separate endowment fund grew by $24 million. Annual giving by Rotarians, which is invested by the Foundation, is what makes it feasible for TRF to be able to make more grants in a sustainable and long-term basis.

Still, we should all realize that, while substantial, $232 million in grants/contributions per year remains small in comparison to some of the investments made by other players in the field of development. Official Development Assistance flows estimated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development stood at $134.5 billion in 2013. The largest recipient was Afghanistan, with more than $5 billion in aid. And, some groups such as World Vision or Catholic Charities tend to have larger footprints than TRF. For example, World Vision provides funding to the tune of $2.3 billion per year for international programming as well as relief and rehabilitation, or about 10 times the level of contributions of TRF.

Who Gives the Most to TRF?

Since annual contributions are essential for the future of TRF, it is useful to look at who gives. The country that gives the most to TRF is the U.S. This is not surprising because the U.S. also has the largest membership in Rotary.

For the Rotary year 2013-14, TRF received $174 million from donors in the U.S. This includes $90 million in matches for polio programs from the Gates Foundation, so individual and other forms of giving reached $84 million. Japan came in second with $15 million in giving, followed by India with $13 million, Korea with $12 million, Taiwan with $9 million, Italy with $8 million, Canada and Germany with about $7 million each, and Brazil with $5 million.

How about giving per member? On a per-Rotarian basis Taiwan comes out on top with $216, followed by Korea at $182, Canada at $168, Japan at $134, the U.S. at $124, not including the Gates Foundation matches, and Australia  at $123. In other countries, average giving per Rotarian to TRF is below $100 per year.

Considering that membership in Rotary costs much more than that, including for meals in many clubs, these levels of individual giving are, frankly, too low, especially in the United States where donors benefit from a tax exemption when giving since TRF is a registered 501c(3) charity. But, this is another matter that will not be discussed here.

NEXT: In comparison to overall flows for projects in developing countries, TRF is not at the same level as a number of other players, which makes the issue of strategic positioning essential for the foundation. That will be the topic of the next post in this series.


‘Broadway Lights Up Rotary’ at Proctors fete

Rotary Foundation logoThat headline was the theme of Friday night’s Rotary Foundation annual dinner, this year held on the main stage of the Proctors theater complex in Schenectady.

More than 200 people, a record number, attended the fundraiser for the Foundation that offered — in addition to a reverse look at the theater by viewing it from the stage — pop music selections from Switch Point, Dynamic Duo, performing in a high-level box seat during the cocktail hour. Hors d’oeuvres and dinner were served by Mansion Catering. Past District Governor Bob Comins performed his magic act, and cabaret performer Laura Roth entertained with songs, monologues and chit-chat with the audience.

Six people from Southern Rensselaer County — Bill and April Dowd, Peter and Debbie Brown and Murray and guest Maggie Forth — attended in support of the Foundation, the charitable arm of Rotary International. Bill, the Forths and Jim Leyhane were members of the Honorary Committee for their Foundation contributions.

The Foundation is supported solely by contributions from Rotarians and friends. Mary Burch-Macherone of the Glenville Club was chair of the event committee. Southern Rensselaer County was awarded a certificate for its PolioPlus contributions during the year.

Here are a few scenes from the evening:

Mainstage event space from the balcony.
Mainstage event space viewed from the balcony.
'Reverse theater view,' seeing seats from the stage.
‘Reverse theater view,’ seeing seats from the stage.
Musical trio performed from a box seat.
Musical trio performed from a box seat.
A Proctors tradition has cast of major productions signing their customized dressing table. Here, "Phantom."
A Proctors tradition has cast of major productions signing their customized dressing table. Here, “Phantom of the Opera” …
... and here, "Wicked."
… and here, “Wicked.”

Update: Details on ‘Broadway Lights Up Rotary’

The main stage at Proctors.
The main stage at Proctors.

UPDATE (9/8/14): Details for non-Honorary Committee participation in the upcoming Rotary Foundation event were not available when we posted the story below. We now can tell you that dinner reservations will be just $75 per person and the reservation list will be open on Sept. 20 for the Nov. 14 event. FYI: The event is open to non-Rotarians as well. A great chance to treat some friends to a dinner on the Main Stage at Proctors. (Club prez Bill Dowd’s comment: “Since being an Honorary Committee member is only $100 compared to the $75 ticket and counts toward your place in Foundation Heaven, I’m personally inclined to become an Honorary payee.”)

(Original posting)

District 7190’s annual Rotary Foundation event will be “Broadway Lights Up Rotary.” Honorary committee members are being sought.

The festive evening is scheduled for Friday, November 14, at the historic Proctors theater complex in downtown Schenectady.

District Governor David Hennel has issued an invitation for Rotarians to enjoy dinner and entertainment on the main stage at Proctors that evening.

“This year, as in the past, we offer you the opportunity to make our world a healthier, safer and happier place to live,” Dave says. “To help ‘Light Up Rotary’ in 2014 we ask that you consider making your Sustaining Membership contribution of $100 or more to the Annual Program Fund, which is fully deductible and is credited directly to your personal Rotary Foundation account.

“Your name will be listed in the program and in the December Toolbox as a member of the ‘Broadway Lights Up Rotary’ Honorary Committee. In addition, as a member of the Honorary Committee you will enjoy a special VIP tour of the beautiful Proctors theater when you attend the event.”

The name of any Rotarian who already has made a $100 or higher contribution to the Annual Program Fund of the Rotary Foundation since July 1, 2014, or has a Rotary Direct account designated to the Annual Program Fund in that amount or more will also appear in the Program and the December Toolbox.

To become an Honorary Committee members, print out the form below and mail it with your check of $100 or more per person to:

David Rey
District 7190 Annual Giving Chair
310 Juniper Drive
Schenectady, NY 12306

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 2.13.46 PM

Tickets on sale for Rotary musical at Cohoes

A note from Bill Nathan, District 7190 governor:

Dear District 7190 Rotarians:

We trust that you’re “in tune” for the upcoming Rotary Foundation District Event at the Cohoes Music Hall. After all, it is a musical.

We hope to see you all on Wednesday, December 7, at 6 p.m. for an evening of food, drink and fellowship with Rotarians from throughout the District.

There will be a silent auction for your holiday shopping, followed by a performance of  “It’s a Wonderful Life — The Musical.”

Tickets are available online or by calling 237-5858.  Prices: Adults $35, alumni of Foundation programs $20, children $10, family package (2 adults and 2 children) $80.

As we’ve done in prior years, we will continue to offer Honorary Committee recognition for those who give $100 or more to the Rotary Foundation.

Your gift to the Foundation provides humanitarian, educational and medical aid to those in need throughout the world.  Furthermore, fully 50% of the money we give comes back to the District to support club projects, both local and international.

W e should take special pride that the Rotary Foundation has the coveted 4-star rating by the Charity Navigator.  It earns this largely because for the three years immediately following the donation, the money is parked in an interest-bearing account that pays for the Foundation overhead.  At the end of the three years fully 100% of what you give goes into programming — and that’s unique among charities.  It’s that time, too, that the 50% of a giving year comes back to the District that raised it.

Kindly comlpete the donation form if you would like to make a donation and send it with your check to PDG Anne Cargile.

If you made a donation to The Rotary Foundation of $100 or more since July 1,  OR if you are on the TRF-Direct automatic deduction plan, please so indicate on the attached form and send it to Anne.  Your name will be included on the Honorary Committee list.

Please note that your Honorary Committee contribution is tax-deductible and will be credited to your Foundation account toward Paul Harris Fellowship recognition.

We thank you for your consideration.  Our gifts will be helping to make our communities and those beyond a healthier, safer and happier place to live.

Go here for the Events Calendar.

‘Wonderful Life’ Foundation event set for Dec. 7

Mark your calendar. District 7190’s annual Foundation Event has been rescheduled for Wednesday, December 7, at the Cohoes Music Hall.

There will be food and a wine bar along with a silent auction at 6 p.m., followed by a performance of the seasonal play “It’s a Wonderful Life – The Musical.”

Reservation details and other information will be released as they become available.

Go here for the Events Calendar.

‘Embracing Generations’ at Cohoes Music Hall

This year’s Rotary Foundation event is scheduled for Sunday, November 13, at the Cohoes Music Hall.

The performance will inaugurate Rotary’s fifth avenue of service — New Generations.  The theatrical professionals at the Music Hall have developed a one-of-a-kind production that will highlight all of Rotary’s youth and young adult programs —  Interact, RYLA, Rotaract, Ambassadorial Scholars, Group Study Exchange — and The Rotary Foundation.

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. on the ground level of the historical theater’s visitors center at 58 Remsen Street with a reception and silent auction.  The 90-minute stage performance will begin at 7:30 with the singing and dancing we have come to appreciate from C-R Productions’ young professionals.

As in prior years, there will be an honorary committee consisting of those giving $100 or more to The Rotary Foundation. Support of the evening  will enable the Foundation to continue provide humanitarian, educational and medical aid to those in need throughout the world.  Fifty percent of the money given will come back to the District to support club projects, both local and international.

Honorary Member contributions are tax-deductible and will be credited to your Foundation account.  All those who have given a Foundation contribution of $100 or more since July 1 or are on the TRF-Direct automatic deduction plan will be listed as an Honorary Committee member.

Just print out the reservation form below and follow the directions for pricing and mailing.

[Go here for the Events Calendar.]

Meeting of June 9, 2011


The Browns took family attendance honors at this meeting, with Debbie and Peter flanking grandsons Cameron (second from left) and Ethan as their guests. The younger Brown family will be heading for Spain next week to visit the family that hosted their father when he was a Rotary Exchange Student.

Attendance (16): Terry Brewer, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Bill Kneissl, Russ Edberg, Geoff Brewer, Bill Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Doris Calamaras, Dean Calamaras, Charlie Foote, Len Leonidas, Debbie Rodriguez, Steve Phelps.

Guests (5): Anne M. Cargile, District Rotary Foundation Chair; Harry Cargile; Tina Wang, a onetime group exchange student; Ethan Brown, Cameron Brown.


• Jim Leyhane and Bill Dowd will represent the club at the Wednesday, June 29, District 7190 Changeover Dinner at which the new District Governor will be inducted.

• The club’s own Changeover Dinner will be held on Thursday, June 23, at Murray Forth’s residence, when Jim succeeds Terry Brewer for the 2011-2012 Rotary Year.

• We will meet at the Holiday Inn on June 30 for the last time this summer. Terry is looking for members to sign up to host the informal summer meetings (see his letter below). Other possible summer activities mentioned are a distillery tour, a Hudson River boat trip and a ValleyCats baseball game.

• Bill Dowd reported making deliveries of food and other items to the Peaceable Kingdom Animal Rescue in Columbia County. April Dowd, who coordinated the effort, will continue to supply and support this effort. She welcomes assistance from other members. Some photos are on the website (scroll down).

Program: Anne M. Cargile on the Rotary Foundation

Anne (right) spoke about the Foundation’s organization and efforts, using three large buckets to illustrate the divisions: the Annual Fund, the PoloPlus fund and the Permanent Fund. She spoke about how to donate and explained that soon forms for grants and some fund sharing will be available online. Even grant requests can be applied for online.

Anne encouraged everyone to continue annual giving that supports many and various projects. Rotary international is making changes to the online program.

Anne was part of a Rotary volunteer group that traveled to Nigeria to help give oral polio vaccine to 2,000 children under age 5. Each immunized child got a “purple pinkie” to show they had been treated. She discussed how some local schools now hold “Purple Pinkie Days,” in which students contribute $1 for their own purple pinkie.

Bill Gates has increased his donation to $300 million for PolioPlus, but only if Rotary can raise the agreed amount. All funds will go to supply the polio vaccine in areas of the world still not free of the disease. She showed a brief video of children who are benefiting from the polio vaccine.

The club presented Anne with two checks, one for $1,000 for our PolioPlus contribution, the other of $1,500 for the annual fund.

A Visitor Returns:

Tina Wang (left), a resident of Taiwan who spent time in the Capital Region two years ago as part of a Rotary Group Study Exchange, spoke briefly to the club. She returned to the area to visit the host families and other friends she met while here, and extended an invitation from her and her husband to host any visiting 7190 Rotarians who may visit Taiwan.

Next meeting: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 16. Program: The Doctors on “The Patient-Centered Medical Home.”

[Go here for the Events Calendar.]

RI appoints new general secretary

[Rotary International News]

Rotary International has named John Hewko (right), an attorney with extensive international experience in the private and public sectors, to be the global humanitarian service organization’s new top executive, serving as its general secretary.

Hewko, who speaks six languages, will manage more than 600 employees of RI and its charitable arm, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Rotary’s Secretariat supports the activities of more than 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, with a combined membership of 1.2 million men and women. The Rotary Foundation annually distributes more than $180 million to fund a variety of educational programs and humanitarian projects worldwide.

Go here for more details.

[Go here for the Events Calendar.]

‘A Christmas Carol’ becomes a Rotary fundraiser

If doing good while having fun appeals to you, save Wednesday, December 8, on your social calendar.

That’s the date for “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” at the Cohoes Music Hall. The night is a District 7190 fundraiser for the Rotary Foundation, and will include hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, a cash bar and an exclusive performance for Rotarians, their families and friends.

Tickets are $40 for adults, $25 for alumni, and $10 for children. Discounts are available for purchases made before November 5. A family package, which includes 2 adult and 2 child tickets, are $80. Limited orchestra seating is available for the earliest adult tickets purchased.

For tickets, call Tony Rivera at (518) 237-5858 extension 2, or use e-mail.

[Go here for the Events Calendar.]