By Bret McKeand
District 5495 Governor 2021-22
November is Rotary Foundation Month and there’s no better time to remind ourselves and our clubs of the tremendous impact our contributions to the foundation have had – and continue to have -- on our fellow citizens throughout the world.
As we all know, our continued support and contributions to The Rotary Foundation allow Rotarians to impact so many lives in every corner of the globe. As stated on Rotary’s website, “The Rotary Foundation transforms our gifts into service projects that change lives both close to home and around the world.”
The Rotary Foundation was created at the 1917 convention. Outgoing RI President Arch Klumph proposed Rotary set up an endowment for the purpose of “doing good in the world.” Hard to believe, but the foundation we all know of today was started with an initial donation of $26.50.
But that single, small donation launched a movement that over the years has impacted and transformed millions of lives around the world. Over the past 100 years, The Rotary Foundation has spent more than $4 billion to help transform our planet.
This past year was an enormously challenging year, and we Rotarians should be proud of what the foundation did to address the needs created by a worldwide pandemic.
During the 2019-20 year, The Rotary Foundation awarded over $300 million in grants for the first time in its history, much of that devoted to challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first six months of 2020, The Rotary Foundation had awarded nearly $25 million in disaster-response grants supporting COVID-19 related projects.
And our efforts to eradicate polio from the face of the earth have not slowed down while we battled a worldwide pandemic. As of Nov. 1, there have only been two cases this year of the wild polio virus reported in the last two countries where the disease still exists (Pakistan and Afghanistan).
We’re getting closer and closer to achieving our goal of a polio-free world, but now is not the time to relax. It’s important we all continue to contribute to the foundation’s PolioPlus campaign.
There are a number of ways we Rotarians and our clubs can support The Rotary Foundation:
  • First, I would encourage every club to observe Rotary Foundation Month by making a contribution to either the Annual Fund or PolioPlus – or both. Many of our clubs have their own foundation to support worthy projects at the local level. If your foundation has funds to spare, I encourage you to consider a donation this month equal to $100 for each member in your club. Visit
  • Rotary Direct. I encourage all Rotarians in our district to sign up for Rotary Direct, which allows you to make a monthly donation direct to The Rotary Foundation rather than having to go through your club treasurer. It’s simple and it’s easy. You can sign up to make a monthly donation as little as $10 per month – less than a couple of cups of coffee at Starbucks!
  • Strive to become an Every Rotarian, Every Year club. I challenge every club in our district to attain this status, which means your annual club giving has reached $100 per capita or more, and all dues-paying members give at least $25 in a year. Clubs may want to show the Doing Good in the World - Every Rotarian, Every Year (EREY) presentation as a club program this month to educate your club members on The Rotary Foundation.
  • Invite a speaker to visit your club to share their experience with a foundation program. The options are endless and could include featuring a Peace Fellow, grant recipient, grant partner, or Rotarian or Rotaract leaders who have been touched by The Rotary Foundation. Visit our updated list of program speakers available on the district website.
  • Raise for Rotary provides clubs and individuals ideas and opportunities to conduct local fundraisers to benefit The Rotary Foundation and PolioPlus. There are myriad opportunities: Create your own fundraising event, host an athletic challenge, honor the memory of a loved one, celebrate a milestone and more. Visit for great ideas and examples.
Our district will recognize Rotary Foundation Month with two special events – a virtual program Nov. 20 explaining the work of the foundation and an in-person event Nov. 21 to recognize our district’s strongest supporters.
  • Rotary Foundation Education Day is 9 a..m.-noon Saturday, Nov. 20. All Rotarians are welcome to attend this free, virtual program that will provide information on The Rotary Foundation, its programs and grants. You’ll also hear updates on Rotary’s polio-eradication efforts throughout the world and gain ideas on how to increase foundation giving in your club. Information and registration can be done under the Rotary Foundation tab on the district website.
  • The district will conduct a Rotary Foundation Celebration Luncheon 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 at Arizona Broadway Theater in Peoria. Significant donors to TRF will be recognized and inspiration projects will be shared. Cost is $45 per person and registration is limited. For more information or questions, please contact Charlie Tegarden, chair of our district’s Rotary Foundation Committee.
As Rotarians, we’re all looking to make an impact in our community and in our world. Whether it’s delivering dictionaries, supporting the local food bank or cleaning up the local park, it all makes a difference and contributes to a better world.
Our contributions to The Rotary Foundation allow each and every one of us to go beyond our club and community – and lend our support to transforming lives in every corner of the globe. That’s an impact many of us wouldn’t be able to make otherwise, and it’s an impact – an effort – worth supporting.
Thank you to our clubs for your great hospitality and welcoming me to your meetings and events in October!