Everyone who is acquainted with Dallas Stallings knows that he’s a storyteller extraordinaire. On Monday, he charmed his fellow Rotarians with a first-person tale about the birth of the Rotary Foundation. “Conceived in Cleveland and born in Atlanta one hundred years ago,” he began, and proceeded to weave the narrative of Arch Klumph.
At the 1917 convention, outgoing Rotary President Klumph proposed to set up an endowment “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” He challenged his fellow Rotarians to contribute, saying that the interest on the funds could be used to help underprivileged children, preserve clean water, and promote world peace, as well as support other acts of service around the globe. The concept didn’t exactly catch fire; one club in Kansas City contributed its entire treasury – twenty-six dollars and fifty cents – for the distinction of being the first club to show support. A Rotarian from California sent in ten dollars just to get in early on a good idea.
The “grandfather” of Rotary, Paul Harris, encouraged donations to what would become The Rotary Foundation, but after ten years, there was only about $5,000 in the endowment. Nevertheless, in 1929, the Foundation made its first gift of $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children. Created by Rotarian Edgar F. Allen, this organization later grew into Easter Seals.
Sadly, Harris was not around to witness the results of his visionary work, but after his death in 1947, contributions began pouring in to Rotary International, and the Paul Harris Memorial Fund was created to build up the Foundation. Within months, the $5,000 had grown to $1.5 million, and now exceeds $3 billion. The Association of Fundraising Professionals named The Rotary Foundation its Outstanding Foundation of the Year for 2016.
In the years that followed, the Foundation’s programs indeed reached around the world. In 1947, the Fellowships for Advance Study, now known as Ambassadorial Scholarships, were established. Ten years later, the Group Study Exchange and Matching Grants programs were created. In the 80’s, Rotarians took up the charge of eradicating polio worldwide; an early 3-H (Health, Hunger, and Humanity) grant paid for the immunization of six million children in the Philippines, and PolioPlus was born. Today, there are fewer than 30 cases of polio worldwide.
In 1987-88, the first international peace forums were held, leading to the creation of Rotary Peace Fellowships. Today, we’re proud to be home to one of only seven peace centers in the world, shared by UNC and Duke. At any given time, more than 50 students work with our International Committee to promote global peace, education, and grow local economies – “the heart and soul of what Rotary is all about,” says Dallas.
As The Rotary Foundation celebrates its centennial, right on the heels of our club’s own 100th birthday, Dallas challenges us all, as Paul Harris certainly must have, “to make the coming years even more meaningful for the people on our planet.” His words echo those of founder Arch Klumpf, found on the Rotary centennial page (www.centennial.rotary.org): “We should not live for ourselves alone, but for the joy in doing good for others.”
Past District Governor Newman Aguiar stepped to the lectern to explain a bit about how the Foundation works. “It’s like a crazy Ponzi scheme – magic money that somehow comes back to you,” he laughs. When a Rotarian makes a contribution to the Foundation, the Foundation invests it, and uses the interest earned over the next three years to fund its operations.
After that, half of the money goes back to the district that made the donation (as District Designated Funds (DDF)), and half goes to fund larger programs. Last year, our district got $175,000 back, from contributions totaling $350,000 three years ago. In our club’s centennial year, along with other clubs in our district we were able to leverage that return into over a million dollars of impact locally and globally. For example, Newman cited the Crayons 2 Calculators school supplies drive. When our club was first involved five years ago, we raised about $5,000 in donations and supplies. This past August, the total exceeded $135,000.
“International grants are even more magical,” Newman said. “By partnering with other districts and clubs in other countries to solicit matching grants, our financial impact can be as much as three and a half times what the club contributes. That lets us focus on addressing huge global problems with solutions that are sustainable over time.”
Newman notes that our club has shown a lot of leadership in collaborating with other area and district clubs. “As a Rotarian you should always know that every dollar you give is changing lives around the world in significant and sustainable ways.”
Dallas stepped in to announce a matching Paul Harris program. The Rotary Foundation will match every dollar donated up to $500. “What a great gift for a spouse, or a child, to honor them with a Paul Harris Fellowship this holiday season,” he said. Contact Dallas or Andy Esser to make your contribution.
In closing, Dallas urged his fellow Rotarians to read the commemorative book, “Doing Good in the World: The Inspiring Story of the Rotary Foundation’s First 100 Years.” It can be purchased through this website: https://shop.rotary.org/doing-good-in-the-world-hardcover-929.
Submitted by: Carver C. Weaver