Monthly messages of Foundation Trustee Chair Wilfrid J. Wilkinson
In Canada, May is usually a beautiful month. Spring has blossomed, trees and flowers are in bloom, and everyone is filled with a renewed energy as winter finally comes to a close. The changing of seasons can also serve as a time for action as Rotarians bring a fresh perspective to the goals they set for the 2012-13 year.
Every Rotarian, every contribution, and every project makes a difference every year. Through The Rotary Foundation, we can all do our part to work toward global peace from the ground up. Has your club worked on a humanitarian or educational project through the Foundation? And if not – why not?
There is still time to make your contribution. There is still time to give a community the chance to drink clean water, a young girl the opportunity to attend school, and a mother the access to the safe maternal care she needs. Contact your district Rotary Foundation chair and see how you and the other Rotarians in your club or district can participate.
I understand the impact these difficult economic times have had on all of us, but we still need your help. Foundation programs and projects all start with money. I hope each Rotarian reading my message will have given something based on his or her own situation. It doesn’t take much from each individual when you have the support of more than 1.2 million members, but that assumes 100 percent support. If you’ve given, I thank you sincerely. But if you haven’t, I hope you will as together we make May a great month for Rotary and for our Foundation.
When I was RI president, I said Rotary is a love story in which people come together in fellowship, and which results in doing good in the world. During my years in Rotary, I have witnessed over and over again how communities and individuals benefit because of Rotary activities. These activities, to a great extent, result from exchanges about community needs identified during club meetings.
The month of April is a perfect example of what Rotarians and Rotary clubs can do to help make a better world. This month we celebrate National Volunteer Week, the International Day of Mine Awareness, World Health Day, and Earth Day, and each of these recognitions ties in with one of our six areas of focus. This tells me that every Rotary club member has a part to play as an effective volunteer in these important observances.
Furthermore, we owe it to our community and the world to tell our story, to make the world aware of our efforts. One way to achieve this is by supporting your Rotary regional magazine, particularly in April, which is also Magazine Month.
So how does all this relate to our Rotary Foundation? Well, very few initiatives don’t require funding. Your Foundation is often able to help, whether it’s with a district grant or a much larger global grant. Your contributions to the Foundation provide a potential source of funding that can help a club’s members do good in the world.
My goal this year is to announce at the international convention in Lisbon, Portugal, that it is estimated that every Rotarian gave something in the 2012-13 year.Can I count on you?
March is a turning point
The month of March provides each of us with an opportunity to reflect on Rotary’s accomplishments. It is during this month that we pause to recognize World Rotaract Week, International Women’s Day, World Water Day, and Literacy Month – all significant reminders of the good that Rotarians have done worldwide.
As I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve been inspired by Rotaractors and their important contributions to the Rotary family. I’ve had the chance to work with the outstanding women who serve on our Board of Directors. I’ve witnessed the incredible progress The Rotary Foundation has made on water and sanitation – an area of focus that is crucial to our growing population.
And as we begin this month long celebration of literacy, I’ve seen how Rotarians have helped empower communities with simple, creative, and sustainable ways to break the cycle of poor education. Literacy plays a critical role in healthy and productive lives, and whether it was by volunteering at a local school, bringing language training to adults and children through concentrated language encounter and computer-assisted literacy systems, or ensuring that all children have the textbooks they need, Rotarians have helped thousands.
Our promises and accomplishments have reached a turning point: We must now look at the goals we still aim to achieve. Keep the momentum up. Get the word out. Make sure your club knows about this important month in Rotary so that come next March, we’ll have even greater successes to celebrate.
Help build peace in our world
Rotary was built upon the idea of advancing goodwill and understanding – it’s in our mission, and part of everything we do. The Rotary Foundation has six areas of focus, each of which is important. But every one of them depends on peace in the world. We can’t celebrate the World Day of Social Justice on 20 February unless we have peace. We can’t really celebrate World Understanding and Peace Day on 23 February, which also marks Rotary’s 108th year of existence, unless we can say that we are working for peace.
There are endless ways to help build peace in our world, through our clubs and through our Foundation. The polio eradication initiative, as the largest global public health initiative in history, is doing a tremendous amount to promote peace – by building partnerships between the public and private sectors, by improving health infrastructure and monitoring the poorest areas, and by making it clear to all that we cannot have a healthy world if even one child is forgotten.
Peace comes from sharing, and as many of you know, Rotary Shares is my personal answer to what each Rotarian should be doing. This month, which we celebrate in Rotary as World Understanding Month, the efforts of every district, club, and Rotarian should be directed toward doing something for peace.
A year of momentous change
As we begin another calendar year, I’d like to offer my best wishes to all Rotarians for 2013, the 108th year of Rotary’s existence. This will be a year of momentous change for our Foundation. Our new grant model will be implemented worldwide six months from now, bringing changes to every district. We are looking to you to make sure those changes will be a success.
One of the fundamental premises of district grants under the Future Vision Plan is that Rotarians at the district level can determine what they can accomplish, whether in their own communities or abroad, more effectively than the Foundation can from a central office in Evanston. The new grant model puts responsibility for decision making, and for wise and careful use of substantial Foundation resources, into the hands of Rotarians at this level.
Our success will be supported by our investment of time and money in our International Assembly, the annual training for district governors-elect that takes place later this month in San Diego. This year’s event will include a great deal of information and education about Future Vision. As a result, when your district leaders return home, you will find them specially trained to lead Rotary and its Foundation to a successful conclusion to the 2012-13 year. We’ll create a solid basis for an even stronger Foundation in 2013-14, helping us as Rotarians with Doing Good in the World.
Are you on track to meet your goals?
It’s hard to believe that we have already reached the month of December, the month that celebrates the family of Rotary. We are also nearing the halfway point of our Foundation’s year. Now is the time when our plans to reach our 2012-13 goals should be reevaluated. Our words, our promises, our actions should be taking shape to ensure that we will accomplish what we planned during the last calendar year.
The month of December also provides each of us with much to think about. It is during this month that we pause to recognize World AIDS Day, International Volunteer Day, and Human Rights Day – all significant reminders to Rotarians of our Foundation’s aim of Doing Good in the World. Many of our clubs are working to help people with AIDS, others are volunteering all over the world to deliver Peace Through Service , and it is hard to count the number that will be raising their voices on 10 December for human rights.
My friends, as we start to wind down another calendar year, I am thankful to report that your Foundation is on track to achieve its goals for 2012-13 because of each and every Rotarian. This provides us with much to celebrate over the upcoming holiday season. My prayers and best wishes go out to each of you for a happy holiday season, and I eagerly look forward to sharing 2013 with you.
Taking the long view
As the clock ticks down to 1 July, we are in the final stages of preparing for the full rollout of the Future Vision Plan. Our goal is simple: enabling our Foundation to continue Doing Good in the World, and ensuring that we make the best use of every dollar, euro, yen, and peso that we have.
In everything we do in Rotary, we strive for the greatest impact. This means focusing on sustainability – on projects whose effects will go on for years, and on work that will continue to change lives even after Rotarians’ involvement has ended. When polio is eradicated, every child who will ever be born will benefit, long after the last drop of vaccine has been put into a child’s mouth. PolioPlus is, of course, a unique Rotary program – but it is time to bring that kind of long-term perspective to all our service.
Part of our goal in Future Vision is making sure that we focus on the long view in everything we do. Accordingly, part of that mindset is making sure that we make it a priority to support The Rotary Foundation and its Annual Fund. Our goal is Every Rotarian, Every Year: for every Rotarian to give a gift each year to the Annual Fund, with an average donation of US$100. Meeting that goal would mean $120 million per year for Rotary service . It would also mean an organization in which every single member is supporting, and is invested in, the Foundation’s success – making The Rotary Foundation truly Our Foundation.
A new approach to vocational service and training
In 2013, all districts will have the opportunity to support vocational training teams (VTTs) with Rotary Foundation grants. These teams of Rotarian and non-Rotarian professionals will travel abroad to meet a humanitarian need, either by teaching local professionals about a particular field or learning more themselves.
VTTs, like Group Study Exchanges (GSEs), can be sponsored by district grants, which have no area of focus requirements. Districts 6200 and 9600 used district grants to organize a VTT exchange dealing with the environmental impact of oil spills. VTTs can also be sponsored by global grants.
Some districts have expressed disappointment that the Foundation will no longer support the GSE program. However, many districts have had difficulty finding professionals who meet the program requirements, forcing the Foundation to grant dozens of exceptions to the GSE guidelines every year. Under Future Vision, districts can still sponsor such activities through district grants and search for partners on the District Grant VTT Partner Forum on LinkedIn.
Unlike GSEs, VTTs have no restrictions on participant age or length of training. They also offer an opportunity for the hands-on activity with lasting impact that many GSE participants have requested. The GSE program established the Foundation’s commitment to vocational training; VTTs are taking that commitment to a new, more dynamic level.
I encourage every district to take advantage of the humanitarian service that can be generated by a VTT, once Future Vision is fully introduced on 1 July. This doesn’t mean that your Foundation won’t allow GSE teams. They will still be funded, but with the money allocated to the district, and only when the district committee feels that it will be a meaningful exchange.
Highlight our Foundation’s good work
In July, I outlined the goals that your Rotary Foundation has set for 2012-13. In August, I emphasized that while it is essential to have goals, we can’t achieve them without a plan.
Many clubs and districts are off to a flying start and have both goals and a plan, and I offer them my sincere congratulations. However, nearly 50 years of experience in Rotary suggests to me that a much greater number are only starting to plan now. I would like to offer some ideas.
Every club should have a meeting that highlights the good work that our Foundation is doing. Perhaps it is a report on a recent Matching Grant project, Group Study Exchange, or vocational training team, or a talk by a former Rotary Peace Fellow or Ambassadorial Scholar. Perhaps Rotarians in your club or district have participated in a National Immunization Day and have seen firsthand the work to End Polio Now.
After you have made the case for our Foundation’s work all over the world, it is essential that you ask for both physical and financial support. How about discussing local Foundation projects? Inviting every member to contribute? Inviting non-members to contribute? Presenting the opportunity to become Paul Harris Fellows, Major Donors, and Bequest Society members? Perhaps your meeting on the Foundation will be so effective, it will inspire an individual to become a member of the Arch C. Klumph Society.
My request is that every Rotarian do something, and more important, encourage others to do something.
The world needs Rotary, but Rotary needs like-minded people to join us as we continue Doing Good in the World.
To achieve our goals, we need every Rotarian
At the RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, in May, I spoke about The Rotary Foundation’s five important goals for this year. Goals that require great efforts, not only by the leadership of Rotary, such as club presidents, district governors, RI directors, and Foundation trustees, but by all 1.2 million Rotarians, everywhere in the world – including the ones who couldn’t attend the convention.
The Foundation will achieve our monetary goal only if every Rotarian, and every club, contributes something this Rotary year. And we will be successful in rolling out our Future Vision Plan worldwide only if every district, working with the regional Rotary Foundation coordinators and district officers, provides the recommended structure and training that will result in a stronger and more cost-effective way of Doing Good in the World.
With a more efficient Foundation, we will support the goal of RI President Sakuji Tanaka to build Peace Through Service . We will do this while we plan for the introduction of stewardship safeguards, particularly for District Designated Fund spending.
No goal is ever achieved without a plan. Your club and district should already have a plan in place for achieving your goals for 2012-13, and now is the time to put it into action. To reach our goals, every Rotarian, club, and district should participate in The Rotary Foundation, whether by carrying out a Foundation grant project, telling others about the good work that Rotary accomplishes every day, or raising funds to support our educational and humanitarian efforts. I urge every Rotarian to commit today to achieve Rotary’s 2012-13 goals. We can do it. We will do it, but only if every Rotarian in the world plays his or her part.
So, Rotarians, let’s get started.
Our goals for the year
Accepting the leadership of The Rotary Foundation after my predecessors – in particular, Past RI President Bill Boyd – did such a great job is a challenge. Oh, it’s not that I don’t know about the job. You can’t have been a Rotarian for 50 years without knowing and loving the work that our Foundation has done, is doing, and will do.
I know it all comes down to three things: raising money, investing money wisely, and spending money effectively. However, if the trustees and I are to have a truly significant year, we must have a plan, and every district, club, and individual Rotarian needs to be part of that plan. We have five goals:
1. Eradicate polio.
2. Train districts and clubs for the global launch of the Future Vision Plan on 1 July 2013.
3. Assist RI President Sakuji Tanaka in his quest to achieve Peace Through Service . The successful projects and programs of our Foundation are what will bring about that peace.
4. Encourage every Rotarian and every club in the world to become immensely proud of our Foundation by giving something to the Annual Fund. The amount isn’t as important as the giving, but by setting a reasonable target of at least an average of US$100 per member, we will see our annual giving and our service grow to record levels.
5. Ensure that districts and clubs introduce stewardship policies that will complement the opportunities they will have to decide on and undertake humanitarian projects under the Future Vision Plan. This will make Rotary more visible and more attractive to members.
I know these goals may be easy for some and quite challenging for others, but accepted with enthusiasm and confidence, they can only, in the words of Past RI President Ray Klinginsmith, make Rotary bigger, better, and bolder.
Wilfrid J. Wilkinson
Foundation Trustee Chair