3 November 2014 — Rotary Foundation History


Did anyone notice wet stuff dripping from the sky on Friday? Was that rain? Notwithstanding the weather forecast for 90 degrees and clear skies in the Greater San Fernando Valley this week, I do believe the weather may finally be changing. Personally, I was so happy to wear long sleeves for the first time in months!

Now, at the beginning of November, the Rotary E-Club of the Greater San Fernando Valley kicks off a couple of important themes. First, the Rotary International theme for November is The Rotary Foundation, or TRF, as it is commonly known to Rotarians worldwide. In keeping with the theme of Foundation month, our program this week is a brief history of The Rotary Foundation. This Club and its members are strong supporters of TRF, most notably through our Dance for The Children fundraiser for PolioPlus. Other projects funded by donations to TRF include the Annual Fund, which sustains thousands of projects in the local communities worldwide; and funds that support any one or more of Rotary’s top priorities such as Promoting Peace, Fighting Disease, Providing Clean Water, Saving Mothers and Children, Supporting Education and Growing Local Economies. At this time of year we are often inundated by solicitations from various charities. The Rotary Foundation offers so many options for directing individual donations to support different projects. Please consider donating at least a portion of your annual charitable contributions to one or more of the Funds supported by The Rotary Foundation. (https://www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/take-action/give)

The other important theme recognized by the Rotary E-Club of the Greater San Fernando Valley, is our own monthly E-wareness campaign, which this month will focus on Bone Marrow & Blood Cancers, and will be led by our own President-elect, Roy Glickman. Throughout the month, Roy will provide information and resources to learn more about this important health issue. As the E-wareness campaign progresses during the month, updates and links will be provided. And updates may be found on the Rotary E-Club website, by clicking on “E-wareness” in the Links menu on the right side of the page. (http://www.rotaryeclubgreatersfv.org/projects/rotary-e-club-e-wareness/)

Linda Catran
President, 2014-2015


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10 — 6:15pm  — Club Board of Directors Meeting, The Fireplace Room at Denny’s. All Club Members always welcome.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16 — 10:00pm to 4:00pm — The next ONE MORE ITEM FOOD DRIVE, in support of Valley Food Bank, at Gelson’s in Sherman Oaks.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23 — 12:30pm to 2:00pm — Our FOURTH SUNDAY meeting for November! Our special guest speaker is Carolina Sheinfeld, a former Rotary Peace Scholar who serves as Project Coordinator at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ Torture Survivors Project.  The Peace Scholars program is a signature effort of The Rotary Foundation,  We gather in The Fireplace Room at Denny’s, 5525 Sepulveda Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.





This month’s Rotary E-Club E-wareness campaign presents information about bone marrow donation.  Throughout the month our Club will provide resources gathered by our Club Member Roy Glickman, this month’s coordinator.  The information will be helpful to you and to the people you care about.  See the campaign by clicking here.









November is Rotary Foundation Month on Rotary International’s calendar of themes. This week we bring you a brief history of The Rotary Foundation, excerpted from Chapter 10 of “A Century of Service: The History of Rotary International” by David C. Forward in 2003. [Editor’s note: at the time, that was 98 years of service, not 100, but nobody’s perfect.] [Editor’s additional note: excerpts used by permission of the author.]

It was all Arch Klumph’s idea. As RI president in 1917, he told delegates to the Atlanta convention, “Carrying on as we are, a miscellaneous community service, it seems eminently proper that we should accept endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world.” It was hardly a stirring call to action or a motivational moment for those present. But it was the first pebble in what would later become a landslide of support that would improve millions of lives. And as happened so many times before in Rotary, it began in the mind of one man.

In his final address as club president [in 1912-1913], Klumph suggested “an emergency fund should be built up which will enable the club in future years to do many things.” He went on to become chairman of the committee that wrote the new constitution for Rotary International, and it was his idea to divide Rotary into districts, create the office of district governor, and establish the annual district conference. But he never forgot his concept of a fund to expand the good works of Rotary.


The Rotary Endowment Fund, as it was called at first, came to Klumph as “a vision, a little inspiration all of a sudden one day that the organization was peculiarly adapted to the purpose of accepting endowments to do great things.” The RI Board approved his idea but did not provide a mechanism to fund it. Indeed, for the next decade, Rotary’s leaders went along with Klumph’s proposal, but without any tangible action or enthusiasm.

As Klumph’s [Club] presidential term wound down, the Rotary Club of Kansas City, Missouri, collected contributions for a gift for the retiring association president. When the club closed out that account, they discovered a surplus of $26.50 and decided to donate that money to start the Rotary Endowment Fund. The first seeds had been sown for the fund known today as The Rotary Foundation of RI.

Over the next several years, Klumph pressed the association to activate the endowment fund to help develop new Rotary clubs and provide humanitarian relief. But after six years, the fund balance stagnated at a paltry $700.

In 1928, delegates to the Minneapolis convention changed the fund’s name to The Rotary Foundation. This change in the RI Constitution stipulated that a board of five trustees—all past RI presidents—should govern the new Foundation and that funds should be kept separately from the parent organization. Contributions started to come in; four years later, there was $50,000 in the bank.

After the stock market crash of 1929, donations to good causes dried up. It was then that Paul Harris asked The Rotary Foundation to make its first donation; and it sent a $500 check to the International Society for Crippled Children, whose own work had begun in 1919 as the inspiration of Rotarian Edgar F. Daddy” Allen of Elyria, Ohio, USA.

Paul Harris, front center, one hand over the other, in 1922 with some of the founders of the International Society for Crippled Children.

Paul Harris, front center, one hand over the other, in 1922 with some of the founders of the International Society for Crippled Children.



The 1937 RI Board announced plans for a $2 million fundraising goal for The Rotary Foundation, and it looked as if Arch Klumph’s vision would finally be realized. The outbreak of World War II dashed those hopes again, but the tragedy of war made Rotarians reflect more seriously on the Foundation’s potential for peacemaking. Ches Perry, who had retired as general secretary in 1942, used the pseudonym Perry Reynolds to pen an April 1944 article in The Rotarian urging members to donate to the Foundation in addition to their normal Rotary dues. “An additional contribution of $5 a year by each Rotarian for the next two years would give Rotary International an endowment of two million dollars and make its Foundation an instrument of great good in the postwar period,” he reasoned.

When the war ended in 1945, Rotary rewrote its objectives for The Rotary Foundation:

“1. The promotion of Rotary Foundation Fellowships for advanced study;

2. The fostering of any tangible and effective projects which have as their purpose the furthering of better understanding and friendly relations between the peoples of different nations; and

3. The providing of emergency relief for Rotarians and their families wherever war or other disaster has brought general destruction and suffering.”

In 1947, when Paul Harris died, RI asked that individuals and clubs wishing to honor the founder make gifts in his name to The Rotary Foundation, suggesting $10 per member.

Money poured in from all over the world. Thus, in the first year after Harris’s death, the Foundation granted 18 Rotary Foundation Fellowships—later called Ambassadorial Scholarships— for one year’s university study abroad.

By 1948, contributions had exceeded $1,775,000; in addition to granting study fellowships to 37 students from 12 countries, The Rotary Foundation allocated $15,000 for war-relief assistance to 150 families. By 1954, the Foundation had collected $3.5 million—and new contributions reached $500,000 in a single year. In 1955, Rotary’s 50th anniversary year, it awarded scholarships to 494 young men and women from 57 countries.

The Rotary Foundation had quickly become the successful program that Arch Klumph had long predicted. In 1956, the RI Board urged clubs to give further emphasis to the Foundation during The Rotary Foundation Week, which they decreed be held in mid-November each year. The Secretariat suggested that clubs and districts plan programs publicizing the Foundation during that week, and their efforts were so successful that in 1982 the Trustees changed it to The Rotary Foundation Month, still observed every November.

This ongoing desire to honor Rotary’s founder by making gifts to the Foundation spurred one of the most significant ideas in its history. By 1957, a decade after Paul’s death, donations had begun to decline. The Trustees announced that anyone who contributed $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation would become a Paul Harris Fellow. Paul Harris Fellows were presented with a plaque, medallion, and lapel pin, all bearing the founder’s likeness. In 1968, the Trustees added a category called Sustaining Member for those who could not give the entire $1,000 at one time but pledged to give $100 annually. When they attained the $1,000, they became Paul Harris Fellows.








Allison G. Brush, a past RI director from Laurel, Mississippi, USA, was the first Paul Harris Fellow. The second was Rufus F. Chapin, one of the 1905 Chicago members who became the longtime treasurer of Rotary International. By 1984 there were 100,000 Paul Harris Fellows, a number that swelled to 250,000 in 1989 and 500,000 by 1995.

“Let there be peace on earth … ”

When the New Horizons Committee met in 1982 to chart a strategic long-term plan for Rotary, it adopted an idea suggested by the World Understanding and Peace Committee to initiate Rotary Peace Forums. These conclaves began convening twice annually in various world cities under the auspices of the Foundation. The Trustees soon changed the name to the Rotary Peace Program, and so began the series of educational seminars focused on such issues as the environment, economic development, conflict resolution, and peacemaking.

As the 21st century dawned, Rotarians realized that their commitment to aid the cause of peace was needed more than ever. Looking ahead, The Rotary Foundation launched a significant and proactive peace initiative: the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution. The Rotary Centers offer individuals who are committed to peace and cooperation the opportunity to pursue a fully funded, two-year master’s-level degree or certificate in a field such as international studies, peace studies, or conflict resolution.

To implement the academic programs, Rotary has partnered with the Universidad del Salvador (Buenos Aires, Argentina), University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia), University of Bradford (West Yorkshire, England), Sciences Po (Paris, France), International Christian University (Tokyo, Japan), University of California, Berkeley (California, USA), and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University (North Carolina, USA).  [Editor’s note: the Berkeley, Buenos Aires, and Paris centers are no longer in play; Uppsala University in Sweden has been added, and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand has been added with a certificate program.]



The first class in 2002 included 70 scholars from 35 countries, most of whom spoke at least three languages. Starting in 2004 and every year thereafter, 70 young men and women will graduate with the philosophy, education, and practical tools needed to effectively influence future international relations, working for organizations such as the United Nations, European Union, and World Bank, their government’s diplomatic corps, and nongovernmental organizations and multinational corporations. In a decade, 700 people will be working in positions of influence, each trained and committed to reduce conflict and resolve disputes peacefully.


The Rotary Foundation has been so effective because it matches money with people. In the words of Arch Klumph:

“Money alone does little good.

Individual service is helpless without money.

The two together can be a Godsend to civilization.”

Writing to Klumph in 1934, Paul Harris mused: “I have a feeling that we shall some day suddenly, and perhaps without any particular effort on our part other than the effort which you have been giving the movement for years, find ourselves with something of real importance.”

The words, penned at a time when support for The Rotary Foundation was scarce, were prescient indeed. Klumph died in 1951, when The Rotary Foundation was already becoming a significant force for good. But could even Arch Klumph have imagined the immense reach and scope of the idea he considered “a little inspiration?”


The opinions expressed by guest speakers, or in advertisements that appear on external websites linked to this program, are those of the speaker(s)/websites/advertisers and not necessarily of the Rotary E-Club of The Greater San Fernando Valley or its members. No endorsement is implied. Programs are presented for informational purposes only.


1 response to 3 November 2014 — Rotary Foundation History

  1. No doubt I bring a personal bias (and perhaps a little baggage) with me, but to my way of thinking, there are few forces for Good in this world that are as efficient and effective as the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International (TRF). As a Foundation staffer in the 80s and 90s, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand so many different projects funded by TRF as I traveled on the Foundation’s behalf. While everyone in Rotary is aware, at least on some level, of large, well-promoted programs such as PolioPlus and scholarships, it is for me in the small projects and efforts in communities throughout the world where Rotary and TRF truly shine. It is in the eyes of a child I met at an orphanage in La Misión, Baja California, who could not speak a world of English, but could point at the giant Rotary wheel on the side of the school building Rotarians from Tijuana had built there, then point at me and give me a hug. It is in the eyes of mothers in the Philippines whose children no longer go to bed hungry and malnourished because of the combined efforts of Rotarians in California and the Philippines to provided clean drinking water and spiralina nutritional supplements. It is in the isolated communities of the African continent, Haiti, Fiji, and Iran, where WAPIs built by Interactors and Rotarians make sure that no one need worry about whether their water and milk have been safely pasteurized before their neighbors drink or cook with it.

    What is the Rotary Foundation? It is the Heart and Soul of Rotary.

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