The Rotary Foundation

The mission of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

When Rotary President Arch Klumph made his suggestion in 1917 that Rotary create an endowment fund “for the purpose of doing good in the world,” chances are few people in the Atlanta convention hall remembered his words. In keeping with the traditions of the day, Arch spoke for about 40 minutes, focusing mainly on the war that was raging in Europe.

Fortunately, his idea did catch the attention of the Rotary Club of Kansas City, Missouri, USA, which donated $26.50 to “be deposited to the Endowment Fund suggested by President Klumph.” That small contribution — about $536 in today’s dollars — did not inspire an influx of others, but it helped to establish an endowment fund. It also set Arch Klumph off on a lifelong mission to build a powerful force for good that officially became The Rotary Foundation in 1928.

Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, Rotarians were preoccupied with keeping their businesses afloat and aiding in the war effort. However, when Rotary founder Paul Harris died in 1947, The Rotary Foundation received contributions of $1.3 million in his honor. Finally, the resources were available to make Arch Klumph’s vision a reality, and the first class of Rotary Scholars set off to study abroad and act as goodwill representatives for their homelands.

During the 70 years since, The Rotary Foundation has grown tremendously in both assets and programs. It has extended its reach to every part of the world, and expanded its scope to include large and small projects that address the most pressing problems — all made possible through the growing generosity of Rotarians. The increased financial resources have enabled our Foundation to take on larger projects with greater impact — from developing countrywide literacy programs to training tomorrow’s peacemakers to helping bring polio to the brink of eradication.

Rotary's involvement in the eradication of Polio is an ongoing program, where along with the "Gates Foundation" and its wonderful sponsorship looks like we will bring about the end to this scourge on modern civilisation and be free by the end of 2019.

Arch Klumph once noted that “The Rotary Foundation is not to build monuments of brick and stone.” Instead, he envisioned a growing, evolving entity that would be fueled by the active support and participation of all Rotarian's. Throughout 2016-17, Rotarian's worldwide will celebrate Arch Klumph’s vision and the many thousands of Rotarians who have made that vision a reality.