The Rotary Foundation by Jackie Barnes
Posted By Brad Walker
Club members both new and old often ask about the Rotary Foundation: how does it work, who is Paul Harris and what does it mean to be a Paul Harris Fellow or to be in the Paul Harris Society? And why does all of this matter?
As club chair for the Rotary Foundation and District Grants, Jackie has also been a Paul Harris Society member for many years and thus enthusiastically supports Rotary International’s Foundation. Basically, the Foundation is the tool by which Rotary International has been doing very good things since 1917, more than 100 years.
What kind of good? Helping crippled children by ending polio; creating six Peace Centers around the world, including the one shared by UNC-Duke University; promoting international study since WWII, sponsoring group study exchanges that focus on vocational training; distributing project grants that help support efforts for clean water; maternal and children’s health; education, economics, and many more. Jackie shared the short video A Century of Doing Good in the World which provides background as well as illustrates just how much Rotary has improved lives around the world, as well as at home, for a long time.
As a not-for-profit organization, Rotary International consistently receives a five-star rating–the highest rating– from Charity Navigator, which evaluates how well charities actually support their mission. Jackie stressed that ALL funds for ALL projects are generated solely by voluntary contributions to the Foundation by members such as ourselves, plus friends of Rotary, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which matches 2 to 1 Rotary’s Polio Plus project.
How does Rotary obtain and use our voluntary contributions? One motto, “Every Rotarian, Every Year,” applies to all Rotarians who are expected to give at least $100 annually. For our club, a $25 donation appears on each quarterly statement, Jackie noted. Regardless of the amount, Rotary invests all donations for three years, earning interest. After that point, half of the total amount donated by an individual District, such as our own D7710, will come back to the district and is used for district-inspired projects.
As is true with other clubs, the Rotary Club of Wake Forest has its own Foundation to be used for local projects that each year’s Board of Directors agrees to support, such as high school scholarships, Boys and Girls Club, Lake Waccamaw Cottage, Launch Wake Forest/Rolesville, and others. The projects can change from year to year, depending on budget and new proposals. Donations specifically to our club Foundation are also tax-deductible.
To be a Paul Harris Fellow, one must have given $1,000; to be a Paul Harris Society member, one would give $1,000 annually which Jackie does via automatic monthly debit of $85. “It’s so easy and so important,” she said. “It makes you feel good to know that you’re doing so much good around the world.” Here’s one more video she shared, One Upon a Time, which conveys some of that good feeling.