Rotarians around the world are usually encouraged to contribute to, and participate in, The Rotary Foundation (TRF) in furtherance of the mission of TRF which is to “do good in the world” on a sustainable basis. The Rotary Foundation was founded in 1917 as the nonprofit arm of Rotary International.
With an Endowment Fund that is close to $1.7 billion and regular flow of Annual Funds yearly, TRF has continued to do good in the world by funding life changing and impactful projects. By 2025, the target is for the Fund to grow to $2.025 billion but if Rotarians do not make regular contributions, the Fund will not grow. It’s a commitment we all have to make by also inviting family members and friends to support the Foundation.
We now live in a world full of complexities largely driven by globalisation and rapidly changing technologies. As Rotarians, we are minded to follow the global trend of events, constantly innovate by thinking out of the box and make interventions where necessary. For example, no one prepared for Covid-19 pandemic, a major public health crisis that threatened our common humanity.
What of the global economic recession or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? These events are significant in scope and impact around the world with far reaching consequences such as the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the rising cost of goods and services.
Over 1.4 million Rotarians build great connections through exciting fellowships in more than 35,000 Rotary clubs around the world. As “people of action” with a shared responsibility to solve the world’s pressing problems, we come together to promote peace, fight diseases, grow economies, support education, provide clean water, save mothers and children as well as protect the environment – these are the seven areas of focus of Rotary.
When the Change Maker District Governor of Rotary International District 9110 covering Lagos and Ogun states, Remi Bello, FCA, constituted The District Rotary Foundation Fund Raising Committee and invited Niyi Adelaja, a past president of the Rotary Club of Ikeja, to serve as Chairman, it was an excellent choice because the DG knew what he wanted.
With the right motivation from the District Governor, Adelaja, whose stock of goodwill and network of friends are legendary, rallied members of his committee in more than 10 meetings to plan and execute what turned out to be a high profile event at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos on Saturday February 19, 2022. To the best of my knowledge, Adelaja is a first-class engagement Rotarian.
The District organised The Rotary Foundation Fund Raising Dinner using a completely different but creative approach. The new model ensured that payments by Rotarians and non-Rotarians for tickets to the event and adverts in the programme booklet denominated in US Dollars were paid directly into the TRF account of each contributor.
It was a win-win scenario for such contributors – there was no separate entry fee for the event while at the same time building up TRF contribution history. This innovation encouraged Rotarians to pay TRF and book their seats at the gala nite. According to Adelaja, the expenses incurred for the gala dinner were defrayed through individual support by members of his committee, friends and associates of members of the committee and the District. Nigerian Breweries Plc and International Breweries Plc also supported the gala nite with their wide range of drinks.
Another remarkable thing Adelaja did was to purchase 26 tickets at $250 each for members of his home club, the Rotary Club of Ikeja. It was an IOU which was eventually redeemed. Adelaja believes strongly that the TRF dinner should achieve two objectives: encourage contribution to TRF in a convivial atmosphere and use the platform to attract quality people into Rotary. More than 300 guests attended the gala nite. Apart from the Doyen, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, 22 Past District Governors and other Rotary leaders were in attendance.
To encourage Rotarians, three categories were created for the fund raiser. There were tickets for $250 (Silver category), $500 (Gold category) and $1,000 or more (Platinum category) for sale. As Adelaja also disclosed during a telephone interview, there were more subscriptions for $1,000 mainly by Rotarians who wanted to become Paul Harris Fellows. However, the amount paid determined the privileges enjoyed by Rotarians and their guests for each category – including the assortment of drinks that were served and seating position at the venue.
DG Remi Bello thanked Adelaja and members of his committee for their resourcefulness and remarkable performance. During his speech, he praised them for their selflessness and commitment. Apart from their individual support, members of the committee also mobilised external support with the donation of food and drinks.
The event had Rotary InternationaI Endowment and Major Gifts Advisor and “Passion Queen”, past district governor Ijeoma Pearl Okoro of District 9141, as the Guest Speaker and Fund Raiser. She displayed great skills as a spectacular fund raiser. About $150,000 was realised at the TRF gala nite – a significant achievement and record breaking feat in District 9110.
District Governor Remi Bello also appreciated Rotarians in the District for their trust and confidence in the ability of the District leadership to be innovative on the one hand, and for embracing the new model that could redefine how subsequent TRF Fund Raising Dinners are organised going forward on the other.
There are three ways of contributing to TRF. They are the Annual Fund, Polio Plus Fund and Endowment and Major Gifts (EMG). Under the Annual Fund, Rotarians can give $1,000 to become Paul Harris Fellows (PHF) or Paul Harris Society (PHS) member through a recurring PHF by contributing $1,000 every year.
There’s also Every Rotarian Every Year (EREY) where Rotarians are encouraged to contribute $100 to TRF annually. You can become a Major Donor by an outright payment of $10,000 or through cumulative contribution of $10,000 over a period determined by the contributor – whichever is convenient.
It is evident that contribution to TRF is not mandatory for Rotarians. However, the various Annual Fund options explained above clearly acknowledge that all the five fingers are not equal. The flexibility underscores the need for Rotarians and non-Rotarians to support TRF according to their respective financial and giving abilities.
Our contributions to the Polio Plus Fund have also been significant with outstanding results. A contribution of $10 is the minimum expected by every Rotarian to save a child from paralysis. It is important that we highlight the work Rotary and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have been doing to end polio, a paralysing and life threatening disease caused by the poliovirus that most commonly affects children under the age of five.
The virus spreads from person to person typically through contaminated water and it can attack the nervous system, affecting the spinal cord. According to available information on Rotary International’s website, Rotary has been working for more than 35 years to eradicate polio and as a founding partner of GPEI, polio cases have been reduced by 99.9 percent since Rotary’s first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979.
Rotary members have contributed more than $2.1 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect nearly three billion children in 122 counties from this paralyzing disease. Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by governments to contribute more than $10 billion to the effort.
Today, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan after Nigeria was declared polio-free two years ago by the World Health Organisation. For every one dollar Rotary spends on polio eradication, there is a corresponding match of two dollars by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In the Endowment and Major Gifts (EMG) category, you can choose to become a “Benefactor”, “Bequest Society” member or “Arch Klumph Society” (AKS) member. When you include the Endowment Fund as a beneficiary of $1,000 or more in your estate plans or when you contribute $1,000 or more to the fund outright, you become a “Benefactor” and you will receive a certificate and insignia from TRF to wear with a Rotary or PHF pin.
When you make a commitment for future gifts of $10,000 or more to TRF, you will be invited to join the “Bequest Society” and they can be Rotarians, family members and friends. Membership of the “Arch Klumph Society” is life-long and granted to contributors who reach cumulative or outright contributions of $250,000 or more to TRF. Payments can be made through cash, securities, real estate, and life income agreements.
Although contributions in the different categories are denominated in US dollars because Rotary is in over 200 countries and territories of the world, payments are made in Naira to the designated District TRF bank account.
There are over 530 Rotary districts in the world with 17 Districts in Africa (Zone 22) but Nigeria alone has four districts.
-Braimah is a public relations strategist, publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://naijatimes.ng) and District Secretary (2021-22), Rotary International District 9110