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

The Rotary Foundation is organised as
a separate corporation within Rotary International for legal and tax liability reasons. Because it attracts support from Rotarians and clubs around the world, its component programs tend to become extremely visible, with great potential to capture public attention.

The Foundation has the ability to review, organise and implement international programs of major humane benefit at minimal administrative cost. The Rotary Foundation was begun in 1917 by Arch Klumph, sixth international president of Rotary. He convinced a Rotary convention of the need for an endowment for "doing good in the world".

The proposal was successful and the fund became a reality with the receipt of its
first contribution of $26.50. In 1928, The Rotary Foundation was further strengthened by the appointment of the first Board of Trustees.

At the death of Rotary's founder, Paul Harris in 1947, Rotarians around the world made gifts to The Foundation in his memory and in the following year the first program providing graduate scholarships for overseas study was introduced.

The Rotary Foundation now funds each year:
• Scholarships for undergraduate students.
• Group Study Exchanges.
• International humanitarian projects through a range of grant programs.
• Immunisation activities which will eradicate polio.
• Rotary peace programs.

Funds are raised at the district and club levels for the Annual Programs Fund.

These funds are
invested for three years and then distributed under the SHARE system, which allocates 50 per cent for District Designated Fund (DDF) programs, whilst 50 per cent goes to the World Fund to support international projects.

In 1994 The Australian Rotary Foundation Trust was established to allow tax deductibility for donations to The Rotary Foundation by individuals and corporations of $2 and over.


In 2008, The Rotary Foundation Trustees and the RI Board adopted the Future Vision Plan in an effort to streamline Foundation operations, give Rotarians greater access to Foundation funds, and better position the Foundation to take advantage of new opportunities and meet future challenges.

When the plan goes into effect worldwide in July 2013, all current Foundation programs will be re-structured, with the exception of PolioPlus and the Rotary Centres for International Studies. Under the plan’s new grant-making model, two types of grants will be offered: Rotary Foundation District Grants and Rotary Foundation Global Grants.

These grant types can be used to fund most of the activities currently supported by Foundation programs.

District grants are block grants similar to the current District Simplified Grants. Districts will be able to use up to 50 percent of their District Designated Funds (DDF) for district grants, up from 20 percent under the current model.

Rotary Foundation Global Grants support larger, international projects with sustainable, high-impact outcomes in one of six areas of focus that correspond to the Foundation’s mission: Peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

There are two types of global grants: club- and- district-developed global grants funded by DDF or cash contributions and matching funds from the Foundation and packaged global grants that are developed and funded in total by the Foundation and/or a strategic partner organization.

In July 2010, the Foundation launched the three-year Future Vision Pilot, during which 100 districts representing all parts of the Rotary world will test the new grant-making model. Based on feedback from the pilot districts, adjustments will be made to the plan before it is launched worldwide in July 2013.