PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE GIVING
In the summer of 1917, only a few months
after the United States entered World War I,
Rotary held its eighth annual convention in
Atlanta, Georgia. Although many Rotarians
at the time felt the convention should be
canceled, the Board of Directors ultimately
agreed with Paul Harris that it should
continue as planned. In the midst of such
uncertainty and fear, Harris penned, as part
of his convention greeting, some of the
most-quoted words in Rotary:
Individual effort when well directed can accomplish much, but the
greatest good must necessarily come from the combined efforts of
many men. Individual effort may be turned to individual needs but
combined effort should be dedicated to the service of mankind.
The power of combined effort knows no limitation.
Fittingly, it was at this convention that then-President Arch C. Klumph
proposed the idea of a Rotary endowment fund “for the purpose of
doing good in the world.” The power of combined effort was joined
by a new power: that of combined resources. It was a combination
that has proved unstoppable, and that has been behind so much of
Rotary’s work for the last 100 years.
What started with a $26.50 donation has grown into a foundation
that has spent over $3 billion on programs and projects to make a
difference throughout the world. We will continue to make great
strides toward our goal of polio eradication, to grow our membership
base, and to show the public that Rotary is made up of dedicated
individuals who work together to accomplish great things.
Our celebrations this Rotary year will culminate in the city where it all
began: Atlanta. Our 108th Rotary International Convention promises
to be one of the most exciting yet, with inspiring speakers, great
entertainment, and a wide array of breakout sessions to help you
move your Rotary service forward. And of course, we’ll be celebrating
the Foundation’s centennial in style.
The Rotary Foundation is critical to all that we do and all that we
hope to do. We’ve done so much good in the first 100 years of our
Foundation, imagine what we can do in another 100.
It’s widely acknowledged in the
fundraising field that younger
people are less likely to give and,
when they do, likely to give less.
The source of only about 11 percent
of U. S. charitable dollars spent in
a given year, people born between
1981 and 1995 offer a lower return
on investment for fundraising
efforts than their elders.
The problem isn’t a lack of civic
engagement. A recent focus
group conducted with millennial
alumni of Rotary programs, for
example, showed strong interest
and engagement with Rotary and
other nonprofits, and a desire to
contribute to high-impact projects
with tangible results.
Insights offered by the focus group
participants can help you cultivate
and retain young donors:
Donating to a big
organization feels like
“it’s just going to buy
paper in someone’s
office.” Focus on projects and
impact rather than endowments
and administrative costs, and tell
specific stories about the good
that even a small gift can do in
one of our areas of focus or for
Donating online or
can feel like a “black
hole.” Younger donors
emphasize trust and transparency
in their decisions about money.
Rotary has an advantage as an
established charity with powerful
ties and top rankings from Charity
Navigator and media outlets.
Direct mail? “I just put
it in my junk-mail pile.”
Even more passé than
brochures are outdated
web pages and stagnant social
media profiles, even though Google
and Facebook searches guide most
interactions and transactions these
days. Make a real effort to keep
your web presence up-to-date and
engaging so prospective donors
can find you and will be inspired to
JOHN F. GERM
Keep in mind that social media alone isn’t enough to reach
young people. The best way to build relationships is to
provide opportunities for meaningful offline engagement,
such as networking, committees, and hands-on service
projects with peers.
Young people are more likely to show
up (and bring friends) than to donate,
and more likely to donate to
organizations they know.