Rotary Foundation

What does Foundation mean to you?

Have you ever asked yourself the question "What does The Rotary Foundation mean to me?" 

If the answer is “Yes” then please spend a few minutes looking at this presentation which covers: 

  • What is The Rotary Foundation?
  • What does it do?
  • Why should we support it?
  • How can we support it?

Click here to view the presentation “What is The Rotary Foundation?”

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


The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotary members and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world. This support is essential to make possible projects, funded with Foundation grants, that bring sustainable improvement to communities in need.


Since it was founded more than 100 years ago, the Foundation has spent more than $4 billion on life-changing, sustainable projects.


The Foundation is widely recognised as being in The Top Five for Best Value Charity Giving, and it celebrated its first 100 years in 2017. 

With your help, we can make lives better in your community and around the world.

Rotary Foundation History

At the 1917 Rotary Convention in Atlanta, RI President, Arch C Klumph proposed that an endowment be set up “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” In 1928, it was renamed ‘The Rotary Foundation’ – Rotary’s first and only charity, and it became a distinct entity within Rotary International

In 1929 the Foundation made its first gift of $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children, to help tackle polio. This was a forerunner of Polio Plus, and illustrates Rotary's commitment towards ameliorating the impact of Polio for nearly a Century. The programme of vaccination and eradication of polio since the 1980s is but a logical progression of Rotary's commitment.

When Rotary founder Paul Harris died in 1947, contributions began pouring in to Rotary International, and the Paul Harris Memorial Fund was created to build the Foundation.

Since the first donation of $26.50 in 1917, the Foundation has received contributions totalling more than $1 billion and has supported more than $3 billion worth of charitable programmes and action due to its three-year investment policy.

Rotary's involvement with polio was extended in 1979 in the Philippines, with a 3H Grant which addressed Health, Hunger and Humanity. The aim here was to eradicate polio through an immunisation programme in the southern world. At that time a handful of Rotarians sought to rid one tiny part of the world of this crippling disease, which was endemic in much of the rest of the world.

The World Health Organisation was so impressed with the power of Rotary, when we raised $247 million in the mid 1980's to extend the polio eradication beyond the Philippines, that it joined in partnership with Rotary to launch the largest public health initiative in history.

Today, almost 100 years since we started the fight against polio, we have isolated the tiny pockets of polio outbreak in just two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the rest of the world polio free. That is an incredible reversal of the situation.

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Rotary Foundation pages:

Rotary Foundation Newsletters

more Keep up to date on the latest information

Applying for a Grant

more Many changes have been made to the process for applying for grants, especially for District Grants. (2 pages below this)

End Polio Now

more Since 1985, Rotary’s key humanitarian priority has been to rid the world of polio. (2 pages below this)

Promoting Peace

more Today, over 70 million people are displaced as a result of conflict, violence, persecution, and human rights violations. Half of them are children. (4 pages below this)

The Rotary Foundation

more The March issue of Rotary magazine is devoted almost entirely to The Rotary Foundation

Giving to our Rotary Foundation

more Many clubs make donations to The Rotary Foundation, as do many individual Rotarians (1 page below this)

Rotary Areas of Focus

more The seven areas of Rotary focus that form the framework for grants.