Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation is Rotary's own charity, enabling Rotarians and their partners to achieve sustainable solutions to global problems.



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. 

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.

Rotary Foundation News – February 2021

This has perhaps been the most turbulent year of this generation — we faced a global health crisis, natural disasters, and economic turmoil all at the same time and the whole world was affected.  Through it all, Rotary has stood tall. We have heard stories of some amazing acts of generosity and personal acts of service by clubs, Rotarians, and Rotaractors.  

The Rotary Foundation has been proud to support our members’ efforts in serving their communities. Since March 2020, we awarded $32 million in global and disaster response grants for projects related to COVID-19. In fact, we awarded 1,359 global grants worth $95.6 million in 2019-20. Compare that to 2013-14, when global grants were first introduced, when we awarded 868 global grants worth $47.3 million. That’s a lot of growth! All over the world, Foundation grants are supporting projects that demonstrate Rotary’s impact and reach.  

Polio Eradication - February 2021

The latest End Polio Now Newsletter headline states: "Rotary remains committed to fighting polio and responding to COVID-19". Read it here.

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.

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.

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Rotary Foundation pages:

Applying for a Grant

more Success Stories plus Overview Presentation and Application Forms for Global and District Grants (5 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. (2 pages below this)

Rotary Areas of Focus

more The seven areas of Rotary focus that form the framework for grants. (3 pages below this)

Giving to our Rotary Foundation

more Many clubs make donations to The Rotary Foundation, as do many individual Rotarians

End Polio Now

more Since 1985, Rotary’s key humanitarian priority has been to rid the world of polio.