Rotary Foundation was begun in 1917 by Arch Klumph, sixth president of Rotary International.


At the International Convention held in Atlanta, GA in 1917 Arch Klumph suggested Rotary should establish an endowment to do good in the world. To that end, the $26.50 left over from the convention was donated for that purpose. Donations and contributions were rather slow for many years but below are the hallmark years for the Foundation. Then, as now there are two sides to the Foundation:

1. The programs and good works that are done in the name of Rotary, and

2. The task of developing a fund to pay for those programs and to support those good works.

1930 The Rotary Foundation’s first grant US$500 is awarded to the International Society of Crippled Children.

1947 At the death of Rotary International’s Founder PAUL HARRIS, Rotarians from around the world made gifts to the foundation in his memory.

1957 Paul Harris fellow recognition begins for donors giving at least US$1,000 to the Foundation. Annual Contribution exceed US$1 M., enabling it to establish the Matching Grants Program and the Group Study Exchange Program.

1965 The Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) program is created to help improve health, alleviate hunger and enhance human and social development.

1978 The Foundation trustees approve a US$760,000 3-H grant for a five year Polio immunization plan in the Philippines

1981 The Rotary Endowment for World Understanding and Peace is established..

1985 Contributions climb to US$24 M. annually, PolioPlus officially becomes a Rotary Foundation program.

1990 Carl P. Miller Discovery Grants Begin.

1993 At the RI Convention in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, a child is immunized against polio.

1994 Permanent Fund initiative begins, expanding the Rotary Endowment and providing future Earned income.

1996 Number of Contributors to the Foundation reaches one million. And Helping Grants begin

1998 Total Contributions to the Foundation since its inception surpass US$1 Billion. Trustees expand opportunities for projects and simplify procedures for Foundation grants.

The mission of the Rotary Foundation is to support the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and peace through,

Rotary Grants Program

We've changed how we structure Rotary grants. Our new system focuses primarily on three grant types—district, global, and packaged. It is both more efficient and sustainable, and will help us make a greater impact around the globe. Visit the Rotary Grants website to learn about the new grant program.

Rotary International's Six Areas of Focus

Rotary clubs serve communities around the world, each with unique concerns and needs. Rotarians have continually adapted and improved the way they respond to those needs, taking on a broad range of service projects. The most successful and sustainable Rotary service tends to fall within one of the following six areas:

Peace and conflict prevention/resolution
Disease prevention and treatment
Water and sanitation
Maternal and child health
Basic education and literacy
Economic and community development

Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation recognize these six areas of focus as organizational priorities, and there are countless ways that Rotarians can address these needs locally and internationally. For ideas, consult the publication Rotary’s Areas of Focus. Clubs and districts can apply for Rotary Foundation Global Grant funding by targeting specific goals for one or more of the areas of focus. Learn more about these goals.

PolioPlus Program Perhaps the most ambitious Rotary Foundation program is Polio Plus. By the year 2005, Rotarians’ contributions to the global Polio eradication effort exceeded US$425 million. More importantly, hundreds of thousands of Rotary Volunteers at the local level, providing private sector support for Polio immunization and eradication activities.

Rotary Peace Programs Rotary Peace Programs are intended to complement and extend Rotary’s past efforts and current programs aimed at improving world understanding. They build on Rotary’s unique perspective as the world’s oldest and most international service organization. Rotary Peace Programs Grants utilize the worldwide membership, programs and resources of Rotary to achieve greater knowledge by Rotarians, the general public, and policymakers of the issues that enhance cooperation between nations, cultivate good will and peaceful understanding among people, and promote economic and human development.

To review requirements and suggestions for grants you can download the Grant Guide.

District Grant Program

For files from the District Assembly Grant Seminar April 20, 2013 click here.
District Grants (Download an Application for the grant.)


District grants fund smaller, short-term activities that address needs in both your local community and communities worldwide. Each district gets to choose which activities it will fund with these grants.

You can use district grants to fund a variety of activities, including:

• Humanitarian projects, including service travel and disaster recovery efforts
• Scholarships for any level, length of time, location, or area of study
• Vocational training of any team size or timespan


Global grants support large international activities with sustainable, measurable outcomes in one or more of the six areas of focus.

Global grants must:

• Be an international partnership between a Rotary club or district in the country where the activity takes place and a Rotary club or district outside of that country
• Be sustainable and include plans for long-term success after the global grant funds have been spent
• Include measurable goals that are demonstrated through progress reports
• Align with one of our six areas of focus
• Respond to real community needs
• Include active participation from both Rotarians and community members
• Have a minimum budget of US$30,000
• Meet the eligibility requirements in the grants terms and conditions

You can use global grants to fund:

• Humanitarian projects that support the goals of one or more of the areas of focus
• Scholarships for graduate-level academic studies that relate to one or more of the areas of focus
• Vocational training teams, which are groups of professionals traveling abroad either to learn more about their profession or teach local professionals about a particular field

A vocational training team (VTT) is a group of professionals who travel to another country either to learn more about their profession or to teach local professionals about a particular field. Under Future Vision, Rotary Foundation district, global, and packaged grants all support VTTs, but each grant type has different requirements.

VTTs build on the Foundation’s long-standing commitment to vocational training, first formalized with the establishment of the Group Study Exchange program in 1965. VTTs take the GSE concept of enabling young professionals to observe their profession in another country a step further by offering participants the opportunity to use their skills to help others. Hands-on activities vary from one team to the next but may include training medical professionals on cardiac surgery and care, sharing best practices on early childhood education, or explaining new irrigation techniques to farmers. A successful VTT increases the capacity of the host community to solve problems and improve the quality of life.

How do we get all this money to do all these good works?  (Download the contributions form!)   

It is by the contributions of Rotarians like you through-

Annual Giving

(i)  Individual Gifts.Annual giving can be made, either in Individual Gifts or made in a variety of ways, Special giving such as bequests and District or Club special events all provide support.  PDG Ken Buel conducted an auction at his District Conference to support the Foundation.  Others have done similar projects.     

(ii)  Special giving.     

(iii) District and club special events.

Paul Harris Fellows

  1. Sustaining Members (Centurion Society.)
    Paul Harris Fellows and Sustaining members constitute the major portion of contributions throughout the Rotary World.  Although some regard the Paul Harris Fellow Recognition as a reward for good and faithful service it is a recognition of a contribution of $1,000 to the Foundation and is not the only contribution expected of a Rotarian.
  2. Memorial Contribution.
    Memorial Contributions are made in the name of a worthy individual.
  3. Permanent Fund (Rotary Benefactors)
    The Permanent Fund is an effort to establish a permanent endowment from which only the interest would be spent.  It is funded by contributions of $1,000 directly or by gifts from estate or insurance.  If you would like to make arrangements to become a Benefactor you can download a model for a codicil to you will which will accomplish that purpose by selecting the underlined title of this paragraph.
  4. Planned Giving
    The donations made each year are set aside and invested while decisions are made on exactly how to spend the money and programs are organized. Investment earnings pay the operating expenses of The Rotary Foundation. During the third year after the contribution, every dollar contributed is spent on Foundations programs, under the supervision and guidance of Rotarians around the world.This system of fully spending every contribution means that new money is needed every year to continue the Foundation's programs. Money donated during the current Rotary year (2007-2008) will pay for programs to build world understanding and peace during the 2010-2011 Rotary year.Every club in the district has been authorized to begin a new program called the Centurion Campaign urging EVERY ROTARIAN - EVERY YEAR to contribute to the Annual Program Fund of The Rotary Foundation.

To qualify as a Centurion you agree to contribute a minimum of $100 each year to The Rotary Foundation. That contribution is equal to $2 per week. You can think of it as donating a quarter-a-day and two quarters on your Rotary Club meeting day.

Paul Harris Society

The Paul Harris Society is named after the founder of Rotary International. The society recognizes friends of The Rotary Foundation who annually contribute US$1,000 or more to the Annual Programs Fund, PolioPlus, and other approved Foundation grant activities. Society contributions may count toward Rotary Foundation Sustaining Member, Paul Harris Fellow, Multiple Paul Harris Fellow, and Major Donor recognition.

The Paul Harris Society is a district-administered recognition program. Membership is tracked and recognized independently by each Rotary district. To Become a member download the Paul Harris Society Commitment Form and submit the form to the District 6460 Paul Harris Society Chair.