“We should not live for ourselves alone, but for the joy in doing good for others.” — Arch C. Klumph, letter to Rotary club presidents, 5 February 1929
The seed for The Rotary Foundation was planted by Rotary President Arch Klumph at the Atlanta Convention in 1917. From the first gift of $26.50, the Foundation’s assets have grown to approximately $1 billion, and more than $3 billion has been spent on programs and projects — transforming millions of lives across the globe. Learn More About The Foundation
At the 1917 convention, outgoing RI President Arch C. Klumph proposed to set up an endowment “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” In 1928, it was renamed The Rotary Foundation, 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. The organization, created by Rotarian Edgar F. “Daddy” Allen, later grew into Easter Seals.
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.
1947: The Foundation established its first program, Fellowships for Advance Study, later known as Ambassadorial Scholarships.
1965-66: Three programs were launched: Group Study Exchange, Awards for Technical Training, and Grants for Activities in Keeping with the Objective of The Rotary Foundation, which was later called Matching Grants.
1978: Rotary introduced the Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Grants. The first 3-H Grant funded a project to immunize 6 million Philippine children against polio.
1985: The PolioPlus program was launched to eradicate polio worldwide.
1987-88: The first peace forums were held, leading to Rotary Peace Fellowships.
2013: New district, global, and packaged grants enable Rotarians around the world to respond to the world’s greatest needs.
Since the first donation of $26.50 in 1917, the Foundation has received contributions totaling more than $1 billion.
The Rotary Foundation transforms your gifts into projects that change lives both close to home and around the world. As the charitable arm of Rotary, we tap into a global network of Rotarians who invest their time, money, and expertise into our priorities, such as eradicating polio and promoting peace. Foundation grants empower Rotarians to approach challenges such as poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition with sustainable solutions that leave a lasting impact.
Strong financial oversight, a stellar charity rating, and a unique funding model mean that we make the very most of your contribution. Give and become a part of Rotary’s life-changing work!