One of the interesting things I’ve learned about the Rotary Foundation and the work we do in Rotary is that sometimes we get to talking about some pretty big numbers. And when that happens, often times Rotarian’s eyes kind of glaze over because, let’s face it, we are all not financial gurus and half of us would prefer to learn by looking at pictures instead of looking at numbers. So let me take a crack at explaining the amazing financial opportunity available to anyone thinking of making a contribution to Polio Plus. (WARNING: This post says little about the majesty of what we are about to accomplish in terms of eradicating Polio from the planet. I’ll let people who can write better than me take on how it feels to be a part of such an important and wonderful effort. This post is all about the money.)
Here’s the deal. Going forward, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to US $35 million per year, every dollar Rotary commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018. Let’s break this down into small numbers so we are sure we understand what this means. If you cut a check to the Rotary Foundation for Polio Plus for, let’s say, $100, then the Gates Foundation will match that check with their own check for $200, making the total contribution $300. In investment terms, you would have earned a risk-free 200% return on your money. In this case, you just leveraged your money by 200% in helping Rotary meet what is BY FAR it’s most important strategic goal. (I know the blog title says 350%….so please read on.)
If we go back to the bigger numbers, Gates is matching our collective contribution of $35 million with $70 million, EVERY YEAR for the next FIVE years. So if we do our part, and they do their part, the total contribution will be $105 million EACH YEAR for the next five years, or more than $500 MILLION. The thing is, the total bill for the Endgame for Polio, announced last year by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), is $5.5 BILLION, more than 10 times Rotary’s contribution IF we hit our numbers. They have commitments right now for $4 billion. The difference between $5.5 billion and the $4 billion already committed is the shortfall. Everyone agrees that Rotarians remain the heart and soul of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, but I hope you can see that now we have some very powerful partners. We should be proud to be part of a pretty amazing coalition of governmental and nongovernmental organizations pledging billions to eradicate polio.
Here’s one last bit of information you may not know. In addition to the Gates Foundation match, the Trustees of the Rotary Foundation have announced that they will match up to $7 million of District Designated Funds (DDF) by 50 cents on the dollar from the Foundation’s World Fund. Here’s what that means to us. Under the direction of DG Peter Kyle and DRFC Claude Morissette, our District Leadership Team contributed $10,000 of global DDF to Polio Plus this year. That money is matched 50 cents on the dollars by TRF World Fund so it’s worth $15,000. The $15,000 is matched 2 for 1 by the Gates Foundation, a total Gates Foundation match of $30,000, so the total value is $45,000. Our $10,000 DDF contribution from the District is turned into $45,000 – a 350% RETURN! And as I said above, our individual and club donations to Polio Plus get matched 2 – 1, or a 200% return!
I hope you made it all the way to the bottom of this post. If the numbers are killing you, just focus on the picture below and feel great about what we do. Then cut a check to the Rotary Foundation and know the Gates Foundation is matching you 2 for 1.
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“Going forward, the Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to US$35 million per year, every dollar Rotary commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018,” said Jeff Raikes, the foundation’s chief executive officer, in a prerecorded video address shown during the convention’s plenary session on 25 June. “If fully realized, the value of this new partnership with Rotary is more than $500 million. In this way, your contributions to polio will work twice as hard.”