Monthly Archives: May 2015

A World Peace Conspiracy Revealed at One Rotary Center


No matter how many times you count them, you won’t come up with 19 floors.  Trust me….there is a 19th floor, and you won’t believe what goes on there.

I have been asked, on more than one occasion, to explain how and why the Annual Program fund is set up the way it is.  Could it possibly be that it was intended to be the most complicated and completely incomprehensible method of funding humanitarian projects ever devised?  It turns out that the answer to that question is an unqualified YES!  I’ve recently learned that the notion that Rotary clubs can best determine how Rotary should achieve its objective of advancing the cause of world peace is a fraud.  A sham.  It’s a giant cover up for one of the biggest secrets ever revealed about Rotary International.  That’s right, dear RFA readers, I have uncovered an amazing story that I reveal to you now at great personal risk because 1) it is my sworn duty as the editor, writer, and class clown of RFA, and 2) I am still hoping to win a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism.

I have learned through a variety of covert sources at RI headquarters, located at One Rotary Center in Evanston, Ill, that world peace is actually planned and executed around the world by a super secret organization within an organization called the Rotary World Peace Division.  (WPD) This group of highly trained world peace professionals work on the 19th floor of One Rotary Center.  Yes. Yes. Yes.  I know that you think that Rotary HQ has only 18 floors, but you would be incorrect.  What you think you know about the building is an illusion, a carefully planned diversion to take your eyes away from the incredible and unbelievable work of the WPD.  (Don’t try to find the actual architectural drawings for the 19th floor.  Several have tried to retrieve them and let’s just say they all had an unfortunate accident.)


19th Floor Staff member dressed in required gray robe and hood.  The gold bowl is required for maximum empathy and helps 19th floor staff determine the best ideas for world peace.  

Let me give you a brief tour of the 19th floor.  As you come off the elevator the immediate first impression you get is calm….and quiet.  All Rotary employees on floor 19 dress in garb similar to ancient druids….robes with cowls that cover most of their faces.  The walls are hospital white and the robes are shades of gray.  The only sound you hear is the air conditioning that keeps 19th floor temperatures to within 1 degree of the required temperature for optimal peace work, and the low whir of super computers directly linked to the National Security Agency in the U.S. and the C.E.R.N. computers near the Franco-Swisss border near Geneva.

Elevator entrances to secret organizations have been well covered by the media. Here is a surprisingly accurate depiction of what its like from the ancient TV show, Get Smart.   Younger Rotarians may not remember CONTROL Agent, Maxwell Smart, as he enters HQ through a series of super secret doors.  This is similar to the 19th Floor entrance at One Rotary Center.

There is select Rotary staff working on the 19th floor, but the stars of the show are the six WPD “areas of focus” directors.  These six men and women are the individuals who are actually responsible for all Rotary world peace efforts.   With the help of super computing power, and their ability as trained empaths who can feel the pain and suffering of people in 200 countries around the world, these Area of Focus Directors (AOFD’s) spend their days silently contemplating peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention, maternal and child health, literacy, water and sanitation, and economic development, and then telepathically communicate their correct and infallible view of how to develop and finance the very best programs that will lead to world peace to more than 500 Rotary District Foundation Chairs worldwide.  The Foundation Chairs, of course, have no idea they are being manipulated in this way, and have been for close to 100 years.  For that matter, the International Rotary Foundation Chairs are also victims, helpless against the incredible power of the 19th Floor.

Hollywood once again helps us understand just how super secret and powerful 19th Floor WPD Operations can be.  Will Smith’s transformation to Agent J in Men in Black is similar to the six AOFD Directors at Rotary WPD.  They too transformed when they donned the robes and cowl of the WPD and subsequently lost their identity.

It is admittedly creepy to think that this has been going on for so many years.  But it could be worse.  Here is the always super-duper creepy Terrance Stamp explaining how “they” control free will in the movie, The Adjustment Bureau?  These folks make 19th Floor Operations look positively benign. The lesson for us is 1) Don’t try to get between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, 2) Don’t try to figure out who is better looking, Matt Damon or Emily Blunt, and 3) The super powerful operatives of the WPD are doing the best they can to forward the object of world peace.  You will never meet one of them.  But if by my some miracle you do, don’t give them too much grief about the current state of the world.  World peace is a tough nut…even for a bunch of super empaths.

This amazing hoax has been perpetrated on Rotarians since 1917, the year that RI President Arch Klumph decided to form a Foundation for the purpose of covering up the activities what would soon become known as the 19th Floor operation.  “19th Floor programs” DO receive top priority funding from what we think of as the Rotary Foundation.  (yes…Charity Navigator and the other independent rating agencies are in on this, but that’s another story.)  Rotary clubs only think they are creating innovative, productive, and amazingly helpful programs to advance the cause of world peace around the world.  They, we, us…are all pawns in a world peace power game being conducted under our very noses.  It was the genius of Rotary leaders, like Arch Klumph, to realize that world peace could only be attained by a super select group of professionals working in the middle of North America, strategically located in Evanston, Ill.

Well now you know the truth.  There is a super secret division of Rotary druids on the 19th Floor of One Rotary Center who are empaths who determine the best programs to advance the cause of world peace, and telepaths who convince Rotarians that these projects were their own idea.  Did you really think a program with an APF, World Fund, SHARE program, DDF, three year investment period, etc., etc., etc.,  could possibly be anything more than a diversion to so mystify Rotarians that they wouldn’t recognize 19th Floor Programs?

Authors Note:  I hope you enjoyed today’s conspiracy theory post.  If you believe any part of this…I just can’t help you.  The SHARE program at the Rotary Foundation is one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve seen.  It allows Rotary clubs around the world to work together to further the object of world peace through humanitarian service.  There is still one month left to give to our Foundation this Rotary year.  Please give generously.

One Rotary Center in Evanston, Illinois, USA, on 11 May 2009.
One Rotary Center in Evanston, Illinois, USA, on 11 May 2009.





Chillin at the Congressional Reception for Polio Eradication Champions


Mike McGovern, Rotary Trustee and Chair of the Polio Plus Committee, Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC, Senator Lamar Alexander, and John Germ, RI President-Elect, at the reception to honor Rotary Eradication Champions.

Washington, DC, the Capital of the United States of America, just happens to be in my Rotary District.  If you grew up in the suburbs and have to try not to act like a tourist when you travel to the city (any city), where you gawk at the big buildings and congratulate yourself for getting on and off mass transportation, and where you can’t believe it costs tens of thousands of dollars to park in a parking garage designed by Satan himself for about ten minutes, and where even your GPS get confused with street names and locations, you probably wouldn’t like having to travel to Washington, DC for Rotary meetings.

But not me!  I LOVE going to Washington, DC for Rotary meetings.  For example,  one week prior to going to the U.S. Capitol Building for a reception to honor U.S. Congressional leaders, I was attending an Alumni reception at the Ukrainian Embassy in Georgetown.  (READERS NOTE:  Yes folks…that’s the United States Capitol building.  And yes, when you live in DC apparently its no big deal to schedule your meetings at a variety of embassies.  These are real live embassies where you go inside and you are legally in a foreign country.  Admittedly this impresses me.  You see, I live in Howard County, Maryland and we ain’t got no embassies here.  We do have a great Mall, though.  But I digress…)


Obligatory tourist picture.  I know I’m not supposed to be so awestruck at hanging around the nations capitol building….but I can’t help it.

My visit to the U.S. Capitol was to attend an event honoring  Rotary Polio Eradication Champions. According to Kris Tsau, Advocate Specialist at Rotary International, Rotary has only one award for officials  (non Rotarians) who have demonstrated commitment to global polio eradication – the Polio Eradication Champion Award. The US is a bit unusual in that we recognize Members of Congress. In other countries, we (Rotary) typically recognize Heads of State and Ministers.  Having parked at Union Station, walked the short three blocks to the Capitol Building, and made my way past the marvelous sculptures of former US Congressional leaders, on my way to the Mansfield Room in the Capitol Building featuring a stunning portrait of former Senate Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield, I then proceeded to hobnob with all kinds of Rotary, and non-Rotary brass.

First off, the Master of Ceremonies was one of my personal Rotary heroes, Dr. John Sever. John is a District 7620 Rotarian who hasn’t done much in Rotary, other than the fact that Rotary’s polio eradication effort was pretty much his idea in the first place.  John Germ, RI President-Elect was in attendance, as was past RI Director, Anne Matthews.  Mike McGovern, Rotary Trustee and Chair of the International PolioPlus Committee was there, as was Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of Center for Disease Control.  But the stars of the show were the members of the U.S. Congress who stopped by to receive their honors and who, without exception, praised Rotary and all of our good works. This year’s 2015 Polio Champions were:  Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Representative Barbara Lee, and Representative Charlie Dent.  For those that don’t know (and many Rotarians I meet apparently don’t), the U.S. contributed $217 million to Polio Eradication last year.  It was OUR honor to say thank you to the Senators and Representatives that helped approve that kind of money.

I’ll have more to say about that in a moment, but first, I can’t begin to write about the power in Washington, DC without referencing my favorite politician, Frank Underwood, from House of Cards.  If you want to know about real power, find this show on Netflix and learn.  Here’s Frank (Kevin Spacey) on the difference between power and money.


ANOTHER READER’S NOTE:  Frank Underwood is a fictional character and is not at all like our actual Rotary Champions that serve us in the U.S. Congress.  They are wonderful people, and we are very glad they support us.  (NOTE TO KRIS TSAU:  It’s OK Kris, you can relax now.  It’s just a joke.)

Anyway, I wonder if Rotarians have any understanding of the scale of the Polio Eradication effort when it comes to the money it takes to eradicate Polio and the value of our partners in raising the needed funds.  Let’s start with this.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is currently matching Rotary’s worldwide Polio contributions two to one up to Rotary’s $35 million.  Last year the U.S. Government kicked in $217 million.  That’s more than SIX TIMES our contribution last year.  If we meet the Gates challenge over the five-year challenge period we will have contributed $175 million.  But the Polio Eradication End Game price tag is more than $5.5 BILLION.  Which isn’t meant to diminish the impact of Rotary’s giving more than $1 billion cumulatively over the years to eradicate polio.  But $5.5 billion is a little out of our price range.

Curious about where the money for eradicating polio has come from so far?  Here is a table from the Polio Eradication Initiative website showing who has given what so far.  Check out our amazing public and private partners in this joint effort.


Did you know that the Islamic Development Bank/Government of Pakistan has been so generous in funding Polio Eradication?  I didn’t.  Take a minute to check out the variety of donors on this list.  When someone asks you about Polio Eradication, do you mention our generous partners?  This is a pretty amazing list, don’t you think?

How about who is pledged to come up with remaining $5.5 billion needed to finish the job? Here’s a link to a table of past and future pledges to Polio Eradication from 1985 to 2018.  While Rotary is the acknowledged “heart and soul” of the Polio Eradication effort, it’s comforting to see the coalition of public and private resources that have committed funding to get the job done.

What about the U.S.?  Kris Tsau has been advocating for Polio funding from the very beginning of our polio eradication effort.  She tells me that in the first year of asking the U.S. Congress for help we received $11 million of funding.  This year we received $217 million.  Thank you, Kris, and all of the other Polio advocates around the world, who work with (lobby….OK…..I said it) governments and private interests to come up with the funds needed to eradicate polio.  This kind of money doesn’t show up by accident folks.  You need seasoned professionals who know what they are doing to make it happen.  Here’s a chart of U.S. giving that Kris sent along:

US Funding for Polio Eradication


As I travel around our District, I often hear from Rotarians who are frustrated when the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, the Gates Foundation, and other members of the Polio Eradication Initiative, don’t mention Rotary when they are asked about polio eradication.  I get it.  I really do.  But we are lucky to have such amazing partners in our polio eradication effort.  Let’s remember to say thanks to them as we mutter under our breath that they should have said something about Rotary.  After all, they are truly our partners and without them we would never come close to what we are about to achieve.

Oh….last word today on the subject.  You could tell they were reluctant to discuss this because they didn’t want to jinx it, but several speakers mentioned that its been over nine months since there has been a polio case in Nigeria.  With luck, soon we will be able to say that polio is eradicated in Africa.  Fingers crossed.


Rotarian Mike Smith, Kris Tsau, and Mike McGovern


RI President-Elect John Germ with District 7620 Young Professional Summit attendee, Clarissa Harris.


Attendees pretending to listen to the speakers while keeping the food surrounded.

20150513_181941Dr. John Sever, Rotary’s master champion polio eradicator looks on as Senator Lamar Alexander addresses the audience.

20150513_182859District 7620 District Governor Nominee, Greg Wims, with wife, Michelle, thinking that maybe this Rotary leadership thing isn’t so bad after all.






The Star Spangled District Conference is an Amazing Success!



Frederick Rotarians were determined to put on a great show for the rest of District 7620 when they hosted the District Conference this year.  They wanted to brag on their historic and beautiful hometown of Frederick, Maryland, AND they wanted to show the rest of the District how the Frederick clubs work together to do joint projects.  Under the Direction of Past District Governor, Andy Baum, man….did they ever!  District Governor, Bill Fine, was proud to hold this year’s conference in Frederick for good reason.  There must be something in the water in Frederick County.  The four Frederick Clubs include two of the District’s “big five,” including the Rotary Club of Frederick (196 members) and the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek (166 members.)  The two smaller clubs, Southern Frederick County ( 33 members) and Fredericktowne (38 members) also do a great job in serving the community.  Together the four clubs represent an AMAZING 19% of all of the membership in District 7620.

Now I don’t know what you particularly like to have at your District Conference.  For many, they want low cost and a short conference that doesn’t kill the budget or their schedule. Others rank fun, education, good speakers, good fellowship fun, and fun, high on the list.  All I can say is: check, check, check, check, and check.  By having the Conference hosted at Hood College in Frederick instead of a hotel venue, the costs of attending was affordable for all.   Attendees could stay the night at a local hotel, crash at the home of Frederick Rotarians who graciously volunteered to host, or commute to the Conference, depending on their preference.  And because of how it was structured by DG Bill and PDG Andy, and the support of District Rotarians, the District did just fine financially this year.

Friday featured a whole lot of different events that weren’t officially part of the Conference.  You had your choice of playing golf at Musket Ridge Golf Course (interesting two lowest net score format which let you play your own ball.  And yes, Musket Ridge kicked my butt…..again), participating in service projects sponsored by the different Frederick Rotary Clubs, attending a New Member Forum for new Rotarians, or taking a variety of walking tours of Frederick City.  Then the Conference officially kicked off Friday evening with a memorial service and “Barbeque  Bash” at the Bandshell in Baker Park, where The Original Booze Brothers Band rocked the house…er….Park.

NOTE:  Special thanks to Carroll Creek member and Past President, Connie Philips, for the link to Dropbox for the following pix.  Far too many to be included here.  To the many Rotarians where I’ve posted your picture without your name…forgive me.



Yours Truly about to hit the ball straight right into the woods.


Friday service projects.

More Friday service projects.


Even more Friday service projects.


Standing center:  PDG’s Bob Parkinson and Claude Morissette, not sure where but        apparently prior to serious drinking.



Great band played at the Bandshell Friday night picnic.

Then it was off to the hospitality suites. Cleverly, the hospitality suites were strategically located where you could actually learn about the city of Frederick, including The Frederick Visitor Center, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the C. Burr Artz Branch of the Frederick County Library,  The Museum of Frederick County History, The Visitation Academy, and the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center.  Thank you to all of the clubs that hosted the hospitality suites this year!  It was great.  The only negative I heard was that the weather was so perfect that everyone wanted to walk between the hospitality venues and it made it harder to keep your buzz.


Hospitality suite at the Delaplaine Arts Center


DG Bill and First Lady Kathleen morphing into insects Fri. eve.


Myself, Member Chair Rich Glover, and Young Professional team of Clarissa Harris and Justin Saltzman…strategizing.

Saturday kicked off with our traditional Four Way Speech Contest, followed by a performance by the Comedy Pigs, an improv group that got the audience roaring.  Next up were some fantastic breakout sessions, including a session on attracting young professionals hosted by Clarissa Harris and Justin Saltzman, a session on how to use social media taught by District PR Chair Dawn Wittfelt,  a breakout for how to dress for success, brought to you by Leslie Kinkaid, and a critically important session called, Prohibition is Over, Let’s Make Beer, hosted by Ed Wrzesinski.  Last but not least, there was a session on Wellness by Mimi McLaughlin and our usual breakouts for Interact and Rotaract clubs.

The luncheon featured DG Bill Fine and District Awards Chair, Larry Leahy, making the presentations to clubs that won RI President, Gary Huang’s, Presidential Citation.  Our lunch speaker was George Wunderlich, an expert on civil war medicine, who thankfully decided that an after-lunch discussion about blood and guts might not be the best choice, and regaled us with stories about the City of Frederick instead.  After breaking for more tours (or in my case a nap), it was back to Hood College for a banquet featuring more prestigious awards including long-time District Polio Chair, Raj Saini, winning the Rotary International Award for a Polio Free World, PDG Bob Grill winning the Rotary International Service Above Self Award, and IPDG, Peter Kyle, winning Citation for Meritorious Service for the Rotary Foundation.

But perhaps the highlight of the evening was the presentation by RI Rep, Dean Rohrs, who spun some inspirational, and terrifying, tales of her childhood in South Africa and her long journey of Rotary service.  Her talk was so personal, and so emotional, that you could hear a pin drop while she spoke.  Rotary will be in good hands when she matriculates to the RI Board of Directors.

With the Conference officially adjourned, it was off to the Weinberg Center to see a Broadway quality show called, The Rock Tenors.  All I can say about them is OMG.  Their standing ovation and multiple encores were well deserved.

So…thank you to all of the Frederick Rotarians who made this Conference an overwhelming success.  Thank you to the over 460 registered guests who made the Conference a success.  And…thanks to Frederick City for being so beautiful, along with the weather, which also contributed to making the Conference a memorable and fun event.


                                   DG Bill thanking Md. State Police Honor Guard Friday Eve.                                                 Alternate caption: slapping the cuffs on DG Bill Fine


                         His Honor, Mayor Randy McClement, welcoming all to Baker Park.


Rotarian Mark Milby failing the dress code.  With Connie Phillips.


Four-Way Test speech contest finalists.  Wow were they good.


The Comedy Pigs.  Wow were they funny.


                     Half of Clarissa Harris and Justin Saltzman, our Young Professional Summiteers.


Dressing for success


                   President Joe Van Deuren picking up Presidential Citation for South AA County Rotary


PDG Bob Grill winning International Service Above Self Award.


            They said this show was going to be good.  But who knew is was going to be THAT good.


                       IPDg Peter Kyle wins Citation for Meritorious Service for the Rotary Foundation.


                  Frederick Rotarian, John Fieseler, handled the MC duties all weekend with perfect ease.  Great job, John!


If you missed attending the District Conference this year.  No worries!  We will be having another one next year on April 9 – 10 at the Hyatt Regency at the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  Save the date!!!!




If It Ain’t Broke….Break It!



NOTE:  Today’s post was supposed to be about the recent District 7620 District Conference. Unfortunately Ready, Fire, Aim editorial deadlines must be met so the Conference blog will be up next week after I get my hands on the best jpegs from the event.  They will be worth the wait.  Stay tuned….

Two weeks ago, after our Rotary meeting, and during our weekly “meeting after the meeting,” we were discussing changing our long-held club Charitable Trust rules for awarding grants to multiple charities.  Honorary  member, Doris Johnson, whose official classification is Club Fairy Godmother, was asked to opine, and the thought she shared was, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”  This particular sentiment made me smile because for the past decade I’ve included a slide in our President- Elect Training Seminars that has a slightly different take on the whole “is it broke” thing.  The slide says, “If it Ain’t Broke….Break It!”  As usual, while I thought I was being clever and kind of ripping off former Intel CEO Andy Grove’s thoughts from his book, “Only the Paranoid Survive,” it turns out that lot’s of folks smarter than me use the phrase.  For example, Prof. Robert Kriegel and Lousi Patter have a book named, “If it Ain’t Broke Break It.”  And famous management guru, Tom Peters, is credited with the quote, “If it ain’t broke, break it (or someone will do it for you.)  Here’s a quote from former Intel CEO Andy Grove:

“a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end”
Andrew S. Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive

What does this have to do with Rotary?  Everything!  We are a service organization that is facing a classic strategic inflection point.  And club presidents, as the Rotary leaders in the trenches who face changing fundamentals every day, are on the front lines of dealing with change.  Whether they can recognize, as Grove says, “the winds have shifted,” is critical to the success of our clubs and of course, for Rotary as a whole.

Before we take on some of the characteristics of Rotary’s strategic inflection point, I thought it would be highly entertaining (in the spirit of “breaking it) to check out a few great Hollywood scenes of things blowing up.  Movie fans will recognize these scenes as the ultimate in “breaking it.”  For scene number one I nominate Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Night blowing up Gotham General Hospital.

There are many signs and symptoms that Rotary is truly at a strategic inflection point. For RFA readers these are recurring themes, but I present them here again for your consideration:

We are getting old.  Our average member is over the age of 50.  We are kind of like Major League Baseball.  If Baseball can’t get a younger demographic to watch the sport, and to play the sport, they are doomed.  Same with Rotary.  Get younger or perish.

Our clubs increasingly do not represent the true leaders in our community.  If you name the top 20 businesses in town ranked by sales, or by employees, are you likely to find them as members of the local Rotary club?  Unfortunately, increasingly, they are not.

Our Rotary club’s do good work, but our charitable endeavors are increasingly irrelevant in the communities we serve.  Clubs tend to specialize in small service projects suitable for small Rotary clubs.  We are in danger of no longer having the scale to make a difference locally.  The exception is, of course, Polio Eradication on an international scale.  Part of our PR issue is that many of our projects simply aren’t newsworthy in our local community.

Well…that was hard to swallow, wasn’t it?  To ease the pain, it’s time for another example of “breaking it.”  For our second example of completely blowing something up, I give you the famous scene from Star Wars Episode 4 – the end of the Death Star:

Luckily for us, we don’t need to “blow up” most of our Rotary clubs.  So much of what we do is right on point.  But there are several items that we can tackle to help us address the “winds of change” that are out there.  The trick is to have an open mind.  Can we really “break it” when it seems to most of our members that “it isn’t broke?”

We can, but it takes true leaders at the club level to rally the troops, share a different vision for the future, and then execute a plan that is likely to take more than one year to implement.  One of Rotary’s strengths is that changing leaders every year gives everyone a chance to lead and to enjoy the personal and perhaps, professional, growth that comes from being on a club’s leadership team.  But the flip side of that coin is that changing leaders every year makes it difficult to face strategic issues, like clubs reaching a strategic inflection point, that require multi-year solutions to difficult organizational challenges.

Before we get to some of the solutions, I’m sorry but we have to watch just one more scene of things getting blown to kingdom come.  What fun!  For our final explosion I give you Indiana Jones in The Crystal Skull surviving a nuclear test explosion in a refrigerator.  Do you remember this?

That is so cool!  I want Indie in our Rotary club.  Does anyone know this guy?  But I digress. Do you want a quick list of things to break in your Rotary club?  Try these on for size. Warning:  PLEASE don’t shoot the messenger.  I didn’t create the strategic inflection point we need to address.  I’m just reporting the news, folks.

Singing your favorite patriotic song at the beginning of a meeting just might turn off a whole generation of Rotarians who just don’t “get it.”  That doesn’t mean they aren’t patriotic.  It might mean they think it is unbearably corny. (Who knows what word they would use for “corny?”)

Believing that young professionals won’t be interested in your Rotary club because your club is too old entirely misses the selling proposition that Rotary has for young people anxious to network and learn from successful community leaders.

The belief that your Rotary club is a “stand alone” organization that can build a brand in your community without partnering with other local Rotary clubs in the same community is a waste of energy, creativity, and time.

Believing that the public is not interested in international projects when the news is filled with international threats of every stripe.  We have to get Rotarians to believe that our mission of world peace through humanitarian service is relevant to “all concerned.”  If we don’t buy it, who else will?

The notion that Rotary clubs are service clubs and not “networking” clubs entirely misses a changing fundamental in our society.  EVERYONE wants to network today, and one of the best ways to do it is to do community service together.  Sneering at people who want to join Rotary to advance their business interests is just shooting yourself in the foot.

OK. Enough for this particular rant this evening.  Remember…if ain’t broke….break it (or someone will break it for you.)  Rotary needs to become an organization that is all about continuous innovation.  Guess what?  There is absolutely no barrier for your Rotary club to change to meet our strategic inflection point.  The only thing standing in our way is us.

We can do this.









Good News, Bad News, Good News!




I just had a chance to look over District 7620’s year-over-year Annual Program Fund giving comparisons through the month of April.  The good news is that we are currently ….wait for it…..$40,000 ahead of our pace of last year.  I suppose calling this “good news” is an understatement since these contributions come back to our District as part of the TRF SHARE program.  Every dollar we contribute to the Annual Program Fund is a statement of our trust and confidence in our fellow Rotarians that they have some great ideas for improving the lives of others.  Since in our District we routinely split our SHARE proceeds so that 50% of our funds go to District grants, and the other 50% are available for global grants, it means that our clubs can apply for grants to support their local efforts to “do good in the world,” as well as international efforts to do the same.

I just don’t know of another philanthropy that asks the giver to be so involved in the solution to a problem.  In our case the goal is world peace and how we do it, as Rotarians, is just about completely up to us.  You can give to the Rotary Foundation and end up funding a creative project developed by a Rotarian in our District whom you’ve never met before, OR you can create your own project and have it supported by a Rotarian who gives to the Rotary Foundation who has never met you before!  In either case, we are trusting that we are all together in the spirit of doing good in the world, AND that we have great ideas worthy of our funds.  In short, this truly is OUR Foundation where we rely on Rotarians in our District, and around the world, to come up with practical and useful solutions to problems in our six areas of focus, including peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention, maternal and child healthcare, literacy, clean water and sanitation, and economic development.   How cool is that?



As I look over the number of clubs in our District that are enthusiastically supporting the Rotary Foundation for the first time, I can’t help but wonder if they realize that the SHARE program represents a short two-to-three year investment where the funds we contribute today will not come back to our District and be available for grants until July of 2017.  District 7620 eligibility rules require clubs to give an average of $100 per member to TRF APF in order to be eligible for global grants, and clubs are required to give, on average, $50 per member to be eligible for district grants.  And while I can see the excitement building as our club members dig into their pockets in expectation of being able to apply for a grant to support a local or international project, they might  be disappointed to find out we don’t have the funds to meet the requests of all of our clubs next year.  That’s because the funds we have available next year (2015-16) are part of our SHARE distribution based on contributions made in the 2012-13 Rotary year.

Our APF giving goal of $200 per capita means that our total Rotary Foundation giving to the Annual Program Fund would be approximately $460,000 (based on our current 2,300 members.)  If we hit that number this year then $230,000 of SHARE proceeds will return to the District to support our projects in 2017-18.  What will happen in the meantime?  Will our clubs be so disappointed that our Foundation team won’t have enough funds to fully fund every project next year that they will stop giving?  What if we get discouraged at exactly the worst time…when achieving our APF giving goal is in sight?

NOTE:  I wrote about our investment in the SHARE program last March right here in Ready, Fire, Aim.  For some interesting charts about how it works, see “A Short Term Investment



District and club leaders are managing the expectations of our Rotary clubs and carefully explaining the difference between being eligible for a District or Global grant, and actually having the funds next year from the SHARE program to fund those grants.  Furthermore, while we usually state the wait time for the SHARE program as three years, at this time of year it’s much shorter than that.  Funds given to TRF APF by Rotary year-end will be available through the SHARE program by July 2017, and THAT is ONLY two years and two months from now.  In other words, while we always make a short-term investment in the APF that pays off within three years, in this case the investment is even shorter.  In addition, our District’s eligibility rules for global grants allow clubs to apply for grants with a maximum amount equal to their last two years of APF Foundation giving.  So even though funds may not be available next year to fund all of our club’s grant requests, the contributions clubs make this year will go into the eligibility equation of what they will be eligible for two years from now.  And, if you are following this, two years from now we just might have a massive increase in SHARE funds available because of the generosity of our clubs.

So…we have two months left in the Rotary year.  If you haven’t done so already, please consider making a contribution to The Rotary Foundation APF.  Your contribution will support local and international projects developed by Rotarians right here in District 7620, as well as our District’s contributions to polio eradication, global scholarships, and the Rotary Peace Fellow endowment fund.  We are making a major investment in our own ability to do good in the world.  Let’s “prime the pump” so in 2017-18 we will have the SHARE proceeds to fund the very best ideas of our Rotary clubs.