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.
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