I’ve just finished a three-part series of posts about recruiting young professionals to Rotary. You know the story…we need their clear-eyed idealism, their boundless energy, their willingness to get their hands dirty with fresh ideas about how to solve problems in our community. Blah, Blah, Blah. Today’s post celebrates what I like to think of as one of the great benefits of having older Rotarians in our clubs. And that, my friends, has to do with dirty, sweaty, money.
That’s right. Those clear-eyed, idealistic young professionals typically don’t have much money. And they are not quite certain (yet) how they will make their money. Interestingly, entire generations of young Rotarians don’t seem to care about money in the same way that we (by “we” I mean older, more mature, but still vibrant, vital, and good looking baby-boomers) do. They seem to be more interested in….wait for it…..being happy. I know, I know. I don’t understand a word of what they are saying either. Which brings me to the target audience for this blog. I’m writing to those of you who are ages 55 and older, have more money than you need to pay the bills, more money than you really need to leave the kids, and believe that having money creates a responsibility for you to do something meaningful with it over and above taking care of you and yours. Something that will make a difference.
NOTE: If you are not in this target audience, because for the most part older folks don’t read blog posts, please forward this post to someone you know who might fit this description. They will only hate you for a month or so, and then settle in to about year’s worth of indifference.
We (Rotarians) are all about doing good in the world. You know the story. World peace, 2.5 billion children vaccinated against polio, TRF’s six areas of focus, service above self, and so one. We get it. But perhaps you agree that it takes money to make Rotary’s world go round. It’s money that funds our best and most important projects. And its money that brings me to one of my favorites moments from one of my favorite movies, “As Good As it Gets.” Here Greg Kinnear (Best Supporting Actor Nominee) and Helen Hunt (Academy Award for Best Actress) find out from (Academy Award Winner for Best Actor) Jack Nicholson, that some people’s lives are about noodle salad. The punch line about “sweaty money” is just awesome.
If you have money, then you are probably used to people asking you to spend it, or invest it, or give it away. We all deal with well meaning people who have a genius for asking us to make charitable donations in just the wrong way. Which brings me to another of my favorite movie characters, Ned Ryerson, from the movie, “Groundhogs Day.” We all hate to be “sold,” and Ned sure does a great job of reminding us just how pushy people can be when they are trying to sell you something. Bill Murray as Phil and Steven Tabolowsky as Ned are perfect in this scene.
So, with great humility, let me take my turn as the “Ned Ryerson” of Rotary and talk to you about that sweaty money that is so crucial to funding the Rotary Foundation. As we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of TRF, its time for those of us who can afford it to step up to a different level of giving to fund the good works that Rotary does in the world. And to do that, I’m suggesting we become more familiar with how to make a Major Gift to TRF. To start, take a look at the fantastic piece from RI called, “Major Gifts, Major Impact – Rotary.” (Just type it into Google and download the PDF.) Here’s a few highlights:
Six pages on why TRF is one of the most interesting and important charities in the world. Followed by:
You can make a Major Gift with a minimum of $10,000.
You can make a pledge to fund a Major Gift over a three- year period with three equal payments of only $3,330. (The time period of your pledge is negotiable, as is most everything else in life.)
You can make a named gift to the Rotary Endowment Fund with a gift of $25,000 or more, or a pledge of $25,000 or more. You have a lot of flexibility in determining what will be funded with the earnings from your gift.
You can make what’s called a term gift that gets spent immediately on TRF’s areas of focus, the SHARE program, Polio Plus, and the Rotary Peace Centers.
You get recognition for your entire gift in the year you make your pledge. So if you are giving $5,000 per year for five years to the Endowment Fund to benefit the SHARE program, you get recognition for a $25,000 gift. Which is, by the way, Major Donor +2 recognition. (Your District only gets credit for the $5,000 you give each year.)
(ANOTHER NOTE: Don’t take my word for any of this. Contact the Major Gift officer in your District to get accurate and complete information. I’m probably screwing up at least half of these details, but hey…I’m trying to make a point here.)
So here is a last thought to consider. The Rotary Foundation is proudly celebrating it’s 100th anniversary at the International Convention in Atlanta in 2017 where Rotarians will congratulate ourselves for our amazing achievement of reaching the goal of $1 billion in our Endowment Fund. At 5% per year the Endowment earnings will help fund $50 million of needed Rotary projects around the world. But here’s an interesting statistic for you. At $2 billion in value, the payout of $100 million per year WOULD EQUAL the annual contributions we make for Polio Plus, INCLUDING the Bill and Melinda Gates matching contribution. Wouldn’t that be extraordinary!
So, as we enjoy the holiday season, and look forward to meeting next year in Atlanta, let’s make a promise to ourselves to look into a Major Gift to the Rotary Foundation. And if we can’t afford to make that kind of commitment, then let’s remember that Rotary encourages all of us to give what we can afford. Last time I looked, we still have a little work to do towards our goal of world peace.
Happy Holidays Everyone!