Category Archives: Foundation

It’s Time to Step Up to a Major Gift to The Rotary Foundation

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!

 

 

 

 

Update on Dare to Dream Polio Documentary Project

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It’s been some time since I updated you on the progress of the Dare to Dream polio documentary.  It is a story that takes place from 1978 to 1988, and sets the stage for what we think of as Rotary’s Polio Plus campaign.  We are now well into our shooting schedule and have had the opportunity, and the privilege, of interviewing Past RI Presidents, Clem Renouf and Cliff Dochterman, who were instrumental in forming the first 3H Committee that laid the foundation for Rotary’s polio eradication efforts, and Dr. John Sever, who was deeply involved in helping Rotary choose polio eradication as a priority project and remains a leader in our polio eradication efforts today.

I call these men our living “Founding Fathers” of Rotary International’s polio story.  That they can still tell the story first-hand is a gift for all of us since many of our great leaders from that period of Rotary history have now passed away.  And believe me, they are GREAT story-tellers!  We interviewed each of them for about two hours and they gave us a first hand glimpse into the first steps of what is one of the most important, and historic, public health partnerships ever created.

Here is just a quick teaser of 95 year-old Past RI President, Clem Renouf,  interviewed at his home in Australia.  You can see the gleam in his eyes as he talks about overcoming challenges.

Here’s a short clip of Dr. John Sever,  talking about how we need to continually remind ourselves that polio is a terrible disease.

And finally, here’s a clip of one of Rotary’s great all-time story-tellers, 90 year-old Past RI President, and original 3H member, Cliff Dochterman.  We filmed Cliff at his home in California.  My DG class had the opportunity to see Cliff give his famous “DG is like conducting an orchestra” speech at the International Assembly in San Diego.  His interview for Dare to Dream was awesome.

Now that we have our “stars” on film, our next step is to “fill in” the details of the story.  It turns out the story isn’t just about Rotary.  It’s also about public health policy and the history of how an NGO could partner with governments and public health organizations to change how health care is delivered around the world.  What’s great for us is that Rotary’s actual history with polio eradication is full of drama, suspense, and yes….humor (if you think being tossed out of your own seminar about social mobilization and oral polio vaccine in Geneva is hilarious.)  As we continue the research for the documentary, we continue to grow more enthusiastic that we have a great yarn to spin.

If all goes as planned, the production will feature Rotary’s two foremost historians on the subject of polio eradication, Sarah Gibbard Cook, author of Rotary and the Gift of a Polio Free World, and David Forward, author of Doing Good in the World, the Inspiring Story of the Rotary Foundation’s First One Hundred Years.  We also will be interviewing Dr. Stephen Cocci, Senior Advisor, Global Immunization Division of the CDC, and Dr. Bruce Aylward, former Director of the WHO. Finally, we have some formidable past and current Rotary leaders scheduled to be interviewed, including Past RI Director and Polio Plus Chair, Bob Scott, and current Chair of Rotary’s Polio Plus Committee, Mike McGovern.

What’s left?  Well….we are still trying to raise the money we need to honor the financial commitments we’ve made to the folks who are actually producing Dare to Dream.  PLEASE go to www.DaretoDreamfilm.com and click in the upper right corner to make a donation. Oddly, we have several large donors to the project, but comparably few Rotarians who made a small, tax deductible donation.  I know a lot of Rotarians who’ve told me they want to support this documentary.  Why not go to the website and make a small contribution today?

And while your at it, why not go to www.Rotary.org and make a small contribution to Polio Plus?

We are going to distribute this film to Rotarians worldwide.  I hope you will consider a small donation so we can tell this amazing Rotary story.

Congressional Champions of Polio Eradication Reception

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Dr. John Sever, the MC for the evening who is also THE Rotarian who formally recommended that Rotary undertake polio eradication as a world-wide challenge, and RI President-Elect, John Germ.

If you ever find yourself completely depressed about politics, politicians, the political process, and all the things that you see and hear about government that make you want to cringe, I suggest you find a way to wangle an invitation to the Rotary Congressional Champions Reception held each year at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The event honors the Representatives who best champion U.S. giving to the polio eradication effort.  I promise it will make you feel a lot better about the understanding, caring, and downright good stuff being done by our Representatives in Washington, DC.  The numbers are staggering.

According to Kris Tsau, my favorite head of Rotary’s advocacy efforts for polio eradication, here are a few facts that are sure to impress:  In FY 2016 the US provided US$228 million for the polio eradication activities of the CDC (US $169 million  – 10 million above the FY 15 level); and USAID ($59 million – level funding from FY 2015).  This a significant achievement considering an overall reduction to CDC’s budget.  Kris says we are asking for a total of $233 million next year: $174 million for CDC and $59 million for USAID.  NOTE: THIS IS A WHOLE LOT OF MONEY!!!

I’ll get to our Congressional Champions in a minute, but first, your intrepid RFA reporter was able to track down some of Rotary’s top leaders in our international polio eradication effort for an interview.  Here’s a gal you may have never heard of, but who does an amazing job for all of us:

Pretty interesting about finding the virus in the environment and treating it, isn’t it?  Director of Rotary’s Polio Plus Program……not too shabby.  Or, how about this guy?  (Note: These Rotary leaders seem remarkably cheerful even though they had to tear themselves away from the free food and open bar to do these interviews. I guess $228 million tends to cheer you up.)

Did you catch that?  Mike is the Chairman of the Rotary International Polio Plus Committee….another Rotarian who we might want to thank for his efforts.

Finally, I thought you should meet one of the most selfless Rotarians I know who travels the country teaching us about Post-Polio Syndrome.  Thanks, John, for everything you do for us.

 

About those Congressional leaders that we should be so proud of.  Here they are:

  • Senator Roy Blunt (M)), Chair of the Senate Labor Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee
  • Senator Jef Merkley (OR)
  • Senator Brian Schatz (HI)
  • Representative Tom Cole, Chair of House Labor health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee
  • Representative Dave Reichert, Co-chair, House Global Health Caucus.

Other members who took the time to visit with us included:

  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9 – Represents the district that includes RI HQ)
  • Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-6, Member, Rotary club of Birmingham)
  • Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-2; Member, Rotary club of Columbia)
  • Senator Bob Corker (TN)
  • Senator Thad Cochran (MS) (Rotary Foundation Alum – Graduate fellowship scholarship in 1963).

So, we need to keep doing our part by giving to Polio Plus each year. Of course, I can’t let you go without reminding you that we are producing a documentary about the Rotary “founding fathers” who had the courage and foresight to put us on the road to polio eradication.  The documentary is called, Dare to Dream, and we really need some help with the funding.  So AFTER you cut a check to Polio Plus to help eradicate this terrible disease, please see if you can scrape up as little as $20 to honor the unsung Rotarians who deserve our recognition and our thanks.

Click on this link to visit the Dare to Dream page and see the movie trailer.  www.daretodreamfilm.com.

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No reason for this picture at all but I thought it looked “arty”

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PDG 7620 and Rotary Foundation Global Alumni Service to Humanity awardee, Peter Kyle, with Past RI Director, Anne Matthews

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L-R:  7620 Young Professional Task Force leader, Clarissa Harris, Rotary Peace Fellow, Kristin Post, Dupont Circle Membership Chair, Rachel Eisen, Kaiser Permanente Health Plan, Janini Ramachandran,  Deputy Director of the CDC, Anne Schuchat, and  Elliott Larson, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan

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Dr. John Sever with his daughter, Valerie Kappler

Champions classmates

With DG classmates Janet Brown, DG 7610, and Alex Wilkins, DG 7570.  Notice that JB and Alex are rocking nifty DG pins.  Me….not so much.

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Dare To Dream, The most important Rotary story you’ve never heard.

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I am very proud to announce to my long suffering Ready, Fire, Aim readers that this blog post celebrates reaching the milestone of 1/4 of a million visits to RFA since October of 2013. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to visit.  In the 135 posts that I’ve shared perhaps the one theme I’ve been most enthusiastic about is the notion of “scaling”  Rotary to do bigger and more impactful projects.  I thought we could celebrate in style today by learning about one of the most  dramatic and intriguing stories in Rotary history.  If you don’t think that the only limit to what you can accomplish in Rotary is your own imagination, then this true story just might change your mind.  If you agree with me about the power of this tale, then I am going to ask you to join me in funding an important project that is uniquely important to all of us.

Prologue:  In 1923 the delegates to the RI Convention in St. Louis passed Resolution 23-34, which basically prohibited Rotary International from compelling individual Rotary clubs to participate in national or international service projects.  It also advised clubs not to seek publicity or credit for their service, but only the opportunity to serve.  This was the guiding principle for Rotary International for the next five decades….

Our story begins:  1978-79 RI President, Clem Renouf,  created the Health, Hunger, and Humanitarian program which was meant to identify service projects that would be centrally funded and coordinated by RI.  This would provide a means to do service projects that could be much larger in scope than any one club could implement.  He was inspired by news that the WHO had recently eradicated smallpox at a cost of $100 million.  He asked why Rotary couldn’t do something similar.  The year before Rotary had created a fund to celebrate Rotary’s 75th anniversary in 1980, called the 75th Anniversary Fund. Rotarians had contributed $8 million to the fund which was designed to raise $12 million in two years and then spend it over the next five years.

Renouf called one of his District Governor’s, Dr. John Sever, who was chief of the Infectious Disease Branch, Institute of Neurological Diseases, U.S. National Institute of Health, near Washington, D.C., and asked his advice.  Sever was a colleague of Dr. Albert Sabin, the researcher who developed the live, oral polio vaccine.  After consulting with Sabin, Sever wrote to Renouf with his recommendation that Rotary consider eradicating polio for all the children of the world.

From the day Sever wrote the letter to Renouf, to the day when RI President, Carlos Canseco, announced what was then called the Polio 2005 Program, (now known as Polio Plus) in 1985, a few determined and visionary Rotary leaders steered our organization on a course that could lead Rotary to achieve one of the most important public health successes in history.   The results of their efforts are so staggering that we sometimes forget that in 1978-79 there were approximately 1,000 cases of polio every day in the developing world.  (As of this writing, so far this year there have been nine total cases.)

Shouldn’t we know more about the heroes of this amazing Rotary story?  On the eve of our most spectacular success, perhaps you agree with me that it is important to memorialize the men and women who cooked up this crazy idea.  What can we learn from them?   Names like Renouf, Sever, Canseco, Pigman, Stuckey, Dochterman, and many others, should be etched on Rotary’s own Mount Rushmore.  It’s a shame that most Rotarians have never heard of them.

Perhaps the best part of the story is…..it’s a GREAT story.  It is a truly INSPIRATIONAL story. Our Rotary history from this period was chock full of high drama. Conflicts get resolved. Challenges are overcome.  Who knew?  And the best part of telling this particular tale is that many of the heroes are still alive. We still have the opportunity to get first person accounts from them about  how we got from there to here.  I’ve heard some of these anecdotes and I believe it would be a tragedy if we lose this opportunity to record them for posterity.

With your help, the Rotary District 7620 Project Trust Fund, a 501(c)(3)  non-profit organization, is going to produce a documentary called, “Dare To Dream, How Rotary Decided to Eradicate Polio.”  Before I tell you more about the documentary and how you can help us fund it, take a look at the movie trailer:

 

Dare to Dream will be produced by Pixel Workshop, an award-winning production company owned by Dave and Ilana Bittner.  Dave is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent.  Co-Producer, Ilana Bittner’s mother was a polio victim.  For both of them, this project is a labor of love.

We hope to raise $100,000(U.S.) to produce a one-hour “Ken Burns” style documentary. Our first goal is to raise $50,000 which would fund a 22-minute production, suitable for Discovery Channel, the History Channel, or PBS, as well as being suitable for club programs.  We are creating a “Kickstarter-like” campaign that relies on small donations from a large number of donors as our primary means of raising the funds we need.  The minimum donation is only $20!  Each donation has an incentive for giving.

Check out the website at www.daretodreamfilm.com    

Once we complete this phase of the campaign, we will create a Kickstarter campaign to fund post-production, if for no other reason than we want the hundreds of thousands of people in the Kickstarter community to see this trailer and learn more about Rotary.

Finally, I want to reiterate that although RI is fully aware of our project, this is a completely INDEPENDENT production.  RI is helping us with access to Rotary archives, coordinating international distribution, and helping us to meet celebrities that could help with the production.  But this film is NOT financially supported by RI and won’t be produced without your help.

PLEASE send the link to this blog post around to your Rotary friends, and to your non-Rotary friends, if you think they might want to invest $20 or more to help us spin a great yarn….which happens to be true….and which happens to be our own Rotary history.

One final note to Rotary clubs and Rotary Districts:  There are special incentives to Rotary clubs and districts who make a $1,000 contribution to the film.  We are offering the opportunity to have a custom 3 – 4 minute introduction appended to the beginning of the film with your District or club’s reasons for funding the project, and perhaps your personal request that your members continue to fund Polio Plus.  Also, please note that this contribution is tax deductible and is suitable as a grant from both Rotary Club Charitable Trusts and from Rotary District Designated Funds.

Thanks so much to all of you!  And now, everyone….let’s get back to working for world peace.

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Dr. John Sever shooting the trailer for Dare to Dream.

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How to Close a Rotary Deal

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I’ve written about this topic several times since RI President, Ravi Ravindran, visited our District and pointed out that the best way he knew to get a huge PR presence in our community was to do a large and impactful project.  When I later pointed out to him that our clubs didn’t know how to do large and impactful projects, he shrugged his shoulders and basically said it was time for us to learn.

As your Ready, Fire, Aim guide, spiritual leader, and all-round good guy, I am going to walk you through exactly how to close a deal in Rotary.  I absolutely guarantee that you can take the tips I’m about to share and double the impact your club has in your community.

Step one is for you to realize that your Rotary membership entitles you to “sell” certain benefits to business owners and stakeholders in your community.  These benefits are of great interest to others who want what we have to offer.  These benefits constitute our value proposition to non-Rotary partners and you need to learn them and keep them “top of mind” when talking about what we do.  Namely, Rotarians can offer 1) great brand, 2) great ideas, 3) manpower, 4) club/local Rotary Trust money, and 5) Rotary Foundation money.  Let’s take these one at a time.

Great brand:  You may not realize it, but there are very few impeccable brands out there that businesses would want to partner with.  Rotary is one of them.  Since 1905 we’ve been delivering objective, non-political and non-religious community service to communities all around the world.  It’s likely that the businesses and other stakeholders you will be speaking with will know Rotary,  if only because their father or uncle was in Rotary.  And while Rotary may still have (in some quarters) a reputation for being “old white guys,” the fact is we are thought of as “old white guys who get things done” in our town.  The opportunity for a business owner to put his brand or logo next to ours is a big deal.

Great ideas:  Great ideas close sales.  What is your big idea?  How can you help other organizations “think outside of the box?”  Your willingness to take a great idea out to the marketplace will attract the attention it deserves.  Think big.  Be enthusiastic.  Find a project that will make a BIG difference, or a SMALL difference.  You don’t have to do a $1 million project to have a large impact that will attract the attention of a business owner in town.  Just recognize that businesses ARE interested in your ideas for changing things for the better, especially in their home town.  They WANT to be associated with providing solutions to local problems, both for their employees and their customers.  What does your community need?  Who might be interested in helping you solve them? Most importantly, the idea you fund doesn’t have to be your idea.  What problem do the big and small businesses in your community want to solve?

(SPECIAL NOTE:  I think going to very large business to do deals is problematic, unless you know someone who is a decision maker there.  Once an idea has to be approved by “corporate” you are pretty much lost.  Find a business with 100 – 200 employees.  That is plenty big enough.)

Manpower:  Rotarians must understand that our ability to rally other Rotarians to a cause has value in the marketplace.  The secret is that it’s not just the Rotarians in your Rotary club.  How many Rotarians are in your neighboring clubs?  Let’s say you have five clubs in your county with an average of 30 members.  When you talk to Larry’s Automotive Repair and you tell them that you have 150 eager and anxious community leaders in Rotary that want to partner with them to solve “X” problem, Larry is going to be interested.   Whatever problem needs to be solved, it’s likely that you will have a lot more hands available to do the work than Larry, and that is a powerful negotiating tool. And don’t think for a minute that Larry isn’t thinking that he would like to get to know 150 new potential customers.

Money:  Yes, we have money.  Does you club do a fundraiser or two?  Do you support 3 – 20 charities and non-profits in your community? Every dollar you distribute to non-profits could be a matching contribution with another business partner to support the SAME charity.  When you go to Larry’s Auto Parts and say, “Larry, I have $3,000 to support a project we are doing with “X” charity, we want to partner with you IF you will match our $3,000,”  Larry will be intrigued.  It could be Laura’s Auto Parts but you get the idea.  Larry or Laura  is used to being begged for handouts.  He isn’t used to being asked to partner in doing a deal.  Every dollar you give directly to a non-profit without a community business partner is a dollar that could have been doubled if you just think a little differently.  Remember to let Larry know that if he doesn’t do the deal you have two or three other businesses in town that have already expressed interest.

Rotary Foundation money:  There is nothing more powerful when talking to a potential partner that discussing the opportunities we have to apply for and receive a local Rotary Foundation grant.  If your club, or another club who wants to partner with you, is eligible, then talking about a “matching grant” that is likely to be approved IF a business will partner with you is like talking about crystal meth to a Breaking Bad fan.  I promise you that if you submit a well-written grant proposal that includes a matching contribution from a corporate partner, it is going to be well received by your District grant committee. The best part is that you don’t have to actually have the grant.  You just have to remember to talk about it and apply for it.

Before I tell you how to structure the deal, it’s time to take a 3 1/2 minutes time out to watch an expert close a deal.  I’m not sure Vin Diesel in Boiler Room is the role model we should be aspiring to, but Rotarians need to understand that if we want to have more impact we need to learn how to close a deal.  (Notably, there are a lot of Wall Street movies out with similar scenes but this is the only one I could find without sixteen “F” words in the mix.)

To take your newfound knowledge about Rotary’s value proposition out to the market, you need to learn the power of the “IF” statement.  Here are a few of them for you to consider:

“Mrs business owner, if I could bring 100 Rotarians and $5,000 to the table, would you be interested in matching our contribution and being a 50-50 partner in a project that you’ve always wanted to do for the community to solve “x” but haven’t been able to get it done?”

“Mr Business Owner, if we formed a partnership to eliminate poverty, hunger, and sickness in our community, and if we could put your company logo along side of our Rotary logo so the 100,000 residents in our community would think you are the engaged and caring person you really are, would you be interested in being a 50-50 project owner?”

“Mrs Charity Administrator, we would like to solve your biggest problem, whatever it is?  If we could bring a corporate sponsor to the table, and if we could provide $10,000 in financing, and if we could provide the manpower to get it done, would you be interested?”

“Mr Business Owner, if you partner with us and match our $5,000 contribution to this project, we will submit a grant to our District’s Rotary Foundation for an additional $3,000.  Your $5,000 will be leveraged to a total project of $13,000 and we will still consider you a 50-50 partner.  Does that sound interesting to you?”

The “If” question is where it all starts.  Notice that you haven’t committed to anything.  You are just asking whether they might be interested “if” you can make something happen. The power lies in the fact that once someone, anyone, in the deal answers yes to your “if” question, then you can tell others that they will be your partner, “IF” they participate as well.

There you go, folks.  Go out and close a deal!  You can do it.  If we all put together a partnership like this Rotary PR is going to become a whole lot easier….and so will membership.  Good luck.

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Washington Post article: By tracing cellphones, Pakistan makes inroads in war against polio

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A Pakistani health worker administers a polio drop to a child during a vaccination campaign in Peshawar. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)

I’m probably going to get into trouble for this… (sigh).  If anyone from the Washington  Post objects to me reprinting their article on Polio Eradication that appeared in the Post on November 18th, contact me and I will gladly take down this post.  (Note to Washington Post:  Please don’t sue me because I still have to make my Paul Harris Society contribution to the Rotary Foundation for this year.)  I thought Tim Craig’s reporting was fantastic and the news continues to be positive.  I know my RFA readers will be disappointed that Rotary (once again) isn’t more prominently mentioned in this article, although a quote from Aziz Memon, chair of Rotary International’s Pakistan PolioPlus Committee, is included in the discussion about women being an important part of a successful new strategy to reach Pakistani households.   You will be glad to know that RI’s PR department is gearing up for a worldwide public image campaign about polio eradication once we’ve got this thing licked.  In the meantime, enjoy this account of what is going on with Pakistan’s effort to eradicate polio.

November 18

In a surprising turnaround, Pakistan appears to be finally getting a handle on its polio epidemic, thanks to unorthodox tactics such as tracking residents’ cellphones.

The 85 percent decline in new cases this year is boosting confidence that Pakistani officials are on pace to stop the spread of the virus here, perhaps as early as next year. If Pakistan can achieve that goal, the world will take a major step toward becoming ­polio-free.

In late September, the World Health Organization declared that polio was no longer “endemic” in Nigeria, leaving only Pakistan and Afghanistan on the list of countries where the crippling virus continues to spread.

The revelation that the CIA had used a fake vaccination campaign to gain intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in 2011 had been a huge blow to Pakistan’s efforts against the disease, especially in areas where Islamist militant groups were strong.

But as the militants have loosened their grip on Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt, health officials are vaccinating hundreds of thousands of children for the first time.

As a result, Pakistan has reported 40 new polio cases this year, compared with about 240 at this time last year. Pakistani officials say they believe they are on track to vaccinate nearly all children younger than 5 by next summer.

“If the next few vaccination rounds are implemented, and we continue to reach all the children we need to reach, we should be home very soon,” said Mazhar Nisar, head of Pakistan’s emergency polio office. “The key challenge had been security, but now the government has taken that on head-on.”

Many international health experts remain skeptical that Pakistan can rise to that challenge, citing bureaucratic obstacles and uncertainty that the country’s improved security can be maintained. Last month’s earthquake, which killed more than 200 and left tens of thousands of residents homeless, served as a reminder that Pakistan has a reputation as a magnet for crises that quickly distract political leaders and relief organizations.

But Hamid Jafari, director of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative for the WHO, said Pakistan’s government has shown progress as it lurched onto a war footing to combat the disease.

“You see the senior officers of security agencies, and the Pakistan army, now sitting with program managers in emergency operations centers co-planning and co-coordinating,” Jafari said. “You get a very good sense that all the ministries of the government are involved.”

That coordination began late last year as Pakistan’s army pressed into North Waziristan, which had been controlled by Taliban militants and was largely off-limits to vaccination teams.

When more than 100,000 families were evacuated from the area, they were stopped at roadside checkpoints and forced to take a drop of the polio vaccine.

Later, when the displaced residents were registered at refugee camps, they were given a surprising offer: free SIM cards for their phones.

Unbeknownst to the recipients, health officials used the SIM cards to track them as they resettled in other parts of the country. Their locations were mapped in new polio-eradication command centers. When clusters of residents from North Waziristan were identified, teams were sent out to again administer the vaccine.

“We were able to trace them, map them and follow up with them,” said Safdar Rana, head of Pakistan’s Program on Immunization.

The controversial strategy was combined with outreach to religious leaders, the creation of community health centers and a renewed push to put women — not men — on the front lines of the campaign to eradicate polio. But as with many other aspects of life here, the battle against polio is inextricably linked to efforts to overcome the threat posed by Islamist militancy.

Attacks on polio vaccination teams, provoked by the CIA ruse in 2011, resulted in the deaths of 74 people from 2012 to 2014, including 41 last year. So far this year, however, the number of deaths has dropped to 10, according to government figures.

With security improving, health officials are able to vaccinate more children. They estimate that just 16,000 to 18,000 Pakistani children are still “inaccessible” to vaccinators compared with the half-million who were out of reach two years ago.

Back then, that large reservoir of unvaccinated children in North Waziristan and a few other places threatened to become an incubator from which the virus could spread to other countries.

In 2013 and 2014, for the first time in more than a decade, 36 new infections were reported in Syria while two cases surfaced in Iraq. Health officials said they believe the virus was transported to the Middle East from Pakistan. The new cases horrified the WHO, which began publicly shaming Pakistani leaders to step up their response.

Since then, Jafari said, there has been considerable progress in the global fight against polio. The last reported case in the Middle East was in April 2014. The last reported case in Africa was in Somalia in August 2014. Nigeria has not reported a new case since July 2014.

But the gains made in Pakistan this year are threatened by continued insecurity across the border in Afghanistan, Jafari said. To be declared “polio-free,” Pakistan and Afghanistan must go three years without any reported cases, he added.

Vaccinators have been unable to reach 30,000 to 60,000 Afghan children because security has worsened in eastern provinces, Jafari said, in part because Pakistan’s military has driven thousands of militants across the border. So far this year, 13 new polio cases have been reported in Afghanistan, a slight increase over last year’s pace, Jafari said.

The continued potential for cross-border spread of the ­virus has health officials gearing up for a new fundraising drive. The five-year, $5.5 billion budget for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative will be depleted at the end of 2018. An additional $1.5 billion will need to be spent to continue the campaign through 2019, Jafari said.

In Pakistan, the money has helped pay for 2,000 community health centers that entice parents with basic health-care services and provide an opportunity for medical staffers to vaccinate children.

Pakistani officials also report success in recruiting 4,000 “community volunteers,” with a special focus on attracting women to the jobs who become the public face of vaccination campaigns in their neighborhoods. In conservative areas, mothers are more likely to invite another woman into the house than they are a man.

“This has been a game-changer because now they are able to reach households we missed earlier,” said Aziz Memon, chair of Rotary International’s Pakistan PolioPlus Committee.

Officials also arranged a series of meetings with religious leaders to try to enlist their support in combating rumors that the vaccine can make children sterile or gay.

As for the tracking of North Waziristan residents, Rana said the SIM cards were initially designed to give the government a way to notify the displaced residents about when they could pick up cash assistance payments. Intelligence agencies also had an interest in keeping tabs on where the displaced residents were, according to government officials familiar with the matter.

But when someone suggested that the SIM cards could also be used in the fight against polio, Rana said that his office, the army and the country’s telecommunications office quickly implemented a plan that involved the tracking of about 75,000 families.

“We saw an opportunity, and we took that opportunity,” Rana said. “We will continue to look for opportunities to finish this job.”

Read more:

Muslim scholars join vaccination effort as violence hinders Pakistan polio drive

CIA vaccine program used in bin Laden hunt sparks criticism

Polio fighters in Pakistan struggle against myths and realities

Shaiq Hussain contributed to this report.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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The Magic of Thinking Big in Rotary

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When asked, “why doesn’t Rotary spend more money on PR?”, RI President Ravi Ravindran responded with the easily predictable answer, “We don’t have the money to do a massive media campaign.”  But what he said next was worthy of our attention.  Speaking to a Town Hall Meeting of forty District 7620 Club Presidents, he related the following advice.  “If you want to solve all of your membership and PR problems, find a solution to a major problem in your community.  We have many smart Rotarians in our clubs.  Come up with the plan and the sweat equity to get the project done.  Don’t worry about the money.  The money will find you.  When the community understands that Rotary helped solve an important problem in your town, all of your membership and PR problems will be solved.”

My initial thought upon hearing this advice, coming from a guy who built what…twenty two elementary schools and a hospital in his home country of Sri Lanka, was ARE YOU KIDDING?  Who is going to teach our clubs how to do deals like that?  But the more I think of it, the more I think he is exactly right. What important, impactful, community changing projects are we involved with in our Rotary clubs?  And how do you figure out how to do such a project?  Who do you partner with?  How do you assess the big needs in your community?  How do you get the funding?  I’ve come to the conclusion that we might not be thinking big enough in Rotary, at least at the club level.

While I’m on the subject of The Magic of Thinking Big, let me strongly recommend you read the classic book on the subject by David J. Schwartz.  It’s one of those books that might change your life.

Here’s a real life “big idea” story that just happened in Zone 33-34.  When the DG class of 2015-16 first got together as DGN’s, they took the measure of each other and realized that collectively they had a remarkable lack of ego.  As they got to know each other better the notion of doing a service project together was broached over an appropriate number of beverages at a hospitality suite at the following year’s Zone Institute in Asheville, NC.   After watching a spellbinding presentation by Marion Bunch, Founder and CEO of the  Rotary Action Group, Rotarians for Family Health and Aids Prevention (RFFHA), at that same Institute, Marion was asked a simple question.  Since we had 29 Districts in our Zone, and if hypothetically all of them contributed $2,000 of DDF to a project, and if we got matched by TRF dollar for dollar, then we would be dealing with a chunk of change of about $116,000. The question was, “hey…can we do a deal with you where we can fund a Rotary Family Health Day for about a $100,000 price point?”

Guess what?  The answer was yes and the Zone 33-34 Ghana Family Health Day project was born.  As it turns out, no one at Rotary International knows of another project that was funded (as it ultimately turned out) by 22 Districts.  Not clubs.  Districts.  Yes, different DGs in the Zone handled the fundraising in different ways, with some getting club contributions.  But most found a way to fund the project using District DDF.  The Ghana Rotary Family Health Day project benefited 40,000+ Ghanians.  The total cost of the project was $114,000.  My District’s investment in the project was $3,000 of DDF.  I hope you will take a second to watch this three and one half minute video about how this got put together.

NOTE:  The video itself was conceptualized, written, and produced, in about three hours at this year’s Zone Institute in San Destin, Fla.  The video itself is a tribute to how a big idea can come to fruition when you have motivated, talented, and passionate Rotarians involved.  We are rewriting the script to focus more on Rotary clubs and I will post the final version on RFA when its complete.  In the meantime, take a look at this.

If you happen to be looking for a great program for the month of November (Foundation Month), why not check out this award winning documentary produced by RI all about RFFHA and Family Health Days.  It’s twenty four minutes long and perfectly tells a story about a Rotarian who learned about thinking big.  (Click on About Us and then Documentary.)

Let’s try to take RI President Ravi’s advice and think bigger.  After all, there is nothing limiting the scale of the service projects we take on other than our own imagination, our skill, our ability to create partnerships, and our determination.  Since its Foundation Month, it might be a good time to remember that if you want to do a BIG project, the Rotary Foundation is standing by to help.   All you need is a great idea that falls into one of the six areas of focus, a bunch of qualified partner clubs who share your vision, a strong international partner, and someone who can write a grant.  Why not?  Let’s do this!!

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The Cure For Polio Exhaustion

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I’m not sure everyone has heard the term “polio exhaustion” before.  It refers to Rotarians who are tired of hearing about polio eradication.  I suppose its entirely understandable as Rotary has been at this polio eradication game since 1979…or 1982, depending on what constitutes Rotary’s start date battling the virus.  No matter what date you use, three decades is a long time to be focused on eradicating one disease.  And it’s a long time to be asking Rotarians to be donating to the cause.

If you talk to “old timers” in Rotary they often will tell you (with a little bit of a sigh) that they have heard that we are “this close” to success many times in the past.  I can’t speak to what happened back in the day, but I can’t imagine that the Director of Polio Eradication for the World Health Organization has stated that “we are months away” from seeing global polio-free months before.  I dunno.  People tend to exaggerate when they are raising money so who knows who said what in the past?  Here’s what I do know….there ain’t no polio exhaustion in District 7620 nowadays!

I suspect that the actual numbers, combined with the news that the Continent of Africa has been declared polio free, combined with public statements from WHO Polio Eradication Director, Hamid Jafiri, and others, forecasting even better news in the immediate future, has everyone feeling a new level of excitement about our commitment to eradicate polio.  I guess the cure for polio exhaustion is polio success.  Who knew?

Nowadays many Rotary clubs have been meeting Rotary International’s goal of contributing $1,000 per club to polio for so long that the amount is baked into the club’s budget, and consequently is just another club expense that is paid when a member pays his or her dues.  It’s not much different than paying the restaurant bill.  When the club is making the donation the average club member isn’t as engaged in supporting polio AS THEY WANT TO BE.  Yup.  I’ve been hearing from Rotarians all over the District how excited they are about the news and how they want to be a part of our success.

Ever eager to meet the demands of our members, District 7620 is holding a full day workshop to learn about how to handle conflict at home, in the workplace, or in Rotary.  The workshop costs $125 for the entire day of training led by Conflict Transformation Associates.  These pros at corporate training are donating their time for the day.  The venue is Charlestown Retirement Community, which is also donating space as well as being a sponsor for the event.  Oh…the video promoting the event was produced by Rotarian Dave Bittner at Pixel Workshop.  (Yup…donated the time.)   And the comedy is supplied by good friend and Rotarian, Roy Felipe. (I wouldn’t say Roy donated the time. No one would pay him, anyway. )  The straight man?….Yours Truly.

All of the net proceeds go to our effort to eradicate polio.  If we sell out the event we can raise about $25,000…and with the Bill and Melinda Gates match we could be talking about raising more than $75,000 for polio.  I know Tuesday is a work day, but folks, you will want to tell people you dug into your pocket to support Rotary’s polio eradication efforts. And as you are about to see, we can all use a little work at managing conflict.

Shameless promotion?  You bet.  We need to sell a lot more tickets.  Registration is open at www.rotary7620.org.

And for those who want to know….the next big project for Rotary International?  Can you guess?  The cure for male pattern baldness!

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ROTARY S.W.O.T. Analysis in District 7620

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Ask any Past District Governor (as I have) about the best part of being a DG, and they will, without exception, talk about how great it is to visit the Rotary clubs in their District.  Now that I’ve completed 29 official club visits I can absolutely confirm that they are correct.  It is TOO MUCH FUN to visit the Rotary clubs in our District.

But for me, the best part of the official visit is not the twenty minute program I do for the entire club, although putting on “the show” is something I look forward to.  For me, the opportunity to meet with the club’s leadership team either before or after the club meeting has been extremely interesting and  rewarding.  Why?  Because our conversation is something akin to a Rotary version of a SWOT analysis.  Business types will recognize the acronym as standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  To have an earnest and frank conversation with club leaders about their Rotary club is a privilege for any District Governor, but it is especially so for a Rotary wonk like me.  EVERY club’s leadership team is engaged in making their club better….whatever that means to them.  In our conversations club leaders have been extremely frank in their assessment of their clubs, and I’ve enjoyed sharing best practices from around the District with the team leaders.

I thought I would share some of the comments that I’ve been hearing repeatedly from many different clubs.  (I’ve put them in quotes but some of this is paraphrased.)  These comments come from very large and very small clubs from every geographic area of the District.  It turns out that many clubs are dealing with similar issues and have similar thoughts about what makes them unique in Rotary.  Like I said, the conversations have been positive and earnest.  Thank you to everyone who has participated so far!

Regarding “thinking big” about service projects that engage Rotarians and the local community:

“You just don’t understand what it’s like here in Howard County.  We have so many non-profits operating here that there really isn’t much left for us to do.”

“We have a unique problem here in Carroll County because of the number of non-profits serving the community.  It’s pretty difficult to think of a project that isn’t already being addressed.

“Have you ever looked at the number of non-profits in Montgomery County?  OMG!  There is no way to come up with a program that is unique and will engage the community with the kind of services already being provided in the community.”

“Howard County is so rich that if something needs to be built, the county government will build it.  The key is to find “holes” in the social safety net that county services don’t cover.”

Regarding what makes any particular Rotary club unique.  Why should someone join your club?

“Our club is unique because we have a lot of fun.  When people visit they can see that we are good people.”

“Our club is unique because of the fellowship we enjoy.  We do lots of things outside of Rotary that are fun.”

“We have a great group of people in this Rotary club.  That’s what makes us unique.”

Regarding challenges to growing the club:

“It’s been hard to get new members because we are a breakfast club and too many people simply aren’t morning people.  Also, potential members don’t want to have to rush to work after our meetings.  We would do better if we were a lunch or evening club.”

“We are a breakfast club but we don’t meet early enough.  There are a lot of defense contractors in this community and they come to work by 5AM.  Our 7:30am meeting time is too late for them.”

“Our problem is that we are a lunch club.  This is a bedroom community and local residents commute to work so there is no way they could join.  We would be better off as a breakfast or an evening club.”

“It’s hard to get new members because we are a dinner club.  People with families don’t want to tie up an evening with Rotary instead of being home with the kids.  We would be much better off as a lunch club or a breakfast club.”

“Younger people are not really interested in community service.  They are a just too busy raising families and starting their career.”

“We don’t want to be a bigger club because we will lose the special relationships we have with each other as a small club.”

“It would be exhausting to do a “hands on” service project each month.  We simply don’t enough people to do it and everyone is already burnt out.”

Regarding the Rotary Foundation:

“Yes we have a Foundation Chair.  …..No, not the RI Rotary Foundation.  “x” is our club’s Foundation Chair.”

“We were very disappointed to find out last month that our Club Treasurer didn’t properly submit our contributions to the Rotary Foundation.  We don’t know what happened to the funds.”

“We used to give to the Rotary Foundation but a few years ago they refused our application for a grant for our “x” project.  Jim got really pissed off and now we don’t contribute any longer.”

Regarding the club’s strategic plan:

“Yes we have a strategic  plan but we haven’t let anyone see it yet.”

“We did our strategic plan a few years ago.  ….No, I don’t know where it is.”

“I don’t think our members can clearly state the purpose of our Rotary club and what we do for the community.”

“We don’t have a strategic plan but our plan for each year is to win the Presidential Citation.”

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Guess what?  Creating and maintaining a vibrant Rotary club ain’t easy.  But the best clubs in our District have at least a few of these things in common.  No surprises here, but here they are:

They have a clearly defined mission in their community.

They engage their members in hands-on projects.

The community recognizes the good works of the Rotary club.

The business community sees Rotary as a networking opportunity.

The club has clearly defined long-term goals.

They have a well structured leadership succession plan.

The club is well organized in terms of the Board.

Only 32 more visits to go!  If you ever get the chance to do this DG gig….THROW YOUR HAT IN THE RING!  You will be glad you did.

 

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Rotary Peace Centers – A “Stellar” Program of the Rotary Foundation

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Unless you are on the District Leadership Team you don’t get to attend Council of Governors (COG) meetings.  The COG is comprised of District 7620’s Past District Governors. Four times each year the poor District Governor has to drag himself or herself before this distinguished body of Rotary experts and try to explain why the District won’t be imploding any time soon.  I had my first interrogation….er….meeting with the COG early this week.  They were kind and encouraging and let me know, in their wise and twinkly-eyed way, that every single new idea our current team has ever had about Rotary had been tried before in our District…typically with great success.

So I’m minding my own business and wondering if I can eat the sticky buns and juice at the back table without getting icing on my hands and messing up my notes, when I see Past District Governors (PDG’s) Peter Kyle, Larry Margolis, and Rob Brown, in earnest discussion somewhere between the coffee and the sweet rolls.  Because the three of them have collective resumes in and out of Rotary that are extraordinary, and because I had nothing else to do at the moment, I sidled up to listen.  It turns out that all three are heavily involved in one of the most exciting programs in Rotary that you hardly ever hear about.  So I asked them, politely, and deferentially, bowing and scraping before them, if they would permit me to interview them for RFA about the Rotary Peace Fellow Program.  After consulting with their agents, all three agreed to sit for a brief interview after the COG meeting.

(NOTE:  As you will see, all three of these Peace Fellow experts were determined to get their message across to the RFA audience.  I tried to get them to understand that you, my much appreciated readers, are used to me publishing pure Rotary nonsense, but they didn’t seem to get it.  So here is an unusually useful, productive, and educational piece on the Rotary Peace Centers.  I will get back to publishing my typical stupid stuff next week.)

OK.  So let’s get this right.  PDG Kyle chairs the committee.  PDG Margolis is reading the Peace Fellow applications, and PDG Brown is screening the applications before they get to the committee.  Clearly these young men know what they are talking about.  Let’s listen further.

The “stellar program” of the Rotary Foundation?   Six premier universities around the world?  Peace and Conflict Resolution curriculum?  Got it.

I’m sorry.  Did he just say $80,000 to $100,000.  Better watch this again.  I’ll get right back to you.  Yup.  Two years Master program worth $80 to $100k.  That’s real money.

Are you kidding?  In this clip I throw these guys a comedy softball.  I’m talking comedic gold here, and what do they do?  You saw it.  They fairly fall over themselves trying to give each other credit for being the hardest worker or being the most important.  Next time I will coach them a little more so they have some better material.  Oh well…what can you expect from a Rotary Foundation Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award winner (Kyle), a Federal Judge (Margolis), and an Arch Klumph Society Member (Brown)?

Seriously, the Rotary Peace Centers Program has to one of the most fantastic programs offered by the Rotary Foundation.  It’s just another proud moment for District 7620 to have such committed Rotarians working so hard to make this happen.  Thanks Peter, Larry, and Rob for your service.  If you want to learn more about the Rotary Peace Fellows Scholarship Program and the Rotary Peace Centers, check it out at Rotary.org.  Or you can download the Rotary Peace Center Program Guide.

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