Trustee chair's message


Trustee Chair 2014-15

June 2015

Each month, I have tried to highlight various priorities of our organization's largest charity, The Rotary Foundation. They were my own thoughts, but I hope you found them helpful.

Our principal goal is the eradication of polio. Some of you may ask why we are still pursuing this when many of your countries haven't had a new case of polio for years. It is important to remember that we gave our word to eradicate polio, but we have not yet done so. We must continue until we finish the job – until all the children of the world are free from this dreaded disease.

It is surely the wish in all our hearts that there is peace in our world. Our Foundation is endeavoring to advance this wish with the establishment of Rotary Peace Centers in various parts of the world – a pertinent program in these troubled times.

Our Annual Fund goal of US$123 million is still achievable if our giving continues at the same generous level. Every Rotarian should give to the Foundation, each according to his or her means.

In my final message, I would like to express my thanks to those dedicated Rotarians who have supported our Foundation during the year simply by doing good in the world. I am always conscious that Rotary is a volunteer organization. The important work of our organization is undertaken by the Rotarians who are helping those less fortunate in their own communities, and in communities throughout the world that they may never even see.

I have always deemed it an honor to have been president and trustee chair. Thank you for giving me that privilege.

Remember, the future of Rotary is in your hands.

May 2015

As we enter into May, we have two months left to ensure that you have made your contribution to Rotary's charity, our Rotary Foundation.

There is still time to ensure that it is greater than it was last year – our goal for the Annual Fund is US$123 million, the highest it's ever been. There's still time to ensure that we achieve our goal. And there's still time to ensure that your contribution enables our Foundation to continue to do good in the world – and that you can have the personal satisfaction of contributing to this in a meaningful way.

Remember that the good we can do is limited only by the contributions we receive.

May means that there's also just over one month until the Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil. Convention delegates like to know who will be speaking.

This year we have outstanding speakers on Foundation-related topics, both at the convention and at the Rotary Peace Symposium held immediately prior to the convention. They include Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Oscar Arias, Australian entrepreneur Steve Killelea, Rotary Peace Fellow Katia de Mello Dantas, and Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award winner Geetha Jayaram.

Arias was president of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and 2006 to 2010, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his role as architect and peace-broker in ending multiple conflicts in Central America. Arias continues to be an international force for peace-building through his personal activities and the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress.

Killelea is an Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist, known internationally as the developer of the Global Peace Index. In 2007, he established the Institute for Economics and Peace as a vehicle to build a greater understanding of the interconnection between business, peace, and economics.

Dantas received her master's degree in international development policy from Duke University in 2009. She works tirelessly on behalf of vulnerable children as the Latin America and Caribbean policy director for the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

I look forward to seeing you in São Paulo.

April 2015

When the new grant model for The Rotary Foundation was introduced under the Future Vision Plan, the Trustees decided that it should be reviewed in the 2015-16 Rotary year so that your experiences could help make our processes as effective as possible.

The Trustees recognize that grants involve many participants who may have different expectations, so I have appointed an independent committee of four past RI presidents to ensure that all views will be considered, and to ensure confidentiality to anyone who may want it.

The committee would like to hear about your experiences with the areas of focus and district and global grants, and to seek your ideas for any improvements that could make our Rotary Foundation the best possible. It comprises myself and Past RI Presidents Kalyan Banerjee, Ray Klinginsmith, and Bill Boyd, who will serve as chair. We welcome your suggestions, which you can email to

We will read and analyze your ideas and meet at the Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil, to decide on any items that should be given to the Trustees Programs Committee. That committee will undertake the necessary surveys to ensure we are reflecting the opinions of every Rotary member, and will report back to us at the January 2016 International Assembly. We intend to make our recommendations at the April 2016 meeting of the Trustees.

We seek your support to ensure that our Rotary Foundation continues to do good in the world in the best possible way.

March 2015

Now that the first year of the new grant model has been completed, it's time to see how it's working. One of the most positive outcomes is that more clubs and districts have banded together to implement larger, more sustainable projects. Our Rotary Foundation funded 488 district grants worth a total of $23.5 million and 868 global grants worth $47.3 million.

The Trustees are mindful of their fiduciary duty to ensure that Foundation funds are spent wisely. To help achieve this, clubs and districts have the support of The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers. These are Rotarian volunteers who have been vetted as specialists in one or more areas of focus, or in financial audits. Last year, on behalf of the Trustees, these volunteers carried out more than 153 assignments. Forty-four were technical (desk) reviews prior to funding approval, and 68 were mandatory on-site screenings for larger projects, either before approval or during the projects' implementation. The cadre also conducted 41 audits of projects and districts.

We have learned that some sponsors of global grants have struggled with needs assessments, sustainability, and monitoring and evaluation. This is where the cadre can be of practical assistance, so its members have been asked to increase their availability to grant sponsors from the start of the application process. Clubs and districts that sponsor grants can access this assistance by contacting their regional grants officer.

We are looking to add volunteers to our cadre in all areas of focus and in auditing. If you are interested in joining, email for more information.

The aim of the Trustees is to make the new grant model as user-friendly as possible to clubs and districts.

February 2015

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Birmingham, England. Bangkok, Thailand. São Paulo, Brazil!

Every three years, The Rotary Foundation sponsors a peace symposium as a preconvention activity. The next peace symposium will be held in São Paulo, 4-5 June.

The triennial peace symposium is the vehicle to showcase our Rotary Peace Fellows, who earn master's degrees and certificates through our Rotary Peace Centers; to educate Rotarians about this peace-related education and scholarship program; to introduce our donors and potential donors to the program; and to explore ways that Rotarians and peace fellows can collaborate in peace-building. Highlights of each symposium have included international speakers in the peace field, such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu; breakout sessions featuring peace fellows working on the front lines to build peace; and Rotarians active in the peace field.

This year, the first plenary session will feature 1987 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oscar Arias Sánchez of Costa Rica. He is a two-time president of Costa Rica, 1986-90 and 2006-10. During his first presidential term, he engaged the nations of Central America in peace discussions that led to the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords, and ultimately to the end of the various armed conflicts in the region.

The plans of the São Paulo peace symposium committee are creative and exciting, with elements not offered at past symposia. They will involve the 80 Rotary Peace Centers alumni in attendance.

If you have never attended a peace symposium, this is a special opportunity that will inform and educate you on Rotary's service to promote peace. If you have attended any of the symposia in Salt Lake City, Birmingham, or Bangkok, you will especially appreciate this innovative program.

I look forward to seeing you there!

January 2015

January: In Roman times, this was symbolized by the two-headed god Janus – one head looking back and one head looking forward.

This is the time for us to take stock and see, of the goals we set for ourselves at the start of the year, how many we have achieved, and how we can fully realize all of them by the end of this Rotary year.

How are we meeting our goal of polio eradication? Did we encourage our district to give 20 percent of its District Designated Fund toward the eradication of this terrible disease? Are we supporting National Immunization Days? There is still much to do. The number of polio cases in Pakistan in 2014 far exceeded the number in 2013.

Have you made your contribution to our charity – our only charity – our Rotary Foundation? Have we impressed on those Rotarians who have not made a contribution the need to do so? The number of Rotarians who have not given to our Foundation far exceeds the number who have given, and we need to reverse that statistic. Our target for the Annual Fund is US$123 million. Let us ensure that we reach it.

Have you considered taking advantage of the new grants program by using district or global grants? Last year, 858 district grants and 492 global grants were awarded.

Have you nominated a Rotary Peace Fellow candidate? Have you sought out a Major Donor to help fund the program? Have you registered for the Rotary Peace Symposium, just prior to the Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil, in June?

I have always held the belief that if the message of Rotary does not get to the Rotarian and the club, it loses its thrust. The Rotary club is the heartbeat of Rotary. What you make of the remaining months of the year, as you endeavor to Light Up Rotary, is up to you.

My New Year best wishes.

December 2014

In his inaugural address, U.S. President John F. Kennedy made this often quoted exhortation: "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country."

The same sentiments could be applied to the membership of Rotary.

Whether Rotary will survive or whether it will falter, whether our service will mean much to many or little to few, whether Rotary is known with respect or seen as a relic of days gone by, will be up to each and every Rotarian.

There is so much to be done in our world – to educate the illiterate, feed the hungry, provide shelter to the homeless. Our world is still ill divided, and the gap is not shrinking between the haves and the have-nots. But to whom much has been given, much is expected.

The most important people in Rotary are not the directors of the Board or the trustees of our Rotary Foundation, but the individual Rotarians working quietly in their clubs to assist those in communities who are less fortunate than themselves, for whom they know the need is great. This is Rotary at its finest: Rotarians identifying a need and responding to it.

For many, this is a special time of year. May it bring to each of you the blessings that it offers.

As we Light Up Rotary, let us remember that the future of our Foundation is in your hands.

November 2014

It is surely the wish in all our hearts that there is peace in our world.

Our Rotary Foundation is endeavoring to advance this with the establishment of Rotary Peace Centers in various parts of the globe.

The Rotary Peace Centers are the premier educational program of the Foundation, and this year I am asking Rotarians to foster world understanding, goodwill, and peace by promoting and publicizing the program so its work is enhanced.

The program funds up to 100 Rotary Peace Fellowships per year, for fellows to study at one of the Foundation's specially chosen universities. Fellows can earn a master's degree in peace and conflict resolution or a related field at Duke University and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in the United States; University of Queensland in Australia; Uppsala University in Sweden; University of Bradford in England; and International Christian University in Japan. Additionally, our professional development certificate program in peace and conflict resolution is offered through Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

The idea of the Rotary Peace Centers is to create a cadre of individuals who are dedicated to peace and conflict resolution, and who have been given the tools to succeed in their efforts. Since the program began in 2002, nearly 900 peace fellows have been engaged in peace activities throughout the world, working for nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, the World Health Organization, World Bank, and others.

To fund the program, the Rotary Peace Centers Major Gifts Initiative has set a target of US$125 million by the end of this Rotary year. This is an achievable goal, but it needs your continuing financial support.

This is a program pertinent to the 21st century, and one worthy of all Rotarians' support.

In these days of anger, of anguish, of uncertainty in our world, it is important to remember that the brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations.

October 2014

In each of my monthly messages, I have endeavored to highlight one individual Rotary Foundation goal for 2014-15.

This month, I wish to speak about the new grant structure and the reasons for its introduction. The Foundation Trustees identified a number of growing needs to improve efficiency, to streamline operations, and to focus efforts so as to achieve greater impact and public recognition.

Prior to Future Vision, the Foundation was processing over 4,000 grants per year, and the average humanitarian grant was US$12,500. With many of the grants smaller than this figure, the cost to administer the grants was increasing at a significant rate, and we needed more staff to process the growing number of applications.

In addition to striving for improved efficiency, the Trustees aimed for greater simplicity and a more streamlined process. The Rotary Foundation had 12 different programs, each with its own requirements and application procedures, to support educational and humanitarian objectives. We now have only two grant types: district grants and global grants.

By simplifying the process, the Trustees hope to enable Rotarians to reach a greater number of people to do good in the world; to provide a more efficient grants-making system, awarding fewer grants and large amounts at a reduced operational cost; and to give clubs and districts more ownership over the grant process.

I urge you to ensure the progress of our new grant structure through your continued participation in our educational and humanitarian projects.

September 2014

Help us reach our goal.

Rotarians are generous people. They give to many good, charitable causes in their communities but in many instances do not support their own charity: The Rotary Foundation.

This Rotary year, I would like to see every Rotary club make a contribution to our Rotary Foundation.

Remember that the good we do in the world is limited only by the contributions we receive. And when we give to our Foundation, we are not sending cash to Evanston – we are helping a blind man to see, a polio victim to walk, a child to grow to adulthood healthily, a student to become better educated, and a family to have food to eat.

Each year, the trustees of The Rotary Foundation set a goal for the Annual Fund – the fund that feeds the World Fund. This year, the goal is US$123 million, with each Rotarian being asked to contribute a minimum of $100. I am conscious that this figure would mean more in some countries than others. But Rotarians should give according to their means.

The slogan Every Rotarian, Every Year means exactly that. Every Rotarian should make a contribution to our Foundation every year. Make it a priority this year to impress on your club the importance of every club supporting our Foundation in some way.

As I said at the outset, Rotarians are generous people. I am sure you will translate that generosity into giving to our Rotary Foundation.

It is up to each and every one of us to do so.

August 2014

This year, we must finish the job.

Almost three decades ago, we Rotarians made a choice to give something far more important than money. We chose to give our word – our word that we would eradicate the poliovirus and create a future free of the disease.

But we haven't yet kept that word. We haven't yet made the earth polio-free. And in the words of Henry Ford, "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do."

In Rotary, we have been saying for many years that we are going to eliminate polio. It is my hope that there will soon come a time when we will be able to say that we've done it.

Rotarians throughout the world have been walking this road for many years. Polio eradication has been part of Rotary for decades now. We talk about it, we work toward it, and we've raised money for it – a great deal of money, over more than one campaign already. And now we are asking our fellow Rotarians, and being asked ourselves, to do and give more.

We recognize that there will be those who feel they have given enough already to the cause of polio eradication – those who feel we have done enough, and that it is time to move on. To those I say: If we pause, if we slacken now, if we say "almost" is the same as "did," we risk losing all that we have already given. We risk our own good name and the good name of all the Rotarians who came before us.

This is something that we as Rotarians cannot and will not accept. We must continue until we finish the job. 

July 2014

Goals for a new year.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve this Rotary year as chair of our Rotary Foundation. And we should be proud to call it our Foundation, for each day millions of people are touched by the magic of Rotary – made possible only by the service and dedication of Rotarians throughout the world.

Our Foundation is the engine that drives the Rotary machine. It gives us the chance to see and fulfill the opportunities for service both within our community and internationally.

Your Foundation Trustees have set five goals for the year.

The first goal is the eradication of the poliovirus from the face of the earth. We have much to be proud of in our efforts to rid the world of this dreaded disease, but we must finish the job. We cannot let up in our efforts. We cannot undo all the good work that has been done in the past.

Our second goal is to continue to support Rotary's own charity, The Rotary Foundation, through our contributions. The good that we do is limited only by what we receive. Let us ensure that clubs who have made no contributions to our Foundation do so this year.

Our third goal is to ensure the progress of our new grants program by participating in sustainable educational and humanitarian projects.

Our fourth goal is to foster goodwill and peace by promoting and publicizing the Rotary Peace Centers program, whose purpose is to create a cadre of individuals dedicated to peace and conflict resolution.

Our fifth goal is to emphasise that the responsibility for the future of our Foundation is in all our hands so that we can continue doing good in the world as we endeavor to Light Up Rotary.

I look forward to your support.
John Kenny
Foundation Trustee Chair