By Teree Bergman, an assistant regional Rotary Foundation coordinator
A new Rotary year began 1 July, and that means it’s time to begin a new effort to have our members participate in Rotary’s work by donating to the Annual Fund. Rotary’s Every Rotarian Every Year (EREY) initiative empowers every Rotary member to be part of the humanitarian accomplishments of The Rotary Foundation.
Let me share a number I find unbelievable. During the year that ended 30 June, only 44 of the 666 clubs in the southwest region of the United States where I serve as coordinator earned an EREY banner. That’s a whopping 6 percent! (And keep in mind, not every member has to give $100 to qualify for the banner; the banners go to clubs that achieve a $100 average per member with every member giving some amount, however small.)
It’s hard to understand why so few clubs earn these banners. What Rotarian doesn’t want to be able to say, “I helped improve health, alleviate poverty, and enhance education?” Why would a member attend a meeting every week and never give anything to the Annual Fund?
Surely we can do better. I do not know the reason that we have such a low percentage of donors, but I would guess that part of it is this: we fail to ask. The most common reason people say they joined Rotary is that someone they respected ASKED. It’s the same for the Foundation. If you want people to give, you have to ASK.
Think about it, a $100 annual gift, the benchmark for the initiative, comes out to roughly $2 a week. Who doesn’t spend at least that much each week on things they can’t even remember? That is about half the cost of a tall latte at Starbucks.
What can The Rotary Foundation do with your $2 a week ($100 annual gift)?
- Provide three cataract surgeries in India
- Buy 15 packets of teaching materials for a school in Costa Rica
- Feed a family in India or Pakistan for six months
- Bring clean water to 600 school kids in Africa
Not only do small contributions help do big things, but we, as Rotarians, have control over how the money is spent. Annual Fund contributions are divided between the World Fund and the District Designated Fund (DDF). Each district gets to decide how to use its DDF to participate in Foundation grants and activities, not just internationally but in your own local community if you choose.
Surely we can find a way to get every Rotarian to be a part of the Foundation’s wonderful work by giving. Let’s get more of those banners for Rotary year 2014-15.