By Omar Bortoletti, Endowment/Major Gifts Adviser for Zone 14
The Rotary Foundation reminds us constantly why we are here. It reminds us who it is we serve. It reminds us that these days, these hours, while we yet walk this earth – that this is our time and we must grasp it.” These were the words of K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran, Trustee chair of The Rotary Foundation, during the recent major donor event organized by District 2060 in northeastern Italy.
Rotarians in Venice, Italy (under the leadership of District Governor Diego Vianello), had long planned to host Ravindran during Foundation Month last November, but when the pandemic persisted, we found ourselves organizing a virtual event in lieu of an in-person dinner to recognize new major donors.
Moving the event online offered certain advantages: due to the low-cost of a Zoom call, the invitation could be extended to more guests. In the end, 170 participants attended, including current and new major donors and bequest society members, current and incoming district leaders, and Foundation supporters from around northern Italy. In addition to Ravindran, other Rotary VIPs could connect from afar, like Trustee Sangkoo Yun from Korea and RI Director Roger Llhors of France.
One challenge with the virtual format we faced was how to make each of the 16 new major donors feel special and appropriately recognized, even though the traditional major donor pin and crystal could not be presented in person. Through the advance planning of my team of District Endowment and Major Gift Subcommittee Chairs, each donor submitted a photo of themselves carrying the crystal and wearing their pin. These were developed into an elegant, running slide show.
To add a personal touch, we accompanied the photos with a short quotation from the donor, describing what motivated them to make a gift to the Foundation this year. The result was a personal, heart-felt testimony of the very different reasons why Rotarians support our Foundation. Whether they gave to honor a loved one, or to meet a community need, or because of their trust in Rotary’s financial management and the impact of its areas of focus, each donor offered insight into their individual humanitarian values.
A bittersweet moment concluded the gathering when posthumous recognition was given to Ambrogio Locatelli, a long-time Rotarian who passed away just days after making a major gift to the Foundation. As recounted by his wife, Rotarian Mariangela Donà Locatelli, one of his dying wishes was for her to complete his commitment and create a named, endowed fund to support humanitarian projects. In honor of Ambrogio’s service and dedication to Rotary, the first annual Ambrogio Locatelli Award for Friendship and Solidarity was presented to Ravindran, along with a gift of 10,000 Euro to the World Fund from the The Rotary Club of Morimondo Abbazia in District 2050.
For the Locatelli family and all those present at the event, it was inspiring to witness that Rotarians, including those whom we have lost during this time, can continue to make a lasting impact in the world through their generosity to the Foundation.