The Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation, A Brief History

At the 1917 Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, President Arch Klumph planted the idea of creating a Foundation as part of the Rotary International organization.

The Rotary club of Kansas City, Missouri made the first donation to the Foundation in the amount of USD $26.50.

In 1926, the Foundation was officially named at the Minneapolis, Minnesota Convention and a Board of Trustees was established as a separate entity from Rotary International.

The Paul Harris Fellow recognition was established in 1957.

A matching grants program was launched in 1965 which allowed Clubs and Districts to fund projects using Foundation dollars.

In 1978 Health, Hunger and Humanity (3H) grants were established to expand service efforts.

In 1979 Rotary began immunizing 6 million children in the Philippines for Polio.

The PolioPlus program was launched in 1985. What is the Plus?

Spurred by Rotary's success, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988.

The Rotary Peace Centers were founded in 1999.

The Bill and Melina Gates Foundation issued its USD $100 million challenge in 2007. For each dollar donated by Rotarians, up to USD $50 million the Gates Foundation will donate two dollars to the PolioPlus initiative.

In 2021, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative initiated its Global Polio Eradication Strategy 2022-2026; an end game strategy for the elimination of Polio as a world-wide pandemic threat by 2026.

Foundation Participation

There are may ways for Rotarians to participate in Foundation giving.

Rotarians can donate to several different funds with varying purposes. The most common funds for donation include the Annual (Share) Fund which provides matching grants for local, International, and Global projects, the PolioPlus Fund which provides funding the the fight against Polio on a global scale, and the World Fund, and endowment fund that distributes earnings for use on projects worldwide. In addition, other Funds are available the focus on specific areas of service and support. Further information on Foundation Giving can be found at the Rotary Foundation Donate page.

There are several ways in which Rotarians can be recognized for their generosity in making contributions to the Rotary Foundation. Several fellowships, societies, and awards are available depending upon the level of giving and the manner in which donations are made. Further information on Rotarian Recognition can be found at the Rotary Foundation Recognition page.


The Grants Page provides more detailed information on each type of grant and how to apply for these resources.

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