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Cliff Dochterman - Great Memories

I had no idea who Cliff Dochterman was until I heard him speak at PETS (President Elect Training Seminar) in 2006. Cliff, a past President of Rotary International, was a master communicator. Humorous but always with a message that touched peoples hearts.

Cliff published a book with a number of his speeches from which I took both information and inspiration. Here's an address I gave in 2016 at our Foundation Gala, and updated last year as a post for our club.

The Rotary Foundation - Beginning

Back in 1917, a fellow named Arch C. Klumph had an ambitious dream.

A self-made lumber magnate and founding member of the Rotary Club of Cleveland in 1911, Klumph had a philanthropic vision that Rotary “should accept endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world.”

After launching his idea publicly at the Atlanta Convention in 1917 and receiving favorable response, the first donation was received from the Rotary Club of Kansas City the following year. It was $26.50 left over from their convention.

Arch Klumph was both a visionary and a pioneer.

You can always spot the pioneers by the arrows in their backs. It took more than 30 years before The Rotary Foundation started getting traction when, in 1947, Paul Harris made it his dying wish that anyone who wanted to truly honor his memory would do it in the form of a donation to The Rotary Foundation.

A year-and-a-half later, the fund had raised over $1.3 million from Rotarians around the world. Before Klumph himself passed away in 1951, he charged Rotarians to use the foundation as a “mighty lever, to move the world.”

And they have done that since, in ways both large and small.

Initially using Foundation funds to aid Rotarians displaced by the Second World War, the Foundation over time began to think bigger and bigger.

From its first program, Fellowships for Advanced Study (later known as Ambassadorial Scholarships), the foundation later awarded its first gift of $500 in 1930 to the International Society for Crippled Children (Easter Seals).

That led to the 3-H program (Health, Hunger and Humanity) and the first 3-H Grant was awarded in 1979 to immunize six million children in the Philippines against polio.

In 1980, Rotary vowed to eradicate the polio virus through global immunization and we started fundraising for that effort.

Originally, The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the Centers for Disease Control thought Rotary was too small to be a partner.

But according to Cliff Dochterman’s account “when we told them in 1985 we had raised $240 million for vaccines and had 1 million volunteers to help deliver them, they said ‘Come on in’ and the PolioPlus program was launched.” To date, we have immunized more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.

What started as 1,000 cases each day has now been reduced to less than one per month. In the world!

Matching Grants

1966 was the start of Matching Grants, evolving into Global Grants with the Future Vision program.

Our Foundation has now funded more than $3 Billion in grants for Rotary clubs to perform what is essentially Community Service… but on a global scale.

While we may view them as International projects, they are really community projects. Projects in 34,000 communities in countries all over the world. And we help each other.

Our reach is phenomenal because Rotary creates friendships that reach around the world.

We help our friends. And they help us… and others. Because we are all Rotarians.

A path to peace

Cliff Dochterman said:

A world half starving and half overfed will never be a world at peace.

A world half sick and half healthy will never be a world at peace.

A world half illiterate and half educated will never be a world at peace.

A world half enslaved and half free will never be a world at peace.

A world of prejudice, intolerance and distrust will never be a world at peace.

With our friends in other clubs, we are providing solutions to advance Peace.

Food, water and shelter

Water & Sanitation Projects in Guatemala.

Corazón House Builds in Tecate, Mexico

Orphanages in Vietnam

Disease Prevention & Treatment

Clinics in Guatemala

Telepresence System for burn center in Chili

Maternal & Child Health

Shoes for the Souls, Tijuana, Mexico


Peace and Global Grant Scholars

The Future

With PolioPlus, we currently enjoy partnerships with UNICEF, WHO, CDC and the Gates Foundation

Our future lies in these types of partnerships. When we conquer Polio, we’ll gain even more credibility and have a tremendous opportunity to form new alliances.

And the Gates Foundation isn’t going away. While Rotarians have contributed more than $1.2 Billion to Polio, the Gates Foundation will have around $6 Billion invested by the time we’re done.

Malaria Partners International, formerly Rotary Malaria Partners, has coordinated the first “Rotary Programs of Scale” – a $6 million project to attack malaria in Zambia. This is a joint effort by Rotary, The Gates Foundation and World Vision – each contributing $2 million.

Why? Because we are the “Boots on the Ground” that no other organization can match.

And all from your caring, your hard work, and your generosity.

Thank you, Cliff, for your humor, inspiration and humanity.


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