Over the years, quite a number of people have asked me about how their contributions to The Rotary Foundation (TRF) are used to create grants.
Any Rotarian with a good idea has the ability to apply for a grant to invest in projects. While there are some specialized types such as Rotary Peace Scholars or Rotary Exchanges, most Rotarians know about two basic types of grants - Global and District grants.
A Global Grant has a minimum grant amount of $30,000 but it also has the most leverage since it can get “matching funds” from both the District and The Rotary Foundation. Most notably, Global grants are in cooperation with two Rotary clubs in different countries who work together. Since they are more complex and involve international cooperation, global grants have a number of requirements for determining the need, sustainability and stewardship.
A District Grant has a very small minimum, has a simplified application process, and can be done by a single club in the local community.
Here’s a simple overview of how the money flows:
Rotarians donate to TRF. The funds are invested and earn a return for three years before being used to fund projects. The return on the investment partially helps fund the operations of the Foundation.
At the end of three years, 50% is retained by TRF to be used as “matching” funds. The Foundation also leads the charge in dedicated Rotary campaigns such as the eradication of polio and promoting peace. Those funds are separate from the “Annual Fund” that invests in service projects.
The other 50% (minus a small percentage to help defray administrative costs) becomes available to the District to be used by local clubs. Half of these returned funds (roughly 25% of contributions from three years ago) are reserved to be used for the District’s “matching” of approved Global grant and other projects.
The remaining amount is used to fund District Grants. These are available to clubs via a simplified grant application. While there are some requirements for stewardship and reporting, these funds are available for funding existing or new projects.
The "magic" comes when an individual Rotarian has a new idea and proposes a new project to their club. If approved by the club, that idea can bring change to the world. Each and every Rotarian has that same opportunity to design a project that serves others – and find the resources not easily available otherwise.