The mission of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is to enable Rotarians to achieve world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. The Rotary Foundation is organised as a separate corporation within Rotary International for legal and tax liability reasons.
The Foundation has the ability to review, organise and implement international programs of major humane benefit at minimal administrative cost.
The Rotary Foundation was begun in 1917 by Arch Klumph, sixth international president of Rotary. He convinced a Rotary convention of the need for an endowment for “doing good in the world”. The proposal was successful and the fund became a reality with the receipt of its first contribution of $26.50. In 1928, The Rotary Foundation was further strengthened by the appointment of the first Board of Trustees.
In 1948, the first program providing graduate scholarships for overseas study were introduced.
The Rotary Foundation now funds each year:
- Scholarships for undergraduate students.
- Group Study Exchanges.
- International humanitarian projects through a range of grant programs.
- Immunisation activities which will eradicate polio.
- Rotary peace programs.
Funds are raised at the district and club levels for the Annual Programs Fund. These funds are invested for three years and then distributed under the SHARE system, which allocates 50 per cent for District Designated Fund (DDF) programs, whilst 50 per cent goes to the World Fund to support international projects.
In 1994 The Australian Rotary Foundation Trust was established to allow tax deductibility for donations to The Rotary Foundation by individuals and corporations of $2 and over.