President Huang literally, is a member of a whole family of Rotarians

GaryHuangphoto-150pxBy Gary C K Huang President 2014 – 15

If you take a look at the Rotary calendar, it’s easy to see where our priorities as an organization lie. The Rotary year begins in July; in August we mark Membership Month, in September we celebrate New Generations, October is for vocational service, and so on, turning our attention to different topics that are important in Rotary.

It’s a great idea to do this, because it reminds us to talk about subjects that we might otherwise overlook during our busy Rotary year. But we all know that every topic on our calendar – from fellowship to our Foundation – is important. All of them are part of what makes Rotary what it is, and what makes all of us Rotarians.

In Rotary, December is Family Month. Looking back on my years as a Rotarian, I have seen how important family is in Rotary – and how important Rotary can be to our families.

Gary C K Huang and family

My wife, Corinna, chose to join Rotary just a few months ago, after many years as a Rotary spouse. All three of our children are also Rotarians. All of them joined their own club, in their own time. All of them have found unique interests in Rotary. As we have watched them find their own paths, we have been struck by how wonderful it is to have so many members of our family involved in Rotary service.

Rotary gives us something good that we can all do together. With Rotary, we always have interesting things to talk about at dinner. We are all involved in different service, in different clubs, so when we sit down together, we are talking about humanitarian needs of every kind, in every part of the world. There is always something new to learn.

Our conversations are also a wonderful way to teach our children, through our own actions, what is really important in life. They learn about what life is like in different parts of the world, and how all of us have an obligation to help others when we can. I can think of no better lessons to teach our families than the lessons of Rotary service.

I hope that in this Rotary year, many of you will encourage your family members to join Rotary, Rotaract, or Interact. Bringing your family into Rotary doesn’t just Light Up Rotary – it lights up your own lives as well.

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Who are the most important people in Rotary?

BKenny_John-150pxy John Kenny , Trustee Chair 2014 – 15

In his inaugural address, U.S. President John F. Kennedy made this often quoted exhortation: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

The same sentiments could be applied to the membership of Rotary.

Whether Rotary will survive or whether it will falter, whether our service will mean much to many or little to few, whether Rotary is known with respect or seen as a relic of days gone by, will be up to each and every Rotarian.

There is so much to be done in our world – to educate the illiterate, feed the hungry, provide shelter to the homeless. Our world is still ill divided, and the gap is not shrinking between the haves and the have-nots. But to whom much has been given, much is expected.

The most important people in Rotary are not the directors of the Board or the trustees of our Rotary Foundation, but the individual Rotarians working quietly in their clubs to assist those in communities who are less fortunate than themselves, for whom they know the need is great. This is Rotary at its finest: Rotarians identifying a need and responding to it.

For many, this is a special time of year. May it bring to each of you the blessings that it offers.

As we Light Up Rotary, let us remember that the future of our Foundation is in your hands.


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Anti-vaccine movement may have global repercussions

Originally posted on Status of Eradication of Polio Worldwide:

(This article was written by John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International and published online by the Union-Tribune in San Diego. It is related to PolioPlus and the effort to eradicate polio))

Supporters of the anti-vaccine movement question the safety, efficacy and necessity of the very medicines that have so greatly reduced our children’s risk of catching a host of once-common but potentially very serious infectious diseases, such as mumps, measles and whooping cough. |

Supporters of the anti-vaccine movement question the safety, efficacy and necessity of the very medicines that have so greatly reduced our children’s risk of catching a host of once-common but potentially very serious infectious diseases, such as mumps, measles and whooping cough.

And then there’s polio, the disabling, sometimes fatal virus that was every American parent’s worst nightmare until effective vaccines were developed in the 1950s — and which still infects children in the…

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Top 10 things you should know about the new Rotary Foundation funding model

This is a followup to the May 2, 2014 post Trustees Approve New Rotary Foundation Funding Model

140616_riseleyBy Ian Riseley, Rotary Foundation Trustee, Foundation Finance Committee chair

I’ve been very involved in the development of our Foundation’s new funding model and have closely followed the questions being raised about it in social media and elsewhere. The new funding model for The Rotary Foundation was developed because our ability to continue “doing good in the world” depends heavily on the Foundation having long-term financial stability. In the interests of improved communication and understanding of the changes, here are 10 important things to know about the new model, which becomes effective on 1 July 2015

1. Rotarians and clubs will benefit

Rotary’s strength lies in the talents and dedication of its members and clubs. The recent recession showed that we must have adequate reserves in our Rotary Foundation to ensure that we don’t have to cut programs and services in times of poor investment returns, and the increased volatility in financial markets emphasized the need for an adequate level of reserves. The new funding model is necessary to ensure resources are available to support the work of Rotarians now and in the future. The Foundation’s current policy is to maintain an operating reserve equal to three years’ worth of operating expenses.

2. PolioPlus Fund contributions are not affected in any way

3. Endowment Fund Contributions are not affected in any way 

4. District Designated Funds are not affected in any way 

5. 5% of Annual Fund contributions are set aside from the World Fund. 

After Annual Fund contributions are invested, 50% will continue to go to District Designated Funds (DDF) and 50% to the World Fund. The 5% being set aside to help pay for the Foundation’s operating expenses will come from the World Fund, but will only be used if needed to pay those expenses or to fully fund the operating reserve. If they are not needed for those purposes, they may remain in the World Fund for grants.

6. 5% of cash contributions for global grants set aside

Under the current system, cash contributed in support of a grant by clubs and districts requires administration, but provides no investment income to meet the cost of that administration, because the funds are not retained by the Foundation for any length of time and therefore do not generate investment income. The 5% set aside from cash contributions for global grants will help pay the costs of processing, etc. It is not uncommon for many clubs to support a single global grant, and some clubs include payments from many members, thus requiring donor recognition to be processed for each contribution. Cash may also need to be converted into one of the 28 official Rotary currencies and then transferred to an international bank account for the project to be implemented.

7. Up to 10% of corporate gifts set aside

Using up to 10% of large corporate contributions for operating expenses is a well-accepted practice among donors to charities. By obtaining such gifts, the Foundation can increase support for the projects in our areas of focus. Our polio eradication efforts, for example, have benefitted greatly from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s support. Up to 10% of these gifts will contribute to our administration costs, thus leaving more funds to support the grants for clubs and districts.

8. A communication plan is in place

The Trustees recognize that open, clear communication fosters Rotarians’ continued support of, and active involvement in, Foundation programs. The first step in the funding model communication plan was an announcement on with a link to Securing Our Foundation’s Future. Watch for more information in Rotary media, coming soon.

9. Training and resources are being developed

Training manuals for officers and committees at the district and club levels are being updated, and webinars and e-learning modules are being developed. For details,

10. The Foundation has a record of financial stewardship and transparency

Our Foundation has consistently earned high ratings for sound fiscal management from Charity Navigator and other agencies. Find more on Foundation finances and ratings.

Questions or comments? Please, contact

I hope you will continue to make our Foundation one of your preferred charities. Every contribution is important and deeply appreciated. The projects and work we accomplish together as Rotarians are life changing.

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Woeful, Wobbly, Wonderful Websites

by John Borst Communications Director, District 5550

One has to wonder why many Rotary clubs even bother to have websites.

The woes are many. Among the worse sins are:

  • wordless banners
  • presidential themes that are out of date
  • the latest story is years old
  • a list of newsletters that scroll on forever
  • a simple lack of content

I think you get the picture. If even some of these features are representative of you club’s website perhaps it would be better if it was mothballed until someone in the club was trained and volunteered to work on it on a regular basis.

The Wobbly Middle Continue reading

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Retention: 6 Reasons to Let Them Go

by John Borst, Communications Director District 5550

Conventional wisdom in Rotary is to put effort into retaining members, in equal measurer to recruiting new members.

After a year as a President, I think this is a mistake. There are many good reasons why retention may not be a good idea.

(1) Lifestyle situations today are in constant flux.

If we put an over emphasis on retaining a member we run the risk of being insensitive to the changing demands or circumstances of a member. Marriage or partnership break-up, lay offs, employment mobility, swings in income and travel demands are just a few of the fields which can dramatically change a members ability to attend or even participate in Rotary.

In this case either grant the Rotarian a Leave-of-Absence to permit them to sort out the situation or wish them the best in their future endeavors.

(2) The changing demographic of a club.

At some point all clubs have to reinvent themselves. This often doesn’t sit well with long established members for whom the club has become a weekly social get-together.

imageIn this case explain to the member that the needs of the club must take precedence over the desire of the member to retain his former image of the club. Invite him to partake of the new drive the club is experiencing but in the end for the good of the club if the member is not willing to accept the changes occurring, he should be encouraged to end his relationship with Rotary.

(3) Encourage new members to try out Rotary

Often, when recruiting new members they are not sure of Rotary’s full scope, or the demands it will place on their time and pocketbook. Invite them to join and use it as a learning opportunity. Even if they do end up leaving, they will, in all likelihood have gained a much better understanding of how the club brings benefit to the community and how it is working for good in other areas of the world.

(4) Choice is a societal expectation

Compared to the 50s and 60’s when Rotary growth was at it nadir, choice has become a dominant expectation as part of a consumer society. Today’s youth expect to be able to come and go when they chose. Loyalty to an organization of any type is no longer given the status it had in the 20th Century.

There is little a club can do about this trend in social behavior. Like a trial membership the positives out weight the negatives in helping more key members understand and appreciate the goals of Rotary. It is still too early to know what the long term effects the issue of choice will have on the future of the organization.

(5) Use Leavers as a Opportunity to Self Evaluate

Regardless of the reason a member chooses to leave, the president or membership chair should sit down with the member and discuss his reasons for leaving especially the things they like or dislike about their experience with the club.

No club is perfect. The leaving member may have valuable insight into ways which the club can attract new members or suggest changes in format which would enhance the Rotary experience.

Certainly, if a club finds they are experiencing a high turn over rate among new members it is a sign that they need to do a serious self examination.

(6) Retention is not just a matter of mathematics.

On the surface it makes mathematical sense to say the more members you retain while increasing new members the more members your club will have.

But being a Rotarian is not just a numbers game. Even an index such as Jim Henry’s Lifetime Value Index can’t account for the exigencies of human behavior, or the ebb and flow of life’s personal challenges and interests.

If you think about it the Four Way Test is both a good tool for a Rotarian to use to judge her future role in Rotary and a good set of criteria for a Rotarian leader to use to just to let a Rotarian leave of her own accord.

Let’s face the facts, retention is not something over which we have much control. We recognize this for death and serious illness but other reasons for leaving Rotary are equally serious and equally beyond our control.

In the end what is in our control is asking new members to joint us in fellowship, community and “service”.

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TRF Chair Describes Goals of The Rotary Foundation

trusteechairDKLee-100x150by Dong Kurn (D.K.) Lee, TRF Trustee Chair 2013-14

Some of you know the words of actor Christopher Reeve: “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they become inevitable.”

I began my year as Rotary Foundation trustee chair with four goals: to eradicate polio, build ownership and pride in our Foundation, launch our new grant model, and engage in innovative partnerships and projects. It has been an exciting year of change, growth, and new achievements, and as I end my term, I am inexpressibly proud of the work I have seen Rotarians do. Continue reading

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