November is Foundation Month, and time for us to take a look at where we are in our Rotary Foundation: what it’s done, what it’s helping us do now, and how we can move forward.
Last Rotary year, our Foundation received US$304 million in total contributions: that included $140 million to the Annual Fund, $28 million to the Endowment Fund, and $108 million to PolioPlus. All of those gifts are now hard at work, Doing Good in the World: supporting Rotary’s work today and strengthening our organization for tomorrow. The Foundation approved 494 district grants and 1,260 global grants, with a total of $111 million in funding.
As you all know, polio eradication is the number one priority of Rotary and our Foundation. It has been a historic year for polio eradication, with unprecedented new support and fewer cases of polio than ever before. As announced at our Atlanta convention in June, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has increased its commitment to our polio eradication initiative, and will match 2:1 all Rotary contributions up to 50 million dollars, for the next three years. If Rotarians raise $50 million per year, the Gates Foundation will match this with $100 million: resulting in $150 million for polio eradication in each of the three years. In total, more than one billion dollars in new funding for polio were pledged by governments and key donors in Atlanta.
It was a great lead in to the 2017-2018 Rotary year, and Rotarians have been doing an amazing job not only of raising the money to fulfill our commitment, but keeping public awareness of polio high. Our fifth annual World Polio Day, on 24 October, was a great success; our livestream event, broadcast from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle, was our largest ever, with over 149,000 people viewing and Vice-President Dean Rohrs representing Rotary in the program. Another 3,428 World Polio Day events took place around the world. It’s not too late to be a part of it; head over to the End Polio now website to see the recorded video.
In 2016, 37 children were paralyzed by the wild poliovirus. So far in 2017, that number stands at 13. We are on our way to zero, and you can follow that journey with the updates that are published every week by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
It’s important to remember that we have to keep doing everything we can do to End Polio Now, not only until the last child is paralyzed, but until eradication is certified by an independent commission. We expect that to happen at least three years from the last time wild poliovirus is found, in a child, a water supply, or anywhere else. Only then will we celebrate the end of polio—and the greatest work yet of Rotary and our Rotary Foundation.
Rotary International President, 2017-18
Paul A. Netzel
Foundation Trustee Chair, 2017-18