In many ways, The Rotary Foundation is an invisible presence in our clubs. Most of what we do in our clubs and our districts, on a weekly basis, we do without the active involvement of the Foundation. But our Foundation is invisible in our clubs in the same way the foundation of a building is invisible when you're in it: Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not holding you up.
The Foundation that enabled Rotary to take on polio is, in many ways, the foundation upon which our Rotary service is built. For 100 years, since it came into existence with a first donation of $26.50, the Foundation has supported and strengthened our service, enabled our ambitions, and allowed us to be the organization that we are. Because of the Foundation, Rotarians know that if we have the ambition and put in the work, very little is truly beyond us.
It is an incredibly effective model that we have here in Rotary, one that no other organization can match. We are completely local and completely global: We have local skills, connections, and knowledge in over 35,000 clubs, in nearly every country of the world. We have a deserved reputation for transparency, effectiveness, and good business practices, and because we are highly skilled professionals as well as volunteers, we achieve a level of efficiency that very few other organizations can approach.
To put it simply, a dollar given to The Rotary Foundation has a great deal more muscle than a dollar given to most charities. If you want to spend a dollar on Doing Good in the World, you can't do better than to spend it with the Foundation. That is not just me speaking out of pride; it is verifiably true and is reflected in our rankings by independent organizations.
In the Foundation's centennial year, Rotarians surpassed our goal of raising $300 million. If you were part of that achievement, you have been part of something tremendous. Somewhere in the world, someplace you have probably never been, people you may never meet will lead better lives because of you. Ultimately, it is our Foundation that lets us make good on our core beliefs: that we can make a difference, that we have an obligation to do so, and that working together, as well and as efficiently as we can, is the only way to effect real and lasting change.