An Investment Opportunity

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By Frank Deaver 

American financier J.P. Morgan (1837-1913) was once asked what he expected the stock market to do. He answered in one word: “fluctuate.” Rotarian investors have witnessed that fluctuation over recent years, with exciting gains followed by frustrating losses. But Rotary offers an investment that in so many ways out-performs even the best years of the stock markets.

More for your money. A stock market investment typically offers (at least in the short run) less for your money, with deductions for trading fees and annual management fees. The Rotary Foundation, however, offers 100 percent investment in benefits for every dollar contributed. Donations received by the Foundation go through a three-year investment cycle, with earnings paying for administrative costs. Then the full amount of a Rotarian’s contribution goes into educational and humanitarian programs. Even more for your money — in years when investments perform well, more than 100 percent of contributions can be channeled into awards.


Two-for-One. A grocery sale promotes ice cream, “buy one carton, and get one free.” Rotary’s matching grants offer a Rotary Club not only two-for-one, but sometimes as much as four-for-one. If a club gives $1000 for a project in another country, a partner club there can match the contribution, doubling the impact. Each club’s district can allocate from its District Designated Fund (DDF) any multiple of the club’s contribution. And in some

circumstances, RI may match up to 100 cents on the dollar. Wow! A $1000 club donation can, under some circumstances, be doubled, tripled, even quadrupled, for an educational or humanitarian project!

• Cash Back. An automobile dealer’s ad offers “cash-back” on the purchase of a new car. But when a district’s Foundation contributions are totaled each year, 50 percent of the Annual Programs Fund is allocated back to its District Designated Fund, allowing the local district to decide how best to use that share of member contributions. Those amounts may be used for Rotary Scholars, Matching Grants for International Humanitarian Projects, Group Study Exchanges, and more. Districts get “cash-back” for discretionary spending on Rotary programs largely of their choice.

Extended Warranty. Some commercial products may be guaranteed for a number of years of service, or even “for life.” Rotary Foundation contributions may be made either to the Annual Program Fund or the Permanent Fund. The latter, as its name implies, is Rotary’s endowment — a fund whose principal is never spent and investment earnings are channeled into service programs. Its initial goal of $200 million was quickly surpassed, and the fund continues to grow even as its proceeds are put to work.

Past RI President Bill Boyd said, “Rotarians know the value of a good investment,” and “a dollar or a euro or a yen given to the Foundation can do much more than anyone might expect.” The Rotary Foundation, he said, “is a major reason Rotarians are able to accomplish so much.”

The obvious economic message, in these fluctuating times, is that a Rotarian’s donation to the RI Foundation is indeed a good investment.

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