Gary and Corinna Huang at Rotary's annual training event, the International Assembly, in January.

RI President Gary C.K. Huang and his wife, Corinna, at the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event, in January.

By RI President Gary C.K. Huang

As we begin a new Rotary year, I would like to tell you that I’m honored to be your Rotary International president and to stand with you as Rotary members.

Being a Rotarian is about a way of approaching the world and its challenges. There are many people in this world who need help and many changes that need to be made. It can be overwhelming.

Confucius and Rotary share similar ideas, and one idea from Confucius is that “It is better to light one single candle than to sit and curse the dark.” To me, this means that we shouldn’t lose hope and do nothing.

Instead, do something positive in your community, and let people know that Rotarians enjoy being together and working together. Involve your spouse and family in Rotary. Sharing your love for Rotary will recruit new members and keep current ones, and be the action that lights a candle.

Tell your community about Rotary

Holding a Rotary Day is a great way to share your love for Rotary with your community, friends, family, Foundation alumni, and Rotaract and Interact clubs. You can make your Rotary Day simple, you can make it fancy, you can make it a whole day or just a few hours. But do something for your community to show people what you do locally and internationally. Make sure your community knows that Rotary is there, Rotary is active, Rotary is fun, and Rotary is doing good work!

Download the Rotary Days brochure to learn more, and share your Rotary Day photos on social media using #RotaryDay.

I appreciate each selfless act of kindness you do and for sharing the love and ideas of Rotary. Thank you for joining me as together we Light Up Rotary!

  • Follow the president’s travels and see how Rotary members are celebrating Rotary Days in The Rotarian magazine and on the president’s Facebook page.
  • Upload your short video (less than 3 minutes) of a Rotary Day event to YouTube by 31 March and send a link with a description to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.to have your video considered by the president. He will select a winning video, which may be featured on Rotary.org and at the 2015 Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil.
  • Read more about President Huang in The Rotarian
  • Watch a profile of the president on Vimeo

I find many traditional Chinese values reflected in Rotary: values of service and responsibility, of respect for family and for others. Sometimes I call Confucius the world's first Rotarian, because even though he died 2,500 years before Rotary was founded, his ideas are very much Rotary ideas. And one of the things he said was: 與其抱怨,不如改變.

In English, you say, "It is better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the darkness."

I think that one line sums up the way we in Rotary approach the problems of the world. There is so much difficulty. There are so many people who need help. Many people look at this and say, "There is nothing I can do." So they do nothing -- and nothing changes.

But this is not the Rotary way. The Rotary way is to light a candle. I light one candle, you light one candle -- and so do 1.2 million other Rotarians. Together, we can do so much more than we could ever do alone. Together, we can light up the world.

In 2014-15, I am asking each of you to light your own Rotary candle -- and Light Up Rotary together.

There are so many ways to Light Up Rotary. I hope many of you will choose to host a Rotary Day, to show your community what Rotary is and what we do. I hope you will involve your Rotaract and Interact clubs in your service, to bring the new generation of the Rotary family closer to Rotary membership. And I hope you will keep Rotary strong by inviting new members into Rotary – including your own spouse and family.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do to Light Up Rotary is to finish the job we've been working on for more than a quarter of a century: the eradication of polio. We are so close to our goal. But we will get there only if we keep up the fight, keep up the momentum, and close the funding gap for the polio endgame plan.

Light Up Rotary is our theme for this year, but it is more than just a theme. It is how we in Rotary see the world and our role in it. We believe that no one should sit alone in the darkness. Instead, we can come together, all 1.2 million of us, to Light Up Rotary. This is our goal -- and my challenge to you.

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. Five percent 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. Five percent 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 rotary.org 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, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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.

 


 

President Kanthan Pillay receives the charter of the E Club from Rhett Gardener, Liana v d Walt & Annemarie Mostert.