Table Speech

The Current State and Challenges of Rotary Foundation

November 13, 2013

Mr. Kohji Asakawa
Chairman, Rotary Foundation Committee,RID2580 Past Governor

 The Rotary Foundation implements its scholarship programs and humanitarian projects, based on generous donations made by member Rotarians around the world, who also contribute their precious time and expertise to voluntary activities. Since I joined the Tokyo Ouji RC in 1972, I have served as the President and District Governor. I am talking to you today as the Chairman of Rotary Foundation Committee District 2580 with the hope to further deepen your understanding of the Foundation.

 Rotary Foundation has started a new procedure this year in transforming donations into projects. Donations sent from each RC to the Foundation will be reimbursed to the District as District Designated Fund (DDF) after three years, allowing each District to manage and disburse these funds to support community service activities of its RCs. Global Grants allow Districts to implement joint projects with a co-sponsoring club in different countries. As a pilot district, District 2580 has already embarked on this new procedure for the past three years ahead of other districts.

 “Doing good all over the world” is the slogan of Rotary, a very simple one that reflects our stance to start with the basics. The mission of the Rotary Foundation is defined to “enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.” Our six Areas of Focus are: 1) peace and conflict prevention/resolution, 2) disease prevention and treatment, 3) water and sanitation, 4) maternal and child health, 5) basic education and literacy, and 6) economic and community development. Living in Japan, we tend to overlook the importance of water and sanitation, yet it is a critical issue in developing countries where many young children die from waterborne diseases. Some members in our District engage in international projects that assist in drilling clean water wells.

 Activities of the Rotary Foundation Committee have been reviewed and revised and we will implement the following new programs from this Rotary Year. First, the District can now disburse the “District Grants” to support community service activities of its RCs. “Global Grants” will fund international projects that relate to the six Areas of Focus, sponsored and implemented by more than two RCs or Districts in different countries. We have been providing scholarships to students over many years, with a focus on Master degrees and PhD. fellowships. “Packaged Grants” support predesigned projects developed by our strategic partners. We review projects implemented by companies and sponsor appropriate projects.

 “Rotary Peace Centers Program” provides scholarships to fellows in fields related to peace, including international relations, peace studies or conflict resolutions that are willing to further engage in such activities after they have graduated. As we all know, the “PolioPlus Program” was launched to eradicate poliomyelitis, a viral infectious disease that develops most frequently among children.

 I can never forget the shocking event related to polio. When I first served as the Chairman of the Foundation, I got acquainted with a highly-motivated Rotarian from Tokyo Koujimachi RC, Mr. Yamada. He was very fluent in English and I still recall him writing many letters to Rotary International at the Governor’s office. As soon as the polio project had been launched, he flew to India with his fellow Rotarian Dr. Mine and they devoted themselves to polio vaccine administration. After returning from India, he didn’t look well so I asked him what ailed him. He told me that he might have caught some endemic disease. I was devastated to know that he had passed away three months later, followed by Dr. Mine in a further three months. I realized when we engage ourselves in field projects there are certain risks that await us.

 “Charity Navigator” is an independent non-profit rating organization in the US that evaluates thousands of charities each year. Its rating is regarded to be the most reliable. The Rotary Foundation has received the highest rate of four stars over six consecutive years, thanks to the high score we got for the accountability and transparency in our financial management. I hope you take time to study our audited financial statements that specify how your generous donations are utilized for the betterment of all.

 Before closing, let me inform you that there are four subcommittees under the Rotary Foundation Committee in our District that implement various activities that I have just mentioned: the “Grants Subcommittee” manages, promotes and encourages implementation of the grants; the “Stewardship Subcommittee” ensures the careful management of grants funds; the “Fundraising Subcommittee” manages and monitors fundraising and recognition efforts; and the “PolioPlus Committee” that I mentioned earlier.

 Members of the Rotary Foundation Committee are determined to serve as a bridge between each RC and the Rotary Foundation to facilitate the implementation of various activities. As the Committee Chairman, I will strive to deepen your understanding on the Foundation. Let me ask for your generous support and cooperation.