Millions for HOPE – A teamwork best practice

 by Pam Russell – RRFC Zone 26 2013-2016, District 5340

When challenged to raise money for The Rotary Foundation, RRFC Pamela Russell, E/MGA Brenda Cressey, Past Trustee Steve Brown, and Major Gifts Officer Mike Dunlap worked with Rotary District 5340 as they set a goal of raising $15 million by October 2015 for their “Millions for HOPE” (Health, Overcoming Poverty, and Education) event.  Within the first six months, they had already achieved $10 million. This great achievement stemmed from leaders working together to provide training and ongoing support on donor identification and cultivation in the district.

Past Trustee Steve Brown talking with Ron Kohl and Antonio Grillo-Lopez, both significant donors in the campaign

Past Trustee Steve Brown talking with Ron Kohl and Antonio Grillo-Lopez, both significant donors in the campaign

The leaders engaged with the district governor, district governor-elect and their entire district committee to support their campaign, “Millions for HOPE”. With strong participation from the top 20 clubs in the district, the excitement was building. A key success for cultivating donors was to encourage them to specify where they wanted their donation to go. The donors chose to give to The Rotary Foundation in support of current work, Rotary’s future, a polio-free world or a specific project important to the donor.   This also allowed the district to reach their goal of $15 million in only 10 months.

On 17 October 2015, the “Millions for HOPE” Gala kicked off with a jazz performance and continued with dinner, a DJ, and dancing.  With more than 500 Rotarians in attendance– including local Rotaractors and President K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran, everyone was in high spirits. After the final numbers were announced, an anonymous donor spoke with Past Trustee Steve Brown.  The word was passed to President Ravi and he announced that there would be a match bringing the total donation to The Rotary Foundation to more than $31,000,000!

“Providing millions of dollars to The Rotary Foundation means providing millions of beneficiaries with opportunity” states RRFC Pamela Russell. “Raising $15.5 million as a team was already a huge accomplishment. Then to have a donor match it! It is hard to imagine what the impact is going to be. We are so pleased for District 5340 to have such a profound legacy” she continued.

A balloon drop to celebrate the success of the campaign.

A balloon drop to celebrate the success of the campaign.

It is important to realize that working as a team, the organizers were able to support the district’s successful campaign and event, leading to a meaningful impact for the beneficiaries of Rotary service projects.  The skills you have as regional leaders can help districts with their Million Dollar campaigns and other events.

If you are interested in the training resources, contact E/MGA Brenda Cressey and RRFC Pam Russell. Check out the Facebook album of celebration photos.


Securing support for The Rotary Foundation from corporations and local companies

By Greg Stowers, district Annual Fund subcommittee chair, Zone 26

This Rotary Foundation month, explore some fresh, new ideas about ways to raise money that doesn’t involve nagging all your members. Today I want to talk to you about considering “Other People’s Money” – specifically gifts from corporations and local companies.

The following are some ideas for attracting corporate donations or donations from local companies:

  • Leverage your contributions by engaging your company’s workplace giving program.  When you make a gift or volunteer, many companies will match it with their own donation to Rotary.  Visit to see if your company has previously given to Rotary.  If they haven’t, be the first to ask your HR department about your company’s workplace giving program and double the good you do!
  • Show a possible corporate donor how Rotary projects achieve sustainable results. For example, our projects provide micro loans to women or provide computer-aided-learning to young adults with a guarantee that the majority will be employed at the end of their schooling.
  • Consider offering a publicity opportunity to a local company or corporate donor. Offer ways for them to turn their donation and the results achieved into a business story.
  • Appeal to a donor’s personal interests by connecting the product the company makes to the results achieved. For example, if a firm creates software, it could contribute to a district or global grant which sponsors a scholarship for students majoring in Computer Science. If a firm manufactures water filtration systems, it could contribute parts to a water project in Kenya or Honduras which can provide training and jobs to the local population.
  • Almost any economic and community development effort will trigger related activities, improving the local economy beyond our initial efforts. Secure joint promotion from one of your donor’s trade journals and make sure everyone in their industry knows about these activities. This type of publicity is free and can have wide-ranging impact.

Too often, when we ask corporations or local companies for a contribution, we talk about the good things that the donor’s money will do for those in need around the world, but fail to connect how a corporation or local business can benefit from this relationship.

Learn more about Rotary’s Workplace Giving Programs.

Keep in mind that if a corporation contributes to the Annual Fund, your club receives recognition credits AND it increases District Designated Funds, so that you can do larger, more impactful programs, in line with your donor’s mission.

An Embarrassingly Small Gift?

Written by PDG Helene A. Kalfuss, TRF EREY Coordinator, Zone 26

Is there any such thing as an embarrassingly small contribution to The Rotary Foundation? Just how much does it take to positively change a life? Rotarians may think that the Foundation wants them to contribute a minimum of US$100 per year when all they can afford is $25 or $10. They fear being scorned or embarrassed by making this small gift. Not so!

It is important that every member realize that whatever gift they can afford, no matter the amount, is just as important as what a major donor gives! We can do this by providing our members with an idea of what “things” cost in the TRF world. Most have no idea of how little it takes to change a life.


  • Just two cents a day can buy the Vitamin A needed to prevent blindness in a Vitamin A deficient child or adult.
  • $10 can buy two insecticide impregnated mosquito nets preventing the spread of malaria
  • $25 can fund an intraocular lens implant!

Sharing the impact of donors contributions helps develop a “culture of giving” which will continue year after year and encourage donors to increase their contributions when they are able. Our global contribution rate represents only 27 percent of our Rotarians. Isn’t it time we encouraged our less affluent members to support the Foundation at a level with which they are comfortable? Show them how their small contribution will make a huge difference!

As supporters of The Rotary Foundation, we know that contributions to the Annual Fund allow us to do good in our very own communities or in the world. Helping your clubs encourage every Rotarian to contribute every year means keeping in communication with them, providing ideas that might help and making frequent visits and presentations on EREY TRF program. You can help achieve 100 percent EREY participation by making sure that your members know that no contribution is too small or too big! When Rotarians understand the impact of their contributions, no matter the size, they will give.

EREY: 100 percent is a goal you can achieve!