By PDG Jones Wong
Hello, fellow Rotarians, how are you? It‘s been a good while since we’ve been able to meet and we look forward to when we can next catch up, face-to-face. For now, however, it‘s clear that in-person gatherings continue to pose numerous challenges with regards to our safety, logistics, trust-to-travel factors and more, so, we are writing to communicate the latest information regarding The Rotary Foundation events in 2021.
All these years as Chair of DRFC, I have been asking Rotarians to learn about and to support The Rotary Foundation with different kinds of contributions, especially the membership of Paul Harris Fellow (PHF). Now let me share with you a history about PHF and Paul Harris Society (PHS).
A BIRTHDAY GIFT OF GIVING, Paul Harris’ legacy lives on through donor programs that carry his name. The 19th of April marks the 153rd anniversary of the birth of Paul Harris, and there are a number of ways to commemorate Rotary‘s founder this month of April.
Most Rotary members know this story well. As a lawyer practicing in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century, Paul Harris had the idea of bringing together a group of local businessmen for friendship and to expand their professional networks. Harris persuaded several business associates to meet up to discuss his idea, and on 23 February 1905, Paul Harris, Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, and Hiram Shorey gathered at Loehr’s downtown office for what eventually became known as the first Rotary club meeting.
On 27 January 1947, Harris died in Chicago at age 78 after a long illness. He had made it known that he preferred people to contribute to The Rotary Foundation instead of sending flowers. By coincidence, days before he died, Rotary leaders had committed to a major fundraising effort for the Foundation. Upon Harris‘ death, Rotary created the Paul Harris Memorial Fund as a way to solicit those donations. Rotarians were encouraged to commemorate the founder of Rotary by contrbuting to the fund, which would be used for purposes dear to Harris’ heart. In the 18 months following his deadth, the Foundation received US$1.3 millions, which helped support its first program – scholarships for graduate study abroad. Harris‘ desire to encourage giving to the Foundation lives on through two donor recognition programs that carry his name.
In 1957, the Paul Harris Fellow program was established to recognize individuals who give $1,000.00 to the Foundation or have a contribution in that amount made in their name. The first Paul Harris Fellows, for donations made in 1946, were Past Rotary International Director Allison G. Brush, who served during the 1937-38 Rotary Year, and long-time RI Treasurer Rufus F. Chapin.
In the early years of the program, Paul Harris Fellows received a certicate of recognitation. In 1969, the Foundation unveiled the first Paul Harris Fellow medallion. Today, Paul Harris Fellowsreceive a certicate and a lapel pin (special pins honor Paul Harris Fellows who give at levels between $2,000 and $9,999). They are also eligible to buy a Paul Harris Fellow medallion. The legacy of Paul Harris giving grew with the establishment of the Paul Harris Society, which recognizes those who pledge to contribute $1,000 or more each year to the Annual Fund, the PolioPlus Fund, or approved Global Grants. The Paul Harris Society was the brainchild of Wayne Cusick, who was serving as District 5340 Rotary Foundation chair in 1998. Seeing how his district was becoming increasingly involved in matching grant projects, Cusick was concerned that the Foundation would soon need more support to meet the growing demand. He had the idea to create a new level of recognition and called it the Paul Harris Society.
Cusick ran the program as a pilot in his district. During the first year, 55 Rotarians participated, and in subsequent years, the program grew. In the early 2000s, Cusick and his wife, Lee Ann, spread the word about this idea to other districts. They staffed booths at Rotary International conventions and sent hundreds of emails responding to inquiries about the District 5340 Paul Harris Society. In 2006, the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation recognized the Paul Harris Society as an official recognition and fundraising program to be administered by the districts, and interest in the idea grew dramatically. In 2013, the Trustees adopted the Paul Harris Society as one of the Foundation‘s official programs. Since becoming an official recognition program, the Paul Harris Society has grown to more than 26,000 members in 145 countries. There are a number of 100 percent Paul Harris Society clubs, as well as 100 percent Paul Harris Fellow clubs. Although only about 2 percent of Rotarians are registered with Rotary as Paul Harris Society members, in 2019-20 they accounted for over 17 percent of total giving. Even when Rotary was in its early days, Paul Harris believed that the organization would endure. He also knew that a lasting impact required a solid financial basis built on member contributions. Rotary members have never failed to live up to his confidence in their generosity.
As of end April of this Rotary Year 2020-21, our District 3450 has achieved 497 new PHFs, 223 PHS members and 18 100% Paul Harris Fellow clubs, among the 3,972 clubs in the Rotary world in which 100% of members are Paul Harris Fellows.
For ending please note our District Summary, Annual Fund is US$575,316.65, Other Fund is US$210,838.50, and Endowment Fund is US$71,000.00, totally US$857,155.15.