NOT AN OFFICAL ENTITY OF ROTARY INTERNATIONAL
The Rotary Foundation launched Rotary Grants, Formerly known as the Future Vision Plan, on July 1, 2013.
We encourage all Rotarians to become educated on the new grant structure by using the available RI training materials augmented by the additional information provided on this website. If, after considering all of the facts, you wish to support our informational effort or provide other feedback, please click as appropriate. More importantly, please make your feelings known to your district leaders.
"In Our Humble Opinion"
|The Rotary Foundation is a quality organization that has supported Rotarian efforts to "Do Good In The World" for nearly 100 years. During that period, Our Foundation has developed administrative procedures that were appropriate for the time, but have become outdated in today's inter-connected world. We support efforts to streamline procedures, eliminate waste, and reduce administrative overhead; however we have serious concerns about the draconian elimination of services that supported popular, worthwhile programs.
Rotary Grants (formerly known as Future Vision) is a paradigm shift in the operation of our Foundation. It is a key component of TRF's announced goal of transitioning into a more visible player on the world stage. A consequence of this, whether intended or not, is that TRF is changing from being "A Foundation that Supports Rotarians" into a "Foundation Supported By Rotarians". It is a departure from the traditional club driven emphasis that Rotarians have known and supported for decades.
This is evident from a statement in TRF’s Future Vision Pilot Overview: “In 2007, the foundation spent 20% of its funding on large grants with high impact and 80% on short term activity. Under the new grant model, 80% will support high impact sustainable projects”. Since clubs and districts have traditionally been free to choose, their preferences are clear. Under Rotary Grants (Future Vision), The Rotary Foundation is attempting to limit that choice and force Rotarian participation in top driven goals. Rotarians are effectively taken out of the loop except in a fund raising capacity. Specific actions include:
1. Phasing out corporate support for Group Study Exchange and Ambassadorial Scholarships, then forcing Districts that wish to continue these programs to go it alone and fund from their available District Designated Funds (DDF).
2. Phasing out Matching Grants and replacing them with Global Grants that require a minimum budget of US$30,000, emphasis on top driven Areas of Focus, and other restrictive conditions. For most districts, this creates a significant project size funding gap.
3. Phasing out corporate support for smaller projects by shifting administration and responsibility to district resources; but failing to increase DDF to adequately fund the effort. This also contributes to the project size funding gap and could lead to the formation of local foundations.
The Rotary Foundation claims that it is "decentralizing decision making and empowering clubs and districts"; yet, as noted above, only 20% of its funding will go to the types of projects preferred by these groups.
In fact, we believe the implementation of Global Grants with their large minimum budget size and emphasis on high visibility is inconsistent with the well established practice of solving large problems by dividing them into small, manageable pieces. This is a time tested approach that clubs have successfully employed for decades, and an approach that was previously supported by the now defunct Matching Grants program.
To be sure, clubs and districts may "choose" to participate in large high impact projects. They may join with other clubs to apply for Global Grants, but this requires added layers of oversight and funds disbursement. Click here to view a comparison.
Global Grants also require the development of arbitrary metrics that are unrelated to the proper management of grant funds. These are primarily designed to create presentation talking points and analysis by RI headquarters (what TRF has labeled "Demonstrated Impact"). To qualify for funding under Future Vision, simple projects must become larger and more costly, take longer to complete, and require more oversight from RI Headquarters than is needed or wanted by the target beneficiaries or those who are actually doing the work.
Taken separately or together, failure to adequately fund District Grants, the elimination of Matching Grants, and the addition of Demonstrated Impact seems grossly inconsistent with decentralization. These facts, coupled with the shifting of administrative support for small projects and effective elimination of funding for mid-size projects make a strong business case for affluent clubs and districts to form local foundations. The announced plan that beginning in 2015 a 5% administrative fee will be assessed on Annual Program Fund contributions and Global Grant flow through money makes the business case even more compelling.
EXTENSIVE USE OF LOCAL FOUNDATIONS
WOULD BE BAD FOR OUR FOUNDATION!
|The development of Rotary Grants (formerly known as Future Vision) went virtually unnoticed by the vast majority of Rotarians. Notwithstanding a general survey taken in 2005-06, the project team accepted nearly all of its feedback from district leaders and grant writers who volunteered to participate in the Future Vision Pilot. Participation was by choice and Pilot District leaders were contractually and ethically obligated to support the program. These Rotarians, although capable, dedicated, and well intentioned, cannot be considered impartial observers. Despite promises to the contrary, there was little if any input taken from the clubs. Because of the pilot's timing, even RI's Council on Legislation had no opportunity to formally consider or provide input on pilot results. We were informed by a CoL Representative that the Future Vision train had "left the station " before the 2013 Council had even convened.
As the worldwide launch approached, TRF did a masterful job of promoting the new program. Efforts included a professionally produced print and electronic media campaign and a two day training seminar in San Diego (California USA). The budget for the seminar (including lodging and transportation for over 500 DRFC's from across the globe) was US$ 1.7 Million. As one would expect from any well crafted marketing campaign, Our Foundation promoted the benefits of Rotary Grants (Future Vision) while minimizing the trade offs. We feel that the trade offs were substantial, and therefore warranted a more complete discussion. The trade offs will soon be making a real impact on grass roots service efforts, yet they are still not being openly discussed. We have therefore chosen to continue this informational campaign. We hope that Rotarians and clubs that share our concerns will recognize that they are not alone and join us in voicing their opinions. Many already have (click here to view). Ultimately, we hope the management of TRF will take notice and implement corrective action before irreparable harm is done to relationships that have taken years to develop. We have offered specific suggestions in our Ten Step Plan.
Public discussion of alternative views is uncommon in the Rotary world. Prior to opening this website, the founders of Rotarians Matter Most spent many months expressing our concerns through private and official channels. While our conversations were cordial and polite, we were told in no uncertain terms that our concerns and suggestions would not be acted upon. Attempts to raise the issue at the Council on Legislation were stymied by procedure and inaction at the district level. We have therefore resorted to the publication of this website and initiation of public discussion as a LAST RESORT!
We recognize that the natural reaction for most Rotarians is to regard this discussion as inappropriate. The Rotary Foundation has reinforced this by circulating a letter to District Governors and DRFC's entitled Misrepresentations by "Rotarians Matter Most". TRF followed with a series of talking points to be used by District Leaders when questioned about the program. These conveniently ignored our major concerns; corporate phase out of GSE, non-value added aspects of measurement and evaluation, and implications of the project size funding gap. They also claimed broad participation by Rotarians which is only true if a general survey conducted five years BEFORE the pilot is considered. Our claim of limited participation can be easily verified. Please ask your club leaders if they were given an opportunity to provide meaningful feedback before, during, or after the pilot.
Whether our effort is misguided remains to be seen, but we take issue with assertions that we are poorly informed or intentionally misrepresenting facts. The information presented on this website is based on documents published by the Rotary Foundation. We have repeatedly offered to correct any factual errors, and we will continue to update as additional or more current information becomes available. The opinions we express have been formed through collective personal experience and careful consideration of published information. If we are in fact poorly informed, this would indicate that TRF has been less than forthcoming with pertinent information.
The bottom line is that when the policy makers and staff of The Rotary Foundation are setting its direction and making funding decisions, we believe the field experience, preferences, and input of Rotarians matters most.
A more detailed overview of our concerns and objections follows on the next tab. We flesh out our concerns with additional discussions and a case study. We conclude with our Ten Step Plan To Fix Future Vision and a Call To Action. We encourage feedback and will post selected comments on our Voices page. Thanks again for visiting our website!
Click here to view our Concerns and Objections.
Click here to view our Ten Step Plan To Fix Future Vision.