From Endowment to The Rotary Foundation
"We have called the attention of the organization this year to the possibility of a future endowment fund for Rotary. Carrying on, as we are, a miscellaneous community service, it seems eminently proper that we should accept endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world, in charitable, educational or other avenues of community progress; or such funds could be well used for extension work. I know of no more commendable use for the vast millions possessed by men in this country than that certain sums might be endowed to Rotary for the purpose of establishing Rotary clubs in all nations of the world".
By virtue of a near unanimous ballot of the delegates, Klumph’s idea of an endowment fund for Rotary became a technical reality.
Technical, because it wasn’t until after the Rotary Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, the following year that the first funds were received for the Fund. The amount? $26.50, which represented the net proceeds of the 1918 convention. The Kansas City club had originally wanted to put the amount toward a keepsake or memento for Klumph, but had decided to donate it all to the new Endowment Fund. It was just a few days later that a contribution was received from a past president of the Rotary Club of San Francisco, club number 2. He wrote, “I believe that when a fellow like Arch Klumph puts forth an idea, it is bound to be good.”
The idea of an endowment was not a new one. The day that Arch C. Klumph retired from the presidency of his own Rotary club in Cleveland, Ohio, four years previously, Klumph proposed that “an emergency fund should be built up which will enable the club in future years to do many things. Even in the midst of World War I, and the concerns over world events, Klumph’s ability to change his dream of the future into the reality of 1917, through the help of others was not an accident.
With its approval in Atlanta that June morning, the Endowment Fund became a committee of Rotary, and, as such, was operated, or observed, by the President and the board of Directors, with the assistance of Treasurer Rufus F. Chapin.
The fund grew slowly, but steadily over the next 11 years. In Ostend, Belgium, in 1927, RI President Harry H. Rogers of San Antonio, Texas, employing the method first used by Klumph in 1917, tried to pass a resolution creating The Rotary Foundation. Due to delegates believing that the clubs and Rotary International were separate entities, the resolution was defeated.
The following year, with RI President Arthur H. Sapp, Huntington, Indiana, at the podium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 19, 1928, convention delegates voted to convert the Endowment Fund into The Rotary Foundation. It was then worth $US5,739.07, as reported by Treasurer Rufus Chapin.
The convention, as part of the enabling resolution, amended the Constitution and Bylaws of Rotary International to give the Foundation “legal recognition,” and five Trustees were appointed by Sapp. They were charged with the responsibility to “hold, invest, manage and administer” all of its property and, “with the approval of the Board of Directors of R.I., extend the corpus of the income therefrom, as a single trust, for the furtherance of the purposes of R.I.”
The Trustees appointed by RIP Arthur Sapp were Rufus Chapin of Chicago, Illinois; Charles Rhodes of Auckland, New Zealand; Harry H. Rogers of San Antonio, Texas; L. G. Sloan of London, England, and the “Father of the Foundation,” Arch C. Klumph. Chapin served as the Treasurer of Rotary from 1912 to 1945, Harry H. Rogers was President of RI in 1926-27, and Arch C. Klumph, who started the whole thing in 1917 during his term as RI President, would serve as Chair of the Trustees for the next five years. Klumph would expand on the purpose and reason for The Rotary Foundation in an article in The Rotarian the following April 1929.
Sources include The Rotarian, the Archives of Rotary International, RI’s publications on The Rotary Foundation, and Wolfgang Ziegler’s research in the Proceedings of Rotary Conventions.