Chairman's Message - June 2011
From time to time there are calls that the ICUFR "should have a project", but I think they misunderstand the nature of a Rotary Fellowship and what it can do. The House of Friendship (HoF) at the RI Convention provided a nice visual guide to how projects are supported within Rotary.
As you entered the HoF you passed major organisations such as ShelterBox, Rotaplast International and many others before coming to the largest group of booths, eighty three of them devoted to Rotary Projects. These were all Club and District projects which ranged from tackling malaria (Port Moresby Club) to integrated solar cooking and water pasteurisation (Fresno Club), a medical supplies network (District 6110) to the Thousand Smiles Foundation (Districts 5340 and 4100). Click on the first thumbnail to browse the project booths
Moving on you would have found 13 booths of Rotary Action Groups such as the Blindness Prevention RAG, Water and Sanitation RAG and the Global Network for Blood Donation RAG. Click on the second thumbnail to browse the Rotary Action Group booths
. At the far end of the HoF you would have come to the Fellowships neighbourhood - twenty nine booths devoted to "pursuing common vocational or recreational interests in order to further friendship" (quoting from chapter 9 of the RI Manual of Procedure).
There you would have found ICUFR (and ROTI and ROSNF) together with booths furthering friendship and international acquaintance through wine appreciation, sailing boats, playing chess, riding motorbikes and so on. None of the Fellowships had Rotary Project booths because that is not their role in the Rotary world. Fellowships are fundamentally different from Rotary Action Groups who "conduct international service projects that advance the Object of Rotary" (chapter 9, RI Manual of Procedure).
There are restrictions on Fellowships engaging in fund raising which are set out in the Rotary Code of Policies (see page 326 in the May 2011 version). An important one for the ICUFR is: “No Rotary Fellowship shall solicit funds on Web sites, with the exception of membership dues.”
The Fellowship cannot get involved in raising funds or holding them for the benefit of a project. This is the role of clubs or districts, not because they can do it better than a global fellowship but because they have properly audited accounts. Our accounting procedures are rudimentary, which is not a concern when the only receipts are from the occasional sale of membership pins. Accounting for global donations would raise serious issues and it is worth noting that we do not have the protection of incorporation.
Despite all that, we can do a lot to promote Rotary Service and international projects as set out in our objectives, such as publicising Rotary projects and the work of major organisations through our newsletter, website and forum. That's worthwhile but ICUFR members directly involved with projects will be looking for ways to leverage the global reach of the Fellowship to find the help and support they need.
This is how they can do it.
Any Rotarian or Rotaractor is welcome to post messages on our mailing list, forum and facebook group telling the world about projects they are involved in and current problems they may be encountering. A direct request for money raises issues because AFAIK you can't approach members of other clubs / districts for fund raising without the approval of your DG / RI board. And in any case endless scams have also made us all so wary of online begging letters that very few people will respond without further investigation. The better approach is to end your posting with something like "if you are interested in learning more about this work please contact .. ".
This networking approach is how Fellowships are supposed to work, and why we continue to maintain the mailing list and forum. It is not a short cut to fund raising but if you have a good project, and tell the world about it, you may find that someone reading your note belongs to a club that is looking for a project such as yours to support.
It worked well in the past and can work in the future, let's give it a try.