Trustee chair's message

Gary C.K. Huang

Trustee Chair 2019-20

March 2020

I like to quote Confucius at many Rotary events, because his ideas are so much like ours. Confucius would have been a great Rotarian. Take this Confucius quote, for example: "The failure to cultivate virtue, the failure to examine and analyze what I have learned, the inability to move toward righteousness after being shown the way, the inability to correct my faults — these are the causes of my grief."

If you turn the saying around to positive language, it sounds exactly like the first goal of the new Rotary Action Plan. When we talk about Rotary increasing our impact, we mean investing in relationships, making decisions grounded in evidence, mobilizing our resources to create solutions that last, and always learning from our experiences.

The Rotary Foundation already does this so well and will continue to be the best possible investment in a better world as the Action Plan is put into effect. Our global grants respond to real community needs. That's because we approve them only after a rigorous community assessment. Then the projects are tailored to the information uncovered during the assessment.

Now your Foundation is making a difference on a broader scale than ever through our programs of scale grants. These are competitive grants, designed to respond to a need that a community has identified. Programs of scale will benefit a large number of people in a significant geographic area. They will be sustainable, evidence-based interventions with measurable outcomes and impact. Each grant will support, for three to five years, activities that align with one or more of Rotary's areas of focus.

Programs of scale build on our experience in the eradication of polio, and we must never forget that we still have important work to do to eliminate this disease. When I visited Pakistan in November, I was overjoyed to see so many young Rotary leaders working hard for End Polio Now.

Wonderful things are happening with our global grants, and the Rotary Action Plan will help us do more than ever. Let us continue to cultivate virtue, examine and analyze what we learn, move toward righteousness based on our new knowledge, and keep improving everything we do.

February 2020

Since ancient times, people have built communities around water. Having the ability to draw clean, fresh water from a well means that a village has staying power and the ability to endure hard times.

Wells are vital to people worldwide, but as a metaphor, they are just as powerful. What is The Rotary Foundation's "well"? From what source can we draw to replenish ourselves to keep up with all of the amazing global grants saving lives around the world?

The Rotary Foundation well is our Endowment, of course. We are building a very deep, strong well that will ensure funding for major projects for generations to come. A strong endowment will ensure the long-term financial stability of our Foundation and provide essential resources to help deliver even more outstanding humanitarian service into the future.

We are aiming high with the Building TRF Endowment: 2025 by 2025 initiative to build an endowment of $2.025 billion by 2025. By then we expect the Foundation's Endowment to have a minimum of $1 billion in net assets, with the balance in expectancies and bequest-type commitments.

Imagine the good we will be able to do with a $2 billion Endowment! The investment earnings will provide about $100 million annually for Rotarians to do all sorts of life-changing projects around the globe, year after year.

Together, we can make this happen. As much as the world changes around us, the well of The Rotary Foundation will stand the test of time and keep making a positive impact on the world.

Confucius took great pleasure from water. He said: "Great water can continuously move forward without stopping. It is so kind as to irrigate the lands everywhere it goes, yet it does not regard itself as having performed outstanding feats. It's just like virtue."

Speaking of accomplishments, the Rotary Club of Shanghai just celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. And the club just reached another great milestone: its first Arch Klumph Society member, Frank Yih. Gōng xǐ to our friends in Shanghai!

January 2020

Something amazing happened in Vienna in October. A runner from Kenya named Eliud Kipchoge was the first person in history to run a marathon distance — 26.2 miles — in less than two hours.

For many years, experts thought this would be impossible. They said the human body was not capable of achieving this feat. But Kipchoge succeeded because he had an incredible team working with him. He had pacers who ran with him every step of the way, and people who made sure that he had the proper fuel and hydration. Every few miles, fresh runners were sent in to keep up the pace and help him reach his goal.

Like Eliud Kipchoge, Rotary has a great support team as we approach the final mile in our marathon journey to rid the world of polio. So many amazing Rotarians have helped pace this effort along the way, donating their time and energies to bring us close to our goal.

The World Health Organization has certified type 3 of the wild poliovirus as eradicated. This is big news! We have also gone three years without any wild poliovirus on the continent of Africa. It may soon be certified polio-free.

The final mile of our journey is a difficult one. Pakistan and Afghanistan are great challenges for us — but we have met so many great challenges before. Every time a goal has seemed out of reach, Rotarians have stood together and answered the call.

This is no time to lose our focus or to think the race is already over. Can you imagine what would have happened to Eliud Kipchoge if all of the pacers had gone home for the final 2 miles? He might never have reached his goal.

It takes a special character to pursue a difficult task all the way to the end. These are the times that we need each other most. In the Tao Te Ching, Laozi wrote that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step. But it also ends with one step. And those final steps take just as much courage as the first.

Let's make history, Rotary — the finish line is within reach!

December 2019

The year is almost over, and I know that you are thinking about giving gifts and making last-minute contributions. You are wondering how best to show your appreciation and love.

The answer is very simple — make your gifts to The Rotary Foundation. Don't take my word for it: In an independent analysis, your Rotary Foundation was ranked No. 1 among the world's best-known charities. For the 12th consecutive year, The Rotary Foundation has received the highest rating — four stars — from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities. The Foundation earned the maximum of 100 points for demonstrating both strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency in Charity Navigator's August ratings.

In a letter to the Foundation, Charity Navigator notes that "only 1 percent of the charities we evaluate have received at least 12 consecutive four-star evaluations, indicating that The Rotary Foundation outperforms other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets the Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness."

This recognition comes on top of awards won in the past several years. Rotary's commitment to eradicating polio worldwide won Best Nonprofit Act in the Hero Awards of the One Billion Acts of Peace campaign, an international global citizens movement to tackle the world's most important issues. And the Association of Fundraising Professionals — the world's largest network of professional fundraisers — named The Rotary Foundation the World's Outstanding Foundation, honoring our long-term achievements.

It's easy to say that we belong to one of the greatest philanthropic organizations in the world. But the truth is, your Rotary Foundation is the best. So close out the year by giving the greatest gift of all to the world. Gimme five and show your support for The Rotary Foundation.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

November 2019

Ni hao, Rotarians!

We just had our first-ever fundraiser in Taiwan for The Rotary Foundation — and it was a great success.

The Taiwan AKS Members Association organized the event in August in Taipei. We were treated to an inspirational speech by Ravishankar Dakoju of the Rotary Club of Bangalore Orchards, India, in District 3190. He shared why he contributes his time and money — and why he’s an organ donor. His generosity is legendary, and he wants to help the world in any way he can. His speech touched everyone who attended the event. 

We are pleased and honored to announce that the final total for the fundraiser was $5.5 million. We have 11 new Arch Klumph Society members contributing at the Chair’s Circle level ($500,000 to $999,999) and 14 at the Trustees Circle level ($250,000 to $499,999). Thank you to our generous donors in Taiwan!

At great events like this one, I am reminded how Rotary gives us something good that we can all do together. Our service puts us in touch with so many interesting people from all over the world. When we meet, we hear about projects of all kinds, and it is always inspirational. And we never stop learning from one another.

This provides such a wonderful lesson to our children. We share with them the importance of fellowship and forming new bonds with other people. We also show them what is really important in life: making connections, improving life for those in need, and doing all we can for others. Rotary is the best education a family can have.

I am excited that Rotary President Mark Daniel Maloney has made expanding the family of Rotary a priority. We must bring our family members to Rotary events and do all we can to encourage them to be part of this wonderful organization. And through The Rotary Foundation, we can make these family connections part of our legacy. You are never too young or too old for Rotary.

So give your high-five to Rotary and find ways to bring your family into Rotary. It’s the most wonderful gift you can share with the people you love.

October 2019

Friends, World Polio Day is this month and we are facing a major challenge. The news out of Afghanistan and Pakistan tells us that we have more work to do. It tells us that polio will not die out quickly or easily.

Most of all, it tells us that we are needed now more than ever. Success will require us to remain steady and show that there is no time limit to our commitment. We are in this to the end, and we will conquer this terrible disease. We will give life back to children and families, and restore hope to communities.

We are fortunate to have great friends in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which continues to match every donation 2-to-1. We have already eradicated wild poliovirus type 2, and type 3 could soon be wiped out. India is polio-free. All of Africa may soon be polio-free.

The most important factor in ending polio forever is you. The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have faced so much hardship in recent years. Polio is just one more challenge. To them, it could all feel overwhelming. But not to Rotarians. We do not feel overwhelmed. We feel challenged, and, as people of action, we rise to challenges.

In the words of Confucius: "If one is virtuous, one will not be left to stand alone. It is certain that associates of like mind will come and join with one." In Rotary, we understand these words very well. When we say "Service Above Self," we take a stand for this virtue. We know that our like-minded brothers and sisters around the world will join us. We have been drawn together by our need to do good in the world.

We can rid the world of a disease forever. And you will be the ones to do it, through your continued commitment and generosity.

Be a part of history! Help us overcome the final hardship, the final challenge. Make your donation at

September 2019

I hope you are making plans for the upcoming Rotary International Convention. Rotarians who live near the Pacific Ocean are especially excited! Next year’s event is in beautiful Hawaii, and I know everyone is eager to make the journey to that island paradise.

So “give me five” by signing up right now for the Honolulu convention if you haven’t already — and make a plan for how you are going to help The Rotary Foundation reach new heights in 2019. We are transforming lives everywhere, and it’s all because of you.

We remind you often about the importance of giving to the Annual Fund. These donations are making the world a better place, not just by helping to end polio now and forever. Your donations make every type of Rotary grant around the world possible.

But many of you don’t know something just as important: Contributing to the Rotary Endowment ensures our future. I hope you will consider creating your own legacy by making a gift to the endowment. The idea behind it is simple and very powerful. Rotary’s Endowment supports Foundation programs today and into the future.

We have a goal of $2.025 billion by 2025. We will reach that goal with your support. And once we do, amazing things will be possible. Just by drawing from the annual investment earnings, the Foundation will have about $100 million every year — year after year — for all kinds of life-changing and lifesaving projects. This will be an amazing accomplishment and will truly secure our Foundation long into the future.

This month, I want to give out two very special high-fives. The first goes to the Rotary Club of Taipei Roundtable. Members collected and donated $10,000 to End Polio Now during the installation ceremony for Club President Jeff Lin. Then, during a changeover ceremony a few days later, District 3750 in Korea inducted six new Arch Klumph Society members, bringing their total to eight. Congratulations for the outstanding job by new District Governor Yun Young-Jung!

The generosity of Rotarians continues to give my life great joy and purpose, and I hope it does for you as well.

August 2019

We have some very good problems that I want to discuss with you. The number of Rotary global grant requests is exploding. Rotarians are seeing the amazing impact of our grants, and they want to harness the power of global grants to take on ambitious projects.

One crucial aspect of our global grants is the emphasis on sustainability when planning a project. When we come together to tackle a problem, we do not just drop off a check and leave. We change lives. We bring sustainable solutions. The growth in the number of applications for global grants is a good problem to have; it shows Rotarians' dedication to service. But to fund more global grants, we need to keep The Rotary Foundation growing.

Another good problem we have is how best to support Rotarians' desire to provide relief in the face of disasters. Through our disaster response program, clubs can get grants from a new fund when a disaster strikes — but only if you fund it. We can help our fellow Rotarians rebuild quickly, but we need you to step up.

And we are so close to ending polio forever. All of us have done great things in our lives. But just imagine that you make the donation that funds those final drops that rid the world of polio forever. You will never do anything so great and so important in your life.

There is an old bit of wisdom that says, "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." So open your heart and give to your Foundation. It may be the most important thing that you ever do.

Donate today, then drop by my Facebook page and tell everyone just how good giving made you feel. Let's connect and change the world together.

July 2019

I am so excited to have this opportunity to communicate with you every month in my new role as chair of The Rotary Foundation Trustees. When I look at the amazing work that the Foundation has ahead of it this year, I'm astonished. We are making such an enormous, lasting impact on the world. In the near future, polio will be wiped off the face of the earth — all because of you.

I see my role as chair much like the position I played on my high school basketball team. I was the point guard. It was my job to bring the ball up court and make sure my teammates received the ball when they were open. Nothing made me happier than to see them make shots.

We didn't have the high-five back when I played, but I would have loved to give out high-fives for every basket. Now I'm eager to give them to you. Think about it: There is so much you can do to give a high-five to the Foundation. I started out by getting all five members of the Huang family in Rotary — my wife, three children, and myself — and keeping us donating year after year to the Foundation.

Now, let's see how many high-fives all of us can give in the next year. Whether you write five more checks, hold five more fundraisers, find five new donors, or simply give five more dollars, every high-five counts.

This year, I am going to fill my Social media accounts with all the Rotary Foundation high-fives I give around the world and tell the stories of the generous people who are bringing us closer to our goals. Join me on Facebook (@garyckhuang) and share your stories. And feel free to give your own high-fives.

Let's reach our goals and keep going. Clubs have great projects — they are counting on us. And the children of the world are counting on us. Right now — you're open! Take the shot! Let's make this the Foundation's greatest year yet.