We’re coming up on “giving budget season” where the Club board decides which charities to fund.  Our Giving Budget last year was approximately $55,000 and this is the amount the board wants to spend this year.  The Foundation board would prefer we spend less so as not to draw down our assets in our investment account too quickly.  This is one of the topics that will be addressed at our Club Assembly this week.  But this is not really what I want to discuss in this column.  This is the “how” – what I want to discuss is the “why”.
If you look at it cynically from a very big picture, spending $55,000 is a drop in the bucket.  There’s so much need out there – locally, regionally, nationally, internationally.  You could give us a $1,000,000 Giving Budget and we’d still want more to spend. 
But I submit the beauty of Rotary is that it is comprised of 35,000 clubs all trying to do some good in this world.  And the motion of “doing good” affects others well beyond our immediate Rotary club.  For example, I have no doubts that the Flags For Heroes inspired people to do more – to perhaps aspire to be the type of people recognized as “heroes” on the medallions.  Through the Grab & Go project, we were able to create a bond between residents and businesses that went beyond just being paying customers.  Bikes For the World gets people thinking about those in developing countries still struggling for things that we have long taken for granted in this country.  The positive example we set for our children by taking the time and effort to belong to a global organization that puts “service above self” will stay with them as they become adults.
But through our efforts, our continuing motion, our commitment to make the world a better place…we are having an impact.  The pandemic has clearly affected our ability to raise money, but this is only temporary.  Buoyed by the success of Flags For Heroes, I believe that a few more smaller fundraisers will get us close to our Giving Budget target for 2021.  And then once things return back to “normal” and we can hold both Run With Rotary and FunFest, I have no doubts that we will be able to ramp up the Giving Budget significantly in future years.
There are a lot of selfish and uncaring people on this planet that we probably won’t have much influence over.  But there are many people that have great intentions but assume (or hope) that someone else will take care of the world’s problems.   Many people have great intentions but assume that they can’t make a difference so why bother.  It is these people we can sweep in with our energy but only if we stay in motion.  Action begets action.
With regards to this year’s Giving Budget, we will be coming up with a preliminary list at our next board meeting on October 14th and then will finalize the list at the November board meeting on 11/9.   You can view last year’s Giving Budget from the website in the Financials folder under Private Documents (you have to be logged in to do so).  If you have any charitable organizations that you think we should be giving to, I invite you to make your case at the October board meeting (or send me an email if you can’t make it).  While we’re not the Gates Foundation dishing out millions, we are vital to our Giving Budget charities.  Most are not huge organizations and survive on donations from sources like us.  Through our financial contributions to these organizations, we are giving them the energy to “do good”. 

The tough part of the Giving Budget is not deciding on who to give money to, it’s deciding who doesn’t get any.  Unfortunately, we don’t have an unlimited supply of money so tough decisions need to be made.  So please speak up either at the next board meeting or in advance by email.
Why?  Because we are People of Action.
Rotarically Yours,
Zoltan Nagy
Rotary Club of Montgomery/Rocky Hill (NJ)