Rotary Charities History

76-wellWhen oil was struck on property owned by Rotary Camps & Services in 1976, Rotarians focused again on the community and the future. After careful thought and deliberation, they established a corporate structure that would ensure the assets would be protected, the community would be served and our club would remain an active service organization. That insightful decision led to the establishment of Rotary Charities, a 501(c) (3) non-profit public foundation. Royalty payments came into the Rotary Charities portfolio. The land where the wells were located and the associated liability remained the property of Rotary Camps & Services. Rotary Charities was charged with the fiduciary and philanthropic duties and RC&S was responsible for real estate and stewardship of the land.

1976-Well CrewAt the same time, thoughtful Rotarians worried that this new source of cash might lead to a decline in the Rotary Club’s commitment to community service. They feared that our service club would become merely a community checkbook. The articles and bylaws of Rotary Charities were established to ensure linkages between the Club and Charities, but not a direct connection between the assets of Rotary Charities and the Club. The Club membership elects the Rotary Charities Board members from within its own membership ranks, thus ensuring accountability to the Club, but also allowing primary service to the community.

With foresight and a commitment to community, the foundation has grown to over $48 million, which has allowed Rotary Charities to invest over $58 million in over 1,300 grants to the five-county Grand Traverse region since 1977.