At the 2018 Foundation Seminar, attendees were given a glimpse of a new campaign that aims to nearly double the number of local Rotarians that join the Paul Harris Society.
Named after Rotary’s founder, the Paul Harris Society recognizes Rotary members and friends of The Rotary Foundation who elect to give individual contributions of $1,000 or more each year to the Annual Fund, PolioPlus Fund, or approved Foundation global grants. 
Membership in the Paul Harris Society is easy to maintain, so easy that many Rotarians are already eligible through their support of the Rotary Foundation. Donors who join the Society can contribute $1,000 each year to the Rotary Foundation, either automatically via Rotary Direct or through one-time donations.

Yet, many don't realize that this global program actually started right here, in our very own district.


The Spark of an Idea

In 1999, Past District Governor Wayne Cusick created the first Paul Harris Society in District 5340. The Paul Harris Society was founded on the premise that, although it is not appropriate for all members, there were many Rotarians in our District who were both willing and able to provide this level of support, which would literally be used to make our local communities and the world better places in which to live.
The program was launched during District Governor Richard Thorn's year. At the 1999 Foundation Seminar, Cusick presented his idea for creating a special group of individuals who made the annual commitment to The Rotary Foundation. Over 50 Rotary members registered on the spot. The following year, that number doubled.
And it has only grown ever since. In 2006, the Trustees of the Rotary Foundation voted to recognize the Paul Harris Society as a bonafide district-administered recognition and fund-raising program. The program continued to grow, to the point where the Trustees of the Rotary Foundation adopted the program as an official Foundation recognition program in 2013. It continued to be a powerful force for good in the world, helping power district grants and global grants supported with funding by the Rotary Foundation.

Paul Harris Society's Global Impact

In 2012, a Rotary Foundation analysis revealed that 1 out of every 4 dollars contributed to the Rotary Foundation came through the Paul Harris Society. Today, 119 districts around the world have followed District 5340's lead in establishing. a Paul Harris Society, with total members now globally of more than 25,000.  
The Rotary Foundation works to improve communities by putting grassroots expertise to work and forging lifelong partnerships in the process. Donations at the Paul Harris Society level are crucial in order for us to continue making a positive impact — from local projects to our continued efforts to rid the world of polio. 
When you join the Paul Harris Society, you help support projects such as:
  • Providing vocational training for teachers who are establishing an early childhood education center in South Africa
  • Supplying water filters, toilet blocks, and hygiene training to prevent fluorosis in a community in India
  • Funding a scholarship for a medical professional in Italy to research treatments that minimize mortality rates among premature babies
  • Offering peace-building seminars to 200 teachers and 1,300 students in Uganda
  • Distributing treated mosquito nets and offering medical services that help prevent malaria in Mali
  • Eliminating polio from this planet; a PHS-level contribution helps immunize over 1,600 children from polio
Those who give at the Paul Harris Society level help provide the financial foundation for Rotary to fun projects where they are most needed. In fact, 7% of Rotary members give $1,000 or more to the Annual Fund. These donors represent about 45% of giving to the Annual Fund. And Paul Harris Society contributions and pledges have contributed almost $100 million since Rotary officially adopted the Paul Harris Society cross the globe in 2013
Donations at the Paul Harris Society provide that spark, that key momentum for Foundation-supported projects to help get them funded, which is often the last piece that we need to help turn any project from idea into reality.
"We started this Rotary year with 158 local members of the Paul Harris Society, and another 21 Rotarians are already eligible for the Paul Harris Society just through their regular gifting," said Scott Carr, Past District Governor who is helping spearhead a new initiative to encourage participation in the Paul Harris Society. "Our mission is to have 300 Paul Harris Society members by the end of the year. It is a lofty goal, but one that I believe we can achieve together, and vital for us to continue being beneficiaries of The Rotary Foundation grants."
By joining the Paul Harris Society, Rotarians are pledging to contribute at least $1,000 or more to the Annual Fund, PolioPlus, or an approved Foundation grant each year. To join, you do not have to have already made $1000 in contributions, and you do not need to make an immediate contribution when you enroll. 
To officially become a member, you can:
  1. Join online here.
  2. Contact Rotary’s Support Center at or call 1-866-9ROTARY (976-8279).
  3. If you prefer checks, fill out the Paul Harris Society form and mail it to One Rotary Center.

Fulfilling the Pledge

One of the easiest ways to fulfill your pledge Is by joining Rotary Direct. This is Rotary’s recurring giving program, which provides a safe, secure, and easy way to join the Paul Harris Society. It allows the Foundation to process a recurring contribution by charging a credit or debit card at the amount and frequency that are most convenient for you. You choose the designation, you choose how often, you choose the amount, and you can cancel or adjust it any time. Rotary Direct puts you in control, and puts your giving on your schedule. 
From the Rotary Foundation perspective, members participating in Rotary Direct provides certainty, a clearer picture of incoming donations, and budgeting and planning. In the end, it allows them to make smarter decisions and be more efficient. For Rotary members, it provides peace of mind, knowing that your pledge will be fulfilled and, more importantly, your donation is secure. No need to worry about checks being mailed (and potentially lost or stolen). 
$84 per month. $250 per quarter. $1000 one-time per year. The choice is yours.

Recognition Opportunities

Paul Harris Society ChevronMembers of the Paul Harris Society are eligible to receive wearable recognition to show their yearly commitment to Be the Inspiration. The chevrons, which are the official mark of the Society, can be worn with other pins, including the Paul Harris Fellow pin, Major Donor pin, Bequest Society pin, and Arch Klumph Society pin. When you join, you also receive a certificate suitable for framing, thanking and recognizing your membership.
"Accessories for your pins and certificates are wonderful, but at the end of the day, joining the Paul Harris Society is about helping people," added Carr. "It’s about changing lives, improving them for the better. It’s about making a difference, and leaving this place a little better than when we found it. That is the power of the Paul Harris Society. To effect change that can be positive, life-changing, and inspiring."
There’s room in the Paul Harris Society for you. We’re on a mission to 300. Help us meet that goal, and commit to doing good in the world TODAY.