ROTARY CHARITIES: OUR FUTURE
Strategic planning in preparation for the future has been the charge of the current Charities’ board. The board has tackled a range of heady issues, resulting in the development of these tenets as Charities contemplates its future:
- Non-profit sustainability
- Portfolio savings
- Rotary Charities’ board self-evaluation process
- Re-examination of the grant making process
- Emphasis on accountability
- Re-examination of all Charities’ policies
All of this, and more, are the result of a time intensive strategic planning process the Rotary Charities board has undertaken over the past two years.
Motivation for the strategic initiative was the realization that Charities’ oil and gas royalties were dwindling. In order to continue to make a significant impact in the region, Rotary Charities had to become more efficient at leveraging its assets.
The planning initiative has represented a significant investment in time and energy by Charities’ ten directors. When the planning began, George Bearup was serving as chairman. And although George was one of the ring leaders of strategic planning advocacy---his first meeting as board chair was coincidentally the group’s first strategic planning session---he’s quick to credit fellow trustees for their dedication and hard work.
“This is not a process we’ve taken lightly,” he observes. “And all of our directors have played key roles in its implementation.”
Rotarian and strategic planner Howard King, a former college dean and business consultant, was asked to facilitate the planning process.
Requested to attend every board and committee meeting during the strategic planning period, he did. “Howard became the embodiment of implementing our strategic plan,” remarks George. “He kept us on course and prevented us from veering off. He helped us greatly to put into place and practice daily our strategic initiative.”
Another big help at the ‘heavy lifting’ sessions, notes George, was attorney and Rotarian, Pat Wilson. Involved with Charities since its inception in the mid-70s, his counsel was key to implementing the initiative.
Over its grant making years, Charities has developed a reputation as a willing listener to a wide range of requests from organization throughout the region.
“Rotary Charities has never turned away any applicant in terms of at least listening to their case and considering their request,” he explains. “We may in future, however, find ourselves having to narrow our focus a bit, and not serving as many areas of interest as we have in the past. This is not a charge we take lightly since there’s a lot of tradition to consider.”
He points out that in recent years, the board emphasis has been on community philanthropy. A Rotary Fund at the Community Foundation has been created, as well as a Matching Gift Program for Rotarians.
This focus, George says, has also led to the development of the PRI program and helping non-profits become more sustainable.
“It follows that if we’re going to encourage community philanthropy, we should also help the organizations which will benefit from this and help them handle these gifts responsibly.”
Charities’ future focus, he observes, will include helping non-profits build the capacity of their organizations.
Flexibility and independence, virtually free of bureaucratic restraints, has historically been Charities’ mode of operation. “We’re unique from other charities and organizations, because we literally have this blank slate, if you will, which allows us to create or finance programs we think are necessary,” George says.
“Great ideas can be heard swiftly. And we can act on those ideas quickly. That’s what I think distinguishes us from others within our community and throughout the state.”
As for Charities future operational style, one thing that will remain constant is the group’s investment in the people of the region.
“Rotary Charities has always invested our money in people---believing they’re the ones who will make the future,” notes George. “I’m sure we’ll continue to do just that.”