November is the month when we focus on The Rotary Foundation.  This “Foundation Month” has a special focus in this Centennial year of  Rotary in Australia, which has shined a spotlight on its architect, Arch Klumph who was RI president in 1916-17. He has been perhaps less well known than he should have been, although  his name is enshrined in The Arch Klumph Society, which recognises those who donate more than US$250,000 to The Rotary Foundation.             
In so many ways Arch Klumph stands right next to Paul Harris for his contribution to Rotary and like Paul Harris his personal story is inspirational.                                              Born in 1869 in poor circumstances, he left school at the age of 12. Through hard work, study after hours and talent he became a significant businessman, eventually running a Bank and a shipping line. He had other talents and taught himself to play the flute, not remarkable of itself but he went on to become a flautist with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. Arch Klumph’s Rotary career was just as remarkable. From charter member of the Rotary Club of Cleveland in 1911 in just 6 years he became RI President. Subsequently he chaired the Committee that wrote the Rotary International Constitution and personally was the architect of much of what we know as Rotary today, such as dividing Rotary into districts, establishment of the office of District Governor and the annual District Conference.                                                                                                    Most of us know a version of the story of how The Rotary Endowment Fund came about, through “a vision, a little inspiration” from Arch Klumph. At the end of his term as RI President the Rotary Club of Kansas City collected money for a gift to the retiring President and when they closed the account they donated the surplus of $26.50 as seed money for the Rotary Endowment Fund, which Arch Klumph had proposed.                                                                                                                     
Despite ongoing encouragement from Arch Klumph, the fund grew slowly but that changed in 1928 when delegates to the Convention that year renamed the fund to The Rotary Foundation, with separate Trustees and a separate bank account! Funds started to come in strongly and it was Paul Harris in 1929 who asked The Foundation to make its first donation (to the International Society for Crippled Children).  Efforts to accumulate really significant funds were set back by World War II but in a sense it was that tragedy that defined the future role of The Foundation to become an instrument for peace in the future Today the mission of The Rotary Foundation remains the same - to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.                                                      We often overlook that so many traditional Rotary activities are made possible through The Rotary Foundation and Rotary as we know it today would be very different without The Rotary Foundation and the programs that it funds. It is indeed the “engine room” of Rotary. The whole premise of The Rotary Foundation is that it is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.