Posted by Diana Schoberg on May 22, 2019
with Margie Horning, Stillwater Sunrise Rotary and District 5960 District Grants Team Leader.

1. How have you seen district grants help members become more engaged?

Participating in district grants gives Rotarians a sense of ownership and the knowledge that they made a difference in someone’s life. It also energizes people to donate to The Rotary Foundation and to become involved. A few years ago, there was a club in my district that hardly participated in giving to the Foundation and didn’t do any district grants. Then they applied for a district grant for a food shelf in their rural community. Within a year of seeing how their funds doubled because of the grant, nine members had become Paul Harris Fellows. They had a sense of pride, and they’ve gone on to be involved with other service projects.

2. Are district grants more often used for local or international projects?

Generally speaking, more district grant projects are local than international. For example, in our district, seven of our 25 district grants in 2017-18 were used for international projects. Currently, seven of our 18 projects are in foreign countries, including Guatemala, India, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda.

3. How do district grants help clubs foster relationships with the community?

District grants can be like building blocks; they can allow clubs to start small and then go larger with their projects. There are always needs in your community. Even if it’s a $1,000 or $2,000 grant, get going on it. It doesn’t have to be a multimillion-dollar project to begin with.

4. What’s the most creative use of local district grants that you’ve seen?

Clubs have gone far beyond the park bench or dictionary project. They’re working with their communities, asking how they can help, and thinking bigger. One club, working closely with its local school district to come up with projects, provided equipment and software for an industry certification. It will help students get jobs in manufacturing or, if they go on to higher education, will count toward their coursework.

5. What are some misconceptions about district grants?

People say, “I could never do that; it’s too hard.” Our district has mentors who will help walk clubs through the process. It may seem like a lot of work, but that grant money allows you to apply your club’s extra funds to another project you want to work on. Apply for the grant, and if it’s too big a project for just your club, the district grants team can help you connect with other clubs.

— Diana Schoberg

June 2019 Rotarian Magazine