A few months ago, we revisited the role of Rotary Clubs as grantmakers and also groups of affluent community members involved in philanthropy. Although some people are surprised that these clubs still exist, they’re actually thriving and pulling in millions of dollars from dues, then pushing that money back out into their home districts. Back then, we looked at the latest work of the Rotary Club of Los Angeles, but this isn’t the only place in California where Rotary members are giving back to local nonprofits.
The Rotary Club of Menlo Park is made up of active and retired professionals who live or work in Menlo Park or the neighboring cities. Between now and March 31, the Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation is accepting applications for 2017 grants. There are just two areas of interest that this group is focusing on: youth education and mental and physical health. To be eligible for these grants, your organization must provide services to people in Menlo Park, the adjacent incorporated areas, or East Palo Alto. This is only an opportunity for nonprofits, not government agencies or other types of organizations.
In the past, grantmaking from this foundation hasn’t been huge—typically $20,000 to $25,000 total per year—but Rotary is still a good organization to get connected with. That’s because there are some very prominent individuals in the Menlo Park community that are part of this club and that may be inclined to make individual donations to charities they care about too once you get on their radar.
In addition to grantmaking, this Rotary Club has a scholarship program for high school graduates and a community garden project in Belle Haven. “Taste of Menlo & Beyond,” a food, wine, and music benefit, and “Tour de Menlo,” a bike ride, are the group’s two major annual fundraising events. Today, the local group’s foundation has an endowment of over $2.5 million.
You can download the application form and review the guidelines on the Menlo Park Rotary page. The application is pretty straightforward, and otherwise you’ll just need to establish your 501c3 status, your location and service area, which of the funding areas you support, and how your program will alleviate a compelling need. As a general rule, this Rotary Club tends to support smaller and more locally oriented nonprofits than larger, regional ones.
Funding decisions will be made by April 30, and if you receive a grant, you’ll be expected to present your project at a Menlo Park Rotary meeting within one year. If you’re reading this and outside the Menlo Park Rotary’s funding region, visit the Rotary Club Finder page to see if there’s a group near you that also provides grantmaking opportunities.