Posted on Mar 24, 2021


As people of action, Rotary members want to find ways to respond to COVID-19, and to help people affected by it. The Rotary Foundation offers several options that Rotarians can use to help care for and protect people in their own communities and others around the world.
Q: Can my district use district grants to fund COVID-19 related projects?
A: Yes, districts can use district grant funds to support local activities, like purchasing thermometers, protective medical gear, or other items to donate to medical professionals who need them. Districts can also use contingency funds from an open district grant or repurpose previously planned activities as a COVID-19 response.

Q: What if my district already has expenses related to COVID-19 activities?
A: As a one-time exception, the Foundation will allow expenses related to COVID-19 that were incurred since 15 March 2020 to be reimbursed through 2020-21 district grants.

Q: Can I use a global grant to fund COVID-19 related projects?
A: Yes. Global grants remain an excellent way to make a transformative impact in a community. If medical equipment is needed in order to respond effectively to COVID-19, global grants can help pay for these items. Note that global grant applications must adhere to standard eligibility requirements as noted in the grant terms and conditions and the area of focus policy statements.

Q: Can I apply for a disaster response grant for COVID-19 related projects?
A: No, disaster response grants are no longer available to support COVID-19 related projects.

Q: Can my club or district use Rotary Foundation grant funds to purchase COVID-19 vaccines?
A: No, Rotary Foundation grant funds may not be used to purchase COVID-19 vaccines. This restriction applies to district, global and disaster response grants.

For additional information, contact your regional grants officer.


Q: Will Rotary have a role to play in COVID-19 vaccinations?
A: Yes. Rotary will tap into its decades of experience in bringing polio to the brink of eradication, to highlight the power and efficacy of vaccines. Rotary’s tenacity, strategic partnerships, and innovation can all support the effort to protect communities from COVID-19. 
Rotary and its partners at the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) recently announced that it is ready to support vaccine introduction and delivery. The group is also committed to equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and lending its support to ensure that all communities have equal access to vaccines.
More information and resources will soon be available for clubs and districts. 

Q: Are the RI Board of Directors and Foundation Trustees taking action in regards to vaccines? 
A: Yes, they are. At a recent joint session, the RI Board and Trustees created a joint task force that will develop and execute a plan to encourage Rotary and Rotaract clubs to support vaccinations. 

Q: How can Rotary and Rotaractors get involved? 
A: There are several ways members can get involved. Members can enhance community education on COVID-19 vaccinations by sharing information from local and regional health authorities and supporting their efforts. They should contact local health departments to determine where assistance is most needed. Moreover, members can connect with local health officials, including World Health Organization and UNICEF where applicable, to advocate for and support their efforts to ensure all communities receive equal access to the vaccine. 

Q: What about vaccine misinformation and hesitancy? Are there ways to combat this?
A: Yes. Rotary is asking members to disseminate accurate, fact-based information as provided by local health agencies. It’s important to spread the word that vaccines work by using #vaccineswork in their social media postings. Highlight Rotary’s work on polio as a key example. 
Members can invite medical professionals or local health officials to speak at club meetings. Try to also engage with local media, for example writing letters to the editor, in support of local efforts and vaccine safety and efficacy—using Rotary’s success in polio eradication as a proof point.

Q: COVID-19 is still spreading around the world. What should members do to help stop the spread?
A: Members need to continue to participate in projects that support mask wearing, social distancing, proper hygiene practices, and donations of personal protection equipment. 
More importantly, members should lead by example, by wearing masks and practicing social distancing  . Share images online that reflect these lifesaving behaviors. Get vaccinated. When the time arrives for you to receive the vaccine, share your experience online. 

Q: How can I share my efforts? 
A: Let the Rotary world know what your club or district is doing to support COVID-19 vaccine introduction efforts by posting your initiatives and projects on Rotary Showcase. 


Q: How does the COVID-19 pandemic impact Rotary’s fight to end polio?
A: In our work to end polio, the program sees the devastating impact that communicable diseases have. With this in mind, we are fully committed to supporting national health systems by engaging our expertise and assets to help mitigate and contain the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside continuing concerted efforts to eradicate polio.
Using the vast infrastructure developed to identify the poliovirus and deliver vaccination campaigns, the polio eradication program is pitching in to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19, especially in polio-endemic countries. From Pakistan to Nigeria, the program is drawing on years of experience fighting outbreaks to support governments as they respond to the new virus. Learn more.

Q: How can I become involved with COVID-19 while still fighting to end polio?
A: Rotary and its partners remain steadfastly dedicated to fulfilling our promise of a polio-free world, and work continues to meet the remaining challenges. We still need the support of Rotarians everywhere to help make global polio eradication a reality.  The most important way that Rotary members can continue the fight polio is to raise $50 million each year for PolioPlus, which is matched 2-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. By continuing to raise funds for polio eradication, you’ll ensure that Rotary and its partners can continue its critical work to vaccinate vulnerable children against polio, perform vital surveillance activities, and implement new strategies to meet the remaining challenges to achieving a polio-free world.


Q: Should my club or district continue to hold meetings?
A: Rotary International recommends that districts and Rotary and Rotaract clubs meet virtually, cancel, or postpone meetings. Closely examine your personal circumstances, including any health issues, when you consider travel and participation in events.
Learn from other clubs about hosting virtual club meetings in the Learning Center. 


Q: Will the RI Board of Directors and The Rotary Foundation Trustees meet during this pandemic?
A: Yes, the RI Board and the Foundation Trustees meetings will take place remotely via webinar rather than in-person.

Q: Did the RI Board take any recent action in response to COVID-19?
A: Yes. At the January 2021 Rotary International Board of Directors meeting, the Board made important decisions to reflect Rotary’s clear responsibilities in mitigating the threat of COVID-19. As the pandemic continues to surge in many parts of the world, protecting the health and safety of our employees, members and families, and communities must be our first priority.  

The Board decided to host the Rotary International Convention virtually again this year. As an added precaution, the Board also decided not to fund any expenses (travel and otherwise) associated with in-person meetings for Rotary leaders for the remainder of the Rotary year, other than for the president, president-elect, and trustee chair. This decision applies to directors, trustees, regional leaders, district governors, assistant governors, and other leaders. RI Board meetings and committee meetings will remain virtual as well. 

Through this decision, Rotary is following the guidance of the World Health Organization and national public health authorities in limiting unnecessary travel and observing the best public health practices, fulfilling our responsibility to best protect our members and the communities we serve. 

Q: Is the Rotary International secretariat taking precautions?
A: All RI staff travel, both international and domestic, has also been canceled through 30 June 2021. 

RI staff at Evanston headquarters and all of Rotary’s global offices are practicing social distancing by working from home.


Q: How are Rotary Peace Fellowships impacted by the pandemic? 
A: Due to the current pandemic situation, funded travel is highly restricted and will be approved on a case-by-case basis. Fellows currently in a country experiencing the spread of COVID-19 are advised to follow the recommendations of your host university and the country’s national health agencies. 

For first-year fellows preparing for your applied field experience, we recommend you consider options in your study country and have an alternate plan in place in case travel is restricted further. Beyond health and safety concerns, we do not want fellows to be subject to quarantines or have challenges returning to the country where you study because of your field experience travel. You can contact your staff specialist with specific questions about how Rotary’s policy may affect your field experience planning.

Q: What should I know about Interact and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) during this time? 
A: Consider whether planned events, trips, or local activities could expose young people to an increased risk, and consider canceling or postponing nonessential travel or large gatherings. 

Follow the guidance of schools for any closures or delayed start times that may affect school-based program participants. Discuss how they can stay engaged and safe until school resumes. Talk with parents or guardians about their child’s health and safety and what Rotary clubs and districts are doing to minimize the exposure and impact for participants in Rotary activities and events. 

Q: What should I know about other types of Rotary programs and exchanges?
A: Participants in Rotary Fellowships and Rotary Action Groups and their affiliated chapters should follow recommendations from the World Health Organization and the host region’s national, regional, or local health authorities when considering whether to cancel or postpone events, meetings, or activities.

Districts organizing international programs such as Rotary Friendship Exchanges and New Generations Service Exchanges could expose participants to an increased risk. Organizers should follow the guidelines set by the World Health Organization and the national, regional, or local health authorities of participating districts when considering whether to cancel or postpone planned trips or activities.


Q: Have there been any changes to Rotary-funded travel for 2021?
A: Yes. The RI Board decided not to fund any expenses (travel or otherwise) for in-person meetings for Rotary leaders for the rest of the Rotary year, other than for the RI president, president-elect, and Foundation trustee chair. This decision applies to directors, trustees, regional leaders, district governors, assistant governors, and other leaders. 

Q: What about grant-funded travel?
A: All grants approved before 1 February that include funded travel can proceed with that travel as planned as long as the travel situation has been reviewed and deemed allowable by The Rotary Foundation. Any grants approved after 1 February will need to hold off on any travel until after the suspension is lifted. Your regional grants officer will work with you on any grants including travel.

Q: Will Rotary refund me for expenses related to cancelling my event or attendance, such as airfare, venue, accommodation, etc.? 
A: In line with the Board’s decision, Rotary will not issue refunds for expenses related to in-person events or meetings. Please review your contracts and cancellation policies; most vendors have been flexible with respect to cancellation fees.

Q: What if my travel was already approved by RITS?
A: No travel from 1 February through 30 June will be funded, even if that travel was previously approved and/or purchased by RITS. If your ticket was issued, RITS will initiate the refund request only for travel that was pre-approved and purchased through RITS.

Q: How does this affect Rotary Peace Fellows? 
A: Peace fellows currently studying abroad will be funded to return home. 

Q: My government health authorities are permitting in-person events if precautions are followed. Why is Rotary issuing a blanket policy not to fund in-person across all locations? 
A: As an organization at the forefront of fighting global disease, including COVID-19, we have clear responsibilities in mitigating the impact of this pandemic. And as leaders in our communities, Rotary members set an example for others. During the past year, our organization has done a remarkable job adapting to these unique circumstances with excellent results, and Rotarians have found effective and innovative ways to meet virtually.  

This is a rapidly evolving public health crisis and we all have an important role to play in the months ahead. Although some countries have done an admirable job managing the pandemic, and the threat may not seem severe everywhere, as a humanitarian organization we must act responsibly to protect our members and the communities we serve. 

Q: How can I fulfill my responsibilities solely through virtual meetings and events? How can Rotary help me?  
A: During the past year, our organization has done a remarkable job adapting to these unique circumstances with excellent results, and Rotarians have found effective and innovative ways to meet virtually. 

The Rotary Learning Center created a new topic, Meeting Online, where members can share their own resources and best practices with one another. And visit the Rotary Voices blog, for numerous examples of how clubs and members are carrying out virtual events and service projects.


Donate to the Disaster Response Fund – Your gift helps Rotary clubs provide disaster recovery and support rebuilding efforts, including projects related to COVID-19.