On Wednesday, over breakfast with the Rotary Club of Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Dick Smith announced a donation of AU$1 million to Rotary (about US$750,000), citing admiration of Rotary members for the time they devote to others.
The Rotary Australia Benevolent Society (RABS) will administer the funds.
“With 29,500 Rotarians in 1,100 clubs throughout Australia, we have an army of volunteers eager to assist those in need,” says Michael Perkins, RABS chair. “The impact of this donation will be felt throughout all of Australia, from the cities to the Outback. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Smith for trusting Rotary to use his donation to expand our work in this country.”
The society will distribute the funds to Australian Rotary clubs for community service projects, beginning in February. Smith and his wife, Pip, will determine eligibility criteria.
In 1968, the couple invested in a small taxi radio repair company that grew into a multimillion-dollar electronics retailer. In the 1980s and 1990s, Smith founded Australian Geographic magazine and launched a major food brand, and his aviation feats claimed headlines. In 1983, he completed the first solo helicopter flight around the world.
Smith has contributed to a range of social causes, including Rotary’s polio eradication campaign.