Optimist International Foundations

From its founding, Optimist International had been funded solely by dues paid by Optimists. For a time this was sufficient. However, as the years went by it became more and more obvious that this was placing a limit on the service to Clubs, especially when it came to enlarging and broadening the scope of existing activities and the creation of sorely needed new ones.

Out of this situation came the idea of forming a foundation to fund Optimist International programs. In 1969, the Board of Directors instructed the Optimist International Finance Committee to go to work on the detailed creation of this foundation. After many months of study and research the new foundation was officially announced at the 1971 International Convention. Past International President Gene Sternberg explained to the delegates what the Optimist International Foundation’s purpose was. “This corporation is created and shall be operated exclusively for the charitable, literary and educational purposes of Optimist International.”

An article in the October 1972 issue of The Optimist exclaimed, “Creation of the Foundation now provides a method by which members, friends and others who, recognizing the need for expanded services, may make financial contributions by various means.”

Initially, the Foundation was challenged to secure the necessary resources to fund the programs of Optimist International. With an influx of financial support, Optimist International would be able to expand current programs and further cast the reach of its influence. And so, a fundraising goal of one million dollars was announced, and members quickly lent their financial resources to the cause. Ten years later, through the generous support of Optimists, the Foundation reached the one million dollar goal.

To meet the desires of Canadian members, the Optimist International Foundation of Canada was established in 1988. This foundation was established to allow Canadians making a contribution to receive a charitable tax deduction and support the programs of Canadian Optimists. One hundred percent of funds raised in Canada stay in Canada to fund programs.