History of CART
HOW WE STARTED...
In October 1995, the Sumter Rotary Club in South Carolina, led by Roger Ackerman and Dr. Jack Bevan, initiated the effort to prove that Rotarians voluntarily emptying their pockets of change for a good cause could produce significant levels of funds to support Alzheimer’s Disease research. The CART Fund (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) was the name given to the project.
In May 1996, The CART Fund was introduced at the Rotary District 7770 Conference and was enthusiastically received. The District leaders agreed to adopt CART as a project if a committee made up of Sumter Rotarians could obtain the support of the individual clubs in the District. During the 1996-97 Rotary year, CART programs were presented in 62 of the 68 clubs in D-7770. The response was overwhelmingly in support of this grassroots project and the district officially adopted CART as a district-wide program in 1997.
HOW WE GREW...
The CART Fund was developed with the idea of accomplishing its goals without conducting fundraising projects and without interfering with other Rotary club projects. In order to do this, CART leaders developed the concept of asking Rotarians to voluntarily empty their pockets of change, or whatever amount they wanted to donate, when they attend their weekly meetings, providing a simple, painless and effective way to raise much-needed funds for Alzheimer’s research.
As time has passed, numerous clubs have contributed a portion, or even all, of the proceeds of club fundraisers and special events to CART. Many Rotarians contribute dollars as well as pocket change. Since 2020, an online donor portal has offered an easy way to contribute funds outside of club meetings, allowing us to expand our reach beyond Rotary Clubs and increase our donations outside of coins and cash.
In recent years, many individuals who are not members of Rotary have made significant contributions to CART. Memorials and honorariums have been a great source of funds for CART, and we recently added naming opportunities for grants via major gifts of $100,000 or more.
Since its inception, CART has continued our original goal of dedicating 100% of every donation to research. In 2018, a supporting non-profit organization, TRAC (Trust Rotarians for an Alzheimer's Cure) was created to accept contributions designated for operating and program expenses. A part-time executive director is contracted through TRAC to manage volunteers and fundraising.
Today, we are supported by nearly 450 Rotary Clubs, mostly on the East Coast but also across the US. Our goal is to continue to increase giving in our strong donor base in Rotary Zones 33 and 34, while also attracting additional interest from other Rotary clubs, districts and zones, as well as non-Rotarians who share a similar passion for finding a cure for Alzheimer's.
In 2022, CART underwent a complete branding and imaging campaign with a new logo, new materials to support our volunteers and a "recurring giving" recognition program though our online donor portal. Donors who commit to a recurring gift of at least $5 per month (or $15/quarter or $60/year) will be recognized as members of the newly created "Roger Ackerman Circle" and members who enroll will receive a limited-edition lapel pin.
An article in the May 2023 issue of Rotary magazine sparked interest from Rotarians around the country, expanding our support. A new initiative, Lunch A La CART, is a monthly zoom "lunch and learn" session with one of our researchers. Anyone is invited to attend for the presentation and Q&A session. Dates and links are on the Calendar of our website.