What is Rotary ?

"Rotary is an organization of business and professional persons united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world."

How do you describe the organization called "Rotary"? There are so many characteristics of a Rotary club as well as the activities of a million Rotarians. There are the features of service, internationality, fellowship, classifications of each vocation, development of goodwill and world understanding, the emphasis of high ethical standards, concern for other people and many more descriptive qualities.

In 1976 the Rotary International Board of Directors was interested in creating a concise definition of the fundamental aspects of Rotary. They turned to the three men who were then serving on Rotary's Public Relations Committee and requested that a one-sentence definition of Rotary be prepared. After numerous drafts, the committee presented this definition, which has been used ever since in various Rotary publications:

"Rotary is an organization of business and professional persons united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world."

Those 31 words are worth remembering when someone asks, "What is a Rotary club?"

Object of Rotary

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

FIRST. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;

SECOND. High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society;

THIRD. The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life;

FOURTH. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

Rotary Milestones

1905    

First Rotary club organized in Chicago, Illinois, USA
 

1908    

Second club formed in San Francisco, California, USA
 

1910    

First Rotary convention held in Chicago

1912     The Rotary Club of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, becomes the first club outside the United States to be officially chartered. (The club was formed in 1910.)
 
1917     Endowment fund, forerunner of The Rotary Foundation, established
 
1932     4-Way Test formulated by Chicago Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor
 
1945     Forty-nine Rotarians help draft United Nations Charter in San Francisco
 
1947     Rotary founder Paul Harris dies; first 18 Rotary Foundation scholarships granted
 
1962     First Interact club formed in Melbourne, Florida, USA
 
1965     Rotary Foundation launches Matching Grants and Group Study Exchange programs
 
1978     RI's largest convention, with 39,834 registrants, held in Tokyo
1985     Rotary announces PolioPlus program to immunize all the children of the world against polio
 
1989     Council on Legislation opens Rotary membership to women worldwide; Rotary clubs chartered in Budapest, Hungary, and Warsaw, Poland, for first time in almost 50 years
 
1990     Rotary Club of Moscow chartered first club in Soviet Union
 
1990-91     Preserve Planet Earth program inspires some 2,000 Rotary-sponsored environmental projects
 
1994     Western Hemisphere declared polio-free
 
1999       Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution established
 
2000       Western Pacific declared polio-free
 
2001     30,000th Rotary club chartered
 
2002     Europe declared polio-free; first class of 70 Rotary Peace Scholars begin study
 
2003   Rotarians raise more than US$118 million to support the final stages of polio eradication

 

The Object of Rotary is to "encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise."  Rotary is a service organization.  Since 1910, the Rotary Motto has been "Service Above Self."

Rotary strives to achieve it's objective of "Service Above Self" through activities in five primary areas. These area are often referred to as the Five Avenues of Service.

Club Service

This "Avenue" promotes the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service.  It involves the activities necessary to make the Club function successfully and achieve its goals.

Vocational Service

This area represents the opportunity that each Rotarian has to represent the dignity and utility of one's vocation as an opportunity to serve society.  Rotarians promote and foster high ethical standards in business and professions and promote the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations.

Community Service

This "Avenue" relates to the activities that Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community.  Particular emphasis is given to helping children, needy families, the aged, the handicapped, and those most in need of assistance.  Rotarians strive to promote the ideal of service in their personal, business, and community lives.

International Service

In this area, Rotarians strive for the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.  International Service Projects are designed to meet the humanitarian needs of people in many lands, with particular emphasis on the most underprivileged children and families in developing countries.

Youth Service

This relates to the activities that Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their communities Youth.  Particular emphasis is given to helping children, needy families, and those most in need of assistance.  Rotarians strive to promote the ideal of service in their personal, business, and community lives.  This is the newest area of Service and has been split out of the Community Service Area and given full Director status to Emphasize that while "Mankind is our business ... children are our bottom line!".

Some Quotes from Rotary Leaders

"Nothing is more momentous to a people than their concepĀ­tion of goodness. It is as true of nations as of individuals that as they think in their hearts so are they. Those who mold a nation's thoughts and shape its ideals hold its destiny in their keeping."

Paul P. Harris, Message to 1918 Rotary Convention,

Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A


                          Believe in What You Do - Do What You Believe In

"To strengthen our belief that only with an open mind, an open heart, open eyes, and open hands we will reach the highest quality of life, we need to be accompanied by like-minded friends in an atmosphere of good humor, serenity, and spontaneous practical day-to-day humanity.

That's what I found in Rotary. That's why I am a Rotarian."

Robert Barth

President, Rotary International, 1993-94.

Rotary Club of Aarau , Switzerland .


Thank you for your interest in Rotary and possibly becoming a Rotarian.
 
Rotary International is an association of individual clubs that operate autonomously. Membership is extremely important to us, and we are always eager to hear from individuals interested in our mission and joining a Rotary club.

Our universal premise is that each club's membership constitutes an accurate representation of the business and professional population within the community served. Membership in a Rotary club requires an invitation and sponsorship by a member of the club as well as an available business or professional classification. Sometimes an individual cannot be invited or sponsored for membership. Your information will be forwarded to a Club(s) in your Community.

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