Rotary International, the world’s
first service club organization,
is made up of 33,000 clubs in
more than 200 countries and
geographical areas. Its members
form a global network of busi-
ness, professional, and commu-
nity leaders who volunteer their
time and talents to serve their
communities and the world.
Rotary’s motto, Service
Above Self, exemplifies the hu-
manitarian spirit of the organi-
zation’s more than 1.2 million
“Rotary lets you give
something back, in the
knowledge that you belong
to the largest family of
— Deanna Ann Duguid,
Strong fellowship among
Rotarians and meaningful
community and international
service projects characterize
Rotary enjoys a rich and
sometimes complex tradition
and organizational structure,
with many programs that can
be confusing to new and even
not-so-new members. The
following pages offer a basic
Rotary education — the fun-
damental knowledge that will
make every member better in-
formed about Rotary and proud
to be a Rotarian.
Now online at www.rotary.org/rotarybasics
Chicago attorney Paul Harris
the organization Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, and Switzerland.
The office for RI in Great Britain and Ireland
organizes first Rotary meeting of Rotary (RIBI), located in England, serves clubs and
on 23 February, leading to
formation of the Rotary Club Rotary is essentially a grassroots organization, districts in that region. The Secretariat’s chief
of Chicago. with most of its service efforts being carried operating officer is the RI general secretary,
out at the club level. The district and inter- who heads a 740-member staff working to
national structure is designed to support the serve Rotarians worldwide.
Rotary Club of Chicago
helps to organize installation clubs and help them provide more service in
of public toilets, one of the their local communities and abroad.
club’s first acts of community
service. Clubs Rotarians are members of Rotary Benefits and
clubs, which belong to the global association Responsibilities of
1910-11 Rotary International (RI). Each club elects
Paul Harris elected first
its own officers and enjoys considerable
president of National The club is the cornerstone of Rotary, where
Association of Rotary Clubs at autonomy within the framework of Rotary’s
the first convention. constitution and bylaws. the most meaningful work is carried out. All
effective Rotary clubs are responsible for four
1911-13 Districts Clubs are grouped into 531 RI dis- key elements: sustaining or increasing their
Clubs formed in Canada, tricts, each led by a district governor, who is membership base, participating in service
Great Britain, and Ireland; an officer of RI. The district administration,
organization name changes to projects that benefit their own community
International Association of including assistant governors and various and those in other countries, supporting
Rotary Clubs. committees, guides and supports the clubs. The Rotary Foundation of RI financially and
RI Board The 19-member RI Board of Direc- through program participation, and devel-
Club chartered in Cuba, the tors, which includes the RI president and oping leaders capable of serving in Rotary
first non-English-speaking president-elect, meets quarterly to establish beyond the club level.
Rotary country. policies. Traditionally, the RI president, who What Rotarians get out of Rotary de-
is elected annually, develops a theme and pends largely on what they put into it. Many
President Arch Klumph service emphases for the year. membership requirements are designed to
proposes establishing an
The Secretariat Rotary help members more fully
endowment fund, precursor of
International is head- “The more I learn about participate in and enjoy
The Rotary Foundation.
quartered in the Chicago their Rotary experience.
Rotary, the more I love
suburb of Evanston, Service All Rotary clubs
Illinois, USA, with seven Rotary.” share a key mission:
international offices in — Michael P Slevnik, USA
. to serve their commu-
1942-43 Argentina, Australia, nity and those in need
Rotary conference in London
on education and cultural
exchange sets stage for
Forty-nine Rotarians help
draft the UN Charter.
Founder Paul Harris dies
in Chicago; outpouring of
funds from Rotarians used to
establish fellowship program.
First 18 Rotary Fellows
study abroad, a precursor of
“Thanks to one persistent
Rotarian who did not
know the meaning of
‘Thank you, but no,’ I am
now a member of the
— Sylvia Byers, Australia
throughout the world. By participating
in club service projects, members learn
about their club’s involvement in local
and international projects and can vol-
unteer their time and talents where they
are most needed.
Membership recruitment and
retention To keep clubs strong, every
Rotarian must share the responsibil-
ity of bringing new people into Rotary.
Even new members can bring guests to Rotary policy requires members Rotary’s mission expanded, the Object
meetings or invite them to participate to attend at least 50 percent of club of Rotary provides a succinct definition
in a service project. The value of Rotary meetings in each half of the year. If of the organization’s purpose as well as
speaks for itself, and the best way to members miss their own club’s meet- the club member’s responsibilities.
spark the interest of potential members ing, they’re encouraged to expand their The Object of Rotary is to encourage
is by letting them experience fellowship Rotary horizons by attending make- and foster the ideal of service as a basis
and service firsthand. up meetings at any Rotary club in the of worthy enterprise and, in particular,
Keeping members interested in world — a practice that guarantees to encourage and foster:
Rotary is another responsibility. Good Rotarians a warm welcome in commu-
club fellowship and early involvement nities around the globe. Find meeting FIRST The development of
in service projects are two of the best places and times in the Official Direc- acquaintance as an opportunity for
ways to sustain the club’s membership. tory or through the Club Locator at service;
The ideal composition of a Rotary www.rotary.org. SECOND High ethical standards
club reflects the community’s demo- Rotarians can also make up meet- in business and professions; the
graphics, including professions, gender, ings by participating in a club service recognition of the worthiness
age, and ethnicity. Such diversity project or by attending a club board of all useful occupations; and
enriches every aspect of the club’s fel- meeting, a Rotaract or Interact club the dignifying of each Rotarian’s
lowship and service. meeting, or an online meeting at one of occupation as an opportunity to serve
Attendance Attending club meetings several Rotary e-clubs. society;
allows members to enjoy their club’s
THIRD The application of the ideal
fellowship, enrich their professional and Rotary’s Guiding of service in each Rotarian’s personal,
personal knowledge, and meet other
business leaders in their community.
Principles business, and community life;
Club meeting times vary to accommo- Throughout Rotary’s history, several
FOURTH The advancement
date members’ family and professional basic principles have been developed to
of international understanding,
commitments. Some clubs meet during guide Rotarians in achieving the ideal
goodwill, and peace through a
the traditional time of the lunch hour, of service and high ethical standards.
world fellowship of business and
while others meet in the early morning, Object of Rotary First formulated in professional persons united in the
after work, or in the evening. 1910 and adapted through the years as ideal of service.
1962-63 lub Service focuses on strengthening
First Interact club formed in
Melbourne, Florida, USA.
fellowship and ensuring the effective
World Community Service functioning of the club.
ocational Service encourages
1965-66 Rotarians to serve others through their
Special Grants (now Matching vocations and to practice high ethical
Grants) and Group Study
Exchange programs begin.
ommunity Service covers the projects
First Rotaract club
and activities the club undertakes to
formed in Charlotte, improve life in its community.
North Carolina, USA.
nternational Service encompasses
1978-79 actions taken to expand Rotary’s
Health, Hunger and humanitarian reach around the globe
and to promote world understanding
1979-80 Classification principle By assigning each
Foundation grant to immunize
member a classification based on his or her
six million Philippine children
against polio sets stage for business or profession, this system ensures RI Programs
PolioPlus. that the club’s membership reflects the busi- RI’s programs and service opportunities
ness and professional composition of its are designed to help Rotarians meet needs
1984-85 in their own communities and reach out to
Rotary launches PolioPlus
community. The number of members holding
program and campaigns a particular classification is limited according assist people in need worldwide.
to raise US$120 million to to the size of the club. The goal is professional Interact Rotary clubs organize and sponsor
immunize all the children of
diversity, which enlivens the club’s social this service organization for youth ages 14-18;
atmosphere and provides a rich resource of more than 11,800 clubs in 162 countries and
occupational expertise to carry out service geographical areas.
projects and provide club leadership.
Rotaract Rotary clubs organize and sponsor
Avenues of Service Based on the Object of this leadership, professional development,
Rotary, the Avenues of Service are Rotary’s and service organization for young adults ages
1987-88 philosophical cornerstone and the foundation 18-30; more than 7,100 clubs in 163 countries
Through the PolioPlus on which club activity is based: and geographical areas.
campaign, Rotarians raise
US$247 million. First women Rotary Community Corps (RCC) Rotary
clubs organize and sponsor these groups of
1988-89 The Four-Way Test non-Rotarians who work to improve their
Rotary returns to Hungary Followed by Rotarians worldwide in their communities; more than 6,500 RCCs in 76
and Poland. business and professional lives, The countries and geographical areas.
Four-Way Test was created by Rotarian
1994-95 Herbert J. Taylor in 1932. It has since Rotary Fellowships and Rotarian Action
Western Hemisphere declared been translated into more than 100 Groups Rotary Fellowships (groups geared
polio-free. to vocational and recreational interests) and
languages and is used by organizations
and individuals throughout the world. Rotarian Action Groups (focused on hu-
Rotary Centers for manitarian service activities) compose Global
Of the things we think, say or do
International Studies in Networking Groups, which are open to all
peace and conflict resolution 1) Is it the TRUTH? Rotarians, spouses of Rotarians, and Rotarac-
2) Is it FAIR to all concerned? tors; more than 70 groups.
3) Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER Rotary Friendship Exchange Rotarian teams
FRIENDSHIPS? or individuals, who may be accompanied by
4) Will it be BENEFICIAL to their families, make reciprocal visits to other
all concerned? countries, staying in each other’s homes and
learning about different cultures firsthand.
Rotary Volunteers Rotarians and other Group Study Exchange is a short-
skilled professionals are provided op- “The Rotary Foundation term cultural and vocational exchange
portunities to offer their services and is the cement that binds program between districts in different
experience to local and international countries for non-Rotarian profession-
humanitarian projects. every one of us together.” als ages 25-40.
Rotary Youth Exchange Clubs and — Calum Thomson,
districts send and host students ages Scotland Humanitarian Grants Program
15-19 who travel abroad for cultural
Humanitarian grants enable Rotarians
exchanges of one week to a full year;
to increase their support of internation-
about 8,000 a year. ermanent Fund, an endowment
al service projects that provide water
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards from which only a portion of the wells, medical care, literacy classes, and
(RYLA) Clubs and districts sponsor earnings are spent in support of other essentials to people in need. Ro-
seminars to encourage and recognize Foundation programs, ensuring tarian participation is key to the success
leadership abilities of youth and young the long-term viability of the of these projects.
adults ages 14-30. Foundation
Matching Grants assist Rotary clubs
World Community Service (WCS) olioPlus Fund, which supports
and districts in carrying out humanitar-
Rotary clubs and districts from two Rotary’s goal of a polio-free world ian projects with clubs and districts in
different countries form partnerships to other countries.
Every dollar contributed to the Founda-
implement community service projects.
tion funds the humanitarian, edu- District Simplified Grants enable
ProjectLINK at www.rotary.org is a
cational, and cultural programs and districts to support service activities or
searchable database of club and district
program operations. Clubs and districts humanitarian endeavors that benefit
community service projects in need
apply for and receive Foundation grants local or international communities.
of volunteers, funding, and donated
to carry out many worthy
goods, featuring descriptions of projects
projects worldwide. The Every
seeking an international partner and
Rotarian, Every Year initiative,
examples of successful completed
designed to encourage world-
wide annual per capita giving
of $100 or more, supports
vital Foundation programs.
the Rotary Foundation
The Rotary Foundation of RI is a not- Educational Programs
for-profit corporation whose mission These programs promote
is to enable Rotarians to advance world international understanding
understanding, goodwill, and peace by bringing together people
through the improvement of health, the from different countries and
support of education, and the allevia- cultures.
tion of poverty. Ambassadorial Scholarships,
an international program for
Financial Support university-level studies, sends
In the year ended 30 June 2008, The Ro- about 800 students each year
tary Foundation received contributions to serve as ambassadors of
totaling US$245.7 million and spent goodwill while abroad.
$227.5 million in support of humanitar-
Rotary World Peace Fellow-
ian and educational programs imple-
ships are awarded to individu-
mented by clubs and districts and global
als for study in master’s degree
polio eradication activities. Contribu-
and professional certificate
tions go into one of three main funds:
programs at one of the seven
nnual Programs Fund, which
Rotary Centers for Interna-
provides grants and awards tional Studies in peace and
through Foundation programs conflict resolution.
Western Pacific region
Europe declared polio-free.
Rotary launches a second
polio eradication fundraising
campaign to help fill a critical
funding need. Rotarians raise
over US$129 million.
Clubs celebrate Rotary’s
centennial by launching
hundreds of community
projects and contributing
thousands of volunteer hours.
Health, Hunger and Human- the Rotary
ity (3-H) Grants fund long- “I have Rotary
2005-06 term, self-help, and sustainable
Polio reduced to four to thank for my Future Vision
development projects that use
countries: Afghanistan, India,
Nigeria, and Pakistan. Polio an integrative approach to ad- international Plan
cases worldwide have dropped dress humanitarian needs. network of To increase efficiency and
by 99 percent since 1985.
professionals develop a more strategic
2006-07 PolioPlus focus, The Rotary Founda-
The Rotary Foundation The PolioPlus program pro- and friends tion Trustees adopted the
recognizes the millionth
Paul Harris Fellow.
vides funding for mass immu- as well as Future Vision Plan. The plan’s
nization campaigns as well as three-year pilot will begin July
support for social mobilization,
my better 2010 and involve about 100
Rotary receives a US$100 surveillance, and laboratories to understanding Rotary districts worldwide.
million grant from the Gates help carry out the final stages and interest for Clubs in these districts will not
Foundation to help eradicate
polio. of global polio eradication. Ro- participate in current Foun-
tarians have raised funds that other people’s dation programs, which will
will amount to more than $1.2 ways of living.” be phased out by 2013. Pilot
billion in support by the time districts may apply for Rotary
polio is eradicated and have — Mohammed Foundation District Grants,
provided hundreds of thou- Rezaul Karim, which will enable them to
sands of volunteer hours. Ro- Bangladesh carry out local and interna-
tary is a spearheading partner tional projects of their choice,
with the World Health Organi- and Rotary Foundation Global
Rotary receives a US$255
million grant for polio zation, UNICEF, and U.S. Centers for Disease Grants, which will support projects in the
eradication from the Gates Control and Prevention in the initiative to following areas of focus: peace and conflict
Foundation. eradicate polio worldwide. As a result of their prevention/resolution, disease prevention
efforts, two billion children under age five and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal
have received the polio vaccine, five million and child health, basic education and literacy,
people who might otherwise be paralyzed are and economic and community development.
walking today, 500,000 new cases of polio are During the pilot phase, the Foundation will
prevented each year, and the number of polio develop strategic partnerships with a range
cases has declined by 99 percent worldwide. of organizations that share Rotary’s service
interests and will refine the plan for ment reflecting the local culture, and
participation by all Rotary districts in unparalleled opportunities to experi- Did you know?
July 2013. ence the true breadth of Rotary’s inter- Rotary Foundation Ambassado-
national fellowship. rial Scholarships is the world’s
largest, privately funded scholar-
Rotary’s US$200 District conferences Rotarians are ship program.
encouraged to attend their district con-
Million Challenge ference, an annual motivational meet- The Rotary Foundation has con-
Rotary’s leadership in the polio eradica- tributed more than $2.0 billion in
ing that showcases club and district program awards and operations
tion effort was recognized in 2009 with activities. A family event, the district since 1947.
a $255 million challenge grant from conference mixes fellowship with learn-
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. ing and allows Rotarians to become Rotarians have established a
The new funds come in addition to the more directly involved with charting
host of organizations dedicated
$100 million challenge grant received to various humanitarian causes,
their district’s future. including ShelterBox, HungerPlus,
from the Gates Foundation in 2007.
Gift of Life, and Rotary Doctor
The first grant was spent during the Bank.
2008 calendar year on immunization the Future
and other polio eradication activities, Eradicating polio is the top priority for Providing vitamin A supplements
and the second grant must be spent during polio National Immu-
Rotary International, but Rotary clubs
nization Days has averted an
in the same way in 2009. Rotary must worldwide will continue to address the estimated 1.5 million childhood
raise $100 million to match each grant critical issues of health and hunger, wa- deaths since 1998 — testimony
for a total of $200 million by 30 June ter management, and literacy through to the “plus” in PolioPlus.
2012. This fundraising effort is called local and international projects. Invit-
RI representatives work with
Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge. ing more business, professional, and many major international
Every Rotary club in the world is being community leaders to join Rotary and organizations, including the UN
asked to help meet the challenge by forming new clubs in underserved parts and several of its agencies, the
organizing a public fundraising event of the world also remain high priorities Organization of American States,
annually for the next three years. The for the organization. With more than the Council of Europe, and the
$555 million generated by the grant African Union.
100 years of experience in providing
and match will be a vital catalyst to service to communities worldwide,
help achieve Rotary’s top goal of ending Rotary stands ready to respond to the
polio worldwide. needs of an ever-changing world.
Several key meetings bring Rotarians
together to share ideas, celebrate suc-
cesses, enjoy fellowship, and plan for
RI Convention The RI Convention, the
largest Rotary meeting, is held in May
or June in a different part of the Rotary
world each year. This lively, four-day
event features speeches by world and
Rotary leaders, spectacular entertain-
“The RI Convention put the
Rotary in this Rotarian.”
— Eric Marcus, USA
“Rotary has taught me how an ordinary citizen from
a small town can be a world citizen.”
— Raj Ghuman, India
“Thanks to Rotary, my efforts to make the world a
better place are multiplied. I’m no longer alone.”
— Fernando Aguirre Palacios, Ecuador
Find out more about Rotary and its service work at www.rotary.org. You
can read the latest news, order publications, register for the international
convention, contribute to The Rotary Foundation, and conduct other
Rotary Basics continues online at www.rotary.org/rotarybasics. See
videos, listen to audio presentations, and learn even more about what it
means to be a Rotarian.