information below is taken from a RI publication entitled
Rotary International, the world's oldest service club
organization, comprises some 30,000 clubs in more than 165
members form a global network of business and professional
leaders who volunteer their time and talents to serve
their communities and the world. Rotary's motto, Service
Above Self, exemplifies the humanitarian spirit of the
organization's more than 1.2 million members. Strong
fellowship among Rotarians and meaningful community and
international service projects characterize Rotary
Rotary enjoys a rich and
sometimes complex tradition and organizational structure,
with many programs and customs that can be confusing to
new and even no-so-new members. The following information
offers a basic Rotary education that will make every
member better informed about Rotary and proud to be a
Organization of Rotary
Rotarians are members of
Rotary clubs, which belong to the global association fo
Rotary International (RI). Each club elects its own
officers and enjoys considerable autonomy within the
framework of Rotary's constitution and bylaws.
Clubs are grouped into 529
Rotary districts, each led by a district governor, who is
an officer of RI. The district administration, including
assistant governors and various committees, guides and
supports the clubs. The 19 member RI Board of Director,
which includes the RI president and president-elect, meets
quarterly to establish policies. Traditionally, the RI
president, who is elected annually, develops a theme and
emphasis for the year.
While the RI president is the
organization's chief executive, the active managing
officer is the RI general secretary, who heads a staff of
about 600 people at the World Headquarters in the Chicago
suburb of Evanston, Illinois, USA, and in the seven
international offices in Argentina, Australia, Brazil,
India, Japan, Korea and Switzerland. The RI in Great
Britian and Ireland (RIBI) office, in England, serves and
districts in that region.
Responsibilities of Membership
What Rotarians get out of
Rotary depends largely on what they put into it. Many
membership requirements are designed to help members more
fully enjoy their Rotary experience.
The club is the cornerstone of
Rotary, where the most meaningful work is carried out.
Effective Rotary clubs all exhibit four key
characteristics: they strive to sustain or increase their
membership base, participate in service projects that
benefit their own community and those in other countries,
support The Rotary Foundation financially and through
program participation, and develop leaders capable of
serving Rotary beyond the club level.
Attending weekly club meetings
allows members to enjoy their club's fellowship and enrich
their professional and personal knowledge. If members miss
their own club's meeting, they are encouraged to expand
their Rotary horizons by attending make-up meetings at any
Rotary club in the world - a practice that guarantees
Rotarians a warm welcome in communities around the globe.
For meeting places and times, consult the Official
Directory or the Club Locator section on
RI's web site (www.rotary.org).
Regular attendance helps
members fulfill another important responsibility -
participating in club service projects. Members learn
about their club's involvement in local and international
projects and can volunteer their time and talents where
they are most needed.
To keep clubs strong, every
Rotarian must share the responsibility of bringing new
people into Rotary. Even new members can bring guests to
meetings or invite them to participate in a service
project. The value of Rotary speaks for itself, and the
best way to spark the interest of potential members is by
letting them experience fellowship and service firsthand.
Keeping members interested in
Rotary is another responsibility. Good club fellowship and
early involvement in service projects are two of the best
ways to sustain the club's membership.
Rotary's Guiding Principles
Throughout Rotary's history,
several basic principles have been developed to guide
Rotarians in achieving the ideal of service and high
The Object of Rotary was first formulated in 1910 and
adapted throughout the years as Rotary's mission expanded.
It provides a succinct definition of the organization's
purpose as well as the individual club member's
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
application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's
personal, business, and community life;
Fourth. The advancement of
international understanding and goodwill, and peace
through a world fellowship of business and professional
persons united in the ideal of service.
The classification principle
ensures that each club's membership profiles the business
and professional composition of its community. Under this
system each member's classification is based on his or her
business or profession; the number of members holding that
classification is limited according to the size of the
club. The result is professional diversity, which enlivens
the social atmosphere of the club and provides a rich
resource of occupational expertise to carry out service
Avenues of Service, based on the Object of Rotary, are
Rotary's philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on
which club activity is based:
- Club Service focuses on
strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective
functioning of the club.
- Vocational Service
encourages Rotarians to serve others through their
vocations and to practice high ethical standards.
- Community Service covers
the projects and activities the club undertakes to
improve life in its community.
- International Service
encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary's
humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world
understanding and peace.
The Four-Way Test, followed
by Rotarians worldwide in their business and professional
life, was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932.
It has since been translated into more than 100 languages.
The four-way trust of the
tings we think, say or do
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all
- Will it build GOODWILL
and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL
to all concerned?
The following programs and
service opportunities are designed to help Rotarians
meet needs in their own communities and reach out to
assist people in need worldwide:
Interact - Rotary clubs
organize and sponsor this service organization for
youth ages 14 to 18; almost 9,000 clubs in 113
Rotaract - Rotary clubs
organize and sponsor this leadership, professional
development, and service organization for young adults
ages 18 to 30; more than 7,500 clubs in 155 countries.
Rotary Community Corps (RCC)
- Rotary clubs organize and sponsor these groups of
non-Rotarians who work to improve their communities;
more than 5,100 RCCs in 72 countries.
Rotary Fellowship -
International recreational, vocational and
health-related groups open to all Rotarians and
spouses sharing common interests; approximately 75
Rotary Friendship Exchange
- Rotarians and their families make reciprocal visits
to other counties, staying in each other's homes and
learning about the culture firsthand.
Rotary Volunteers - While
every Rotarian is a volunteer, many also offer their
special skills and experience to a project abroad for
short periods every year.
Rotary Youth Exchange -
Clubs and districts sponsor and host students ages 15
to 19 who travel abroad for an academic year or an
extended holiday; about 7,000 a year.
Rotary Youth Leadership
Awards (RYLA) - Clubs and districts sponsor seminars
to encourage and recognize leadership abilities of
youth and young adults ages 14 to 30.
World Community Service
(WCS) - Rotary clubs and districts from two different
countries form partnerships to implement community
service projects; many such projects receive funding
from The Rotary Foundation Humanitarian Grants
Menu of Service
RI recommends that clubs
planning service activities consider nine major needs
or concerns: Children at Risk, Disabled Persons,
Health Care, International Understanding and Goodwill,
Literacy and Numeracy, Population Issues, Poverty and
Hunger, Preserve Planet Earth, and Urban Concerns.
The Rotary Foundation
The Rotary Foundation of
RI is a not-for-profit corporation that receives
contributions totaling more than US$75 million
annually and spends more than $95 million each year in
support of humanitarian and educational programs
implemented by clubs and districts. Contributions from
Rotarians go to the Foundation's Annual Program Fund,
an endowment from which only the earnings are spent in
support of Foundation programs, ensuring the long-term
viability of the Foundation.
Every dollar contributed
contributed by Rotarians fund the humanitarian and
educational programs and program operations. Clubs and
districts apply for and receive Foundation grants to carry out many
worthy projects worldwide.
The Rotary Foundation's
mission is to support the efforts of Rotary
International in the fulfillment of the Object of
Rotary, Rotary's mission, and the achievement of world
understanding and peace through local, national, and
international humanitarian, educational, and cultural
Humanitarian grants enable
Rotarians to increase their support of international
service projects that provide water wells, basic
shelters, medical care, literacy classes, and other
essentials to people in need. Rotarian participation
is key to the success of these people.
District Simplified Grants
enable districts to use a portion of their District
Designated Fund (DDF) to support service activities or
humanitarian endeavors that benefit local or
Individual Grants support
the travel of Rotarians, Rotarian spouses, Rotaractors,
and qualified Foundation alumni who are planning or
implementing humanitarian service projects abroad.
Matching Grants assist
Rotary Clubs and districts in carrying out World
Community Service projects with clubs in other
Immunization Grants provide only U.S. Rotary clubs and
districts up to $1,000 in matching funds to provide
immunizations in their communities.
Educational programs are
designed to promote international understanding by
bringing together people from different countries and
Ambassadorial Scholarships are awarded to students to
serve as ambassadors of goodwill while studying in
countries other than their own.
Rotary World Peace Scholarships are awarded to
individuals for study in master's degree programs at
the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace
and conflict resolution.
Group Study Exchange is a cultural and vocational
exchange program between districts in different
countries for business and professional men and women
ages 25 to 40.
Rotary Grants for University Teachers are awarded to
higher education faculty to teach abroad in an
academic field of practical use to people in a
The final drive to a polio-free world
The PolioPlus program provides funding for vaccine and
transportation for mass immunization campaigns as well
as support for social mobilization, surveillance, and
laboratories to help carry out the final stages of
global polio eradication.
Goal: To eradicate polio worldwide by 2005, Rotary's
Major partners in the Global Polio Eradication
Initiative: Rotary International, UNICEF, World Health
Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
- Rotarians raised US$247 million between 1985 and
1988 for polio eradication. By 2005, Rotary's
contributions to global polio eradication will exceed
- Polio cases have declined more than 99 percent from
350,000 cases in 1985 to fewer than 2,000 in 2002.
- Polio has been eradicated in the Western Hemisphere
(1994), the Western Pacific Region (2000), and Europe
- Almost two billion children have been immunized
against polio since 1985.
- Hundreds of thousands of Rotarians have mobilized to
help immunize children, deliver vaccine, promote
National Immunization Days, and conduct surveillance for
the disease - despite poor infrastructure, extreme
poverty, and conflict in many countries.
Benefits of eradication: After polio immunization has
ceased, the savings are potentially as high as $1.5
billion per year - funds that could be used to address
other public health priorities.
Recent efforts: A one-year campaign - Fulfilling Our
Promise: Eradicate Polio - was launched on 1 July 2002
with the goal of raising $80 million to complete the
job of eradicating polio.
Taking Pride in Your Rotary Membership
Rotarians dedicate their time and talents not just to
polio eradication but to hundreds of worthy causes
both locally and internationally. Here are just a few
of the humanitarian and peacemaking activities for
which Rotarians are known worldwide.
Rotary Life Changing Medical Missions
Rotarian Physicians in several European countries have
formed doctor banks, which send their members to
remote locations in Africa for two or more months at a
time. Every year, more than 400 doctors reach some
10,000 patients who have no access to hospitals and
would otherwise receive no medical care.
Rotoplast is a volunteer medical project involving 230
U.S. Rotary clubs and nearly 1,000 medical team
volunteers. One of several such Rotary-sponsored
programs, Rotoplast mission have provided thousands of
children in needy communities around the world with
reconstructive surgery to correct cleft palates and
other facial deformities.
Through the Gift of Life program initiated by
Rotary clubs and districts, desperately ill children
are brought to the United States to receive lifesaving
The World's Largest, Most International Private
The Rotary Foundation's Ambassadorial Scholarship
program sends 1,100 scholars to study abroad every
year, preparing many of them for careers in diplomacy,
government, and international relations.
Since 1947, more than 30,000 men and women from 100
nations have been Rotary scholars. Among the many who
have achieved distinction in their fields are U.S.
journalist Bill Moyers, German Architect Helmut Jahn,
and Sadako Ogata, Japan's special adviser on
Afghanistan and former UN High Commissioner for
The Gift of Literacy
More than half of all 30,000 Rotary clubs have joined
the fight against illiteracy, which plagues one
billion people worldwide, by running book drives,
tutoring children, or repairing dilapidated schools.
The Lighthouses for Literacy project has been highly
effective in elementary schools, adult literacy
classes, and programs designed for street children.
This innovative teaching method has produced
remarkable results in Brazil, Egypt, South Africa,
Thailand and other countries.
The Goal of Sustainable Development
Rotarians ensure lasting development by providing
small loans in cash or in kind to poor entrepreneurs
and by supporting integrated community development
In Uganda, a Rotary-assisted micro-credit project
supplies dairy cows to members of a women's
cooperative; the co-op then donates the first calves
born to their animals to other women. In Ecuador, a
Rotary-supported revolving loan fund enabled women to
start a thriving catering service. In the Philippines,
small loans help villagers start tailoring, pedicab,
and other businesses.
Working With Youth
Since Rotary's earliest days, Rotarians have taken a
special interest in developing the potential of young
people, acting as tutors and mentors, taking
pro-active measures to help at-risk children, and
sponsoring such youth-related programs as Interact,
Rotaract, RYLA, and Youth Exchange.
District, Regional and International Meetings
Several Key meetings bring Rotarians together to share
ideas, celebrate success, enjoy fellowship, and plan
for the future. The largest of these meetings, the RI
Convention, is held in May or June in a different part
of the Rotary world each year. This lively four-day
meeting features speeches by world and Rotary leaders,
spectacular entertainment reflecting the local
culture, and unparalleled opportunities to experience
the tru breadth of Rotary's international fellowship.
Presidential conferences are held in different parts
of the world each year to address issues determined by
the RI president, generally focusing on the region in
which the conference is held. These conferences
provide the backdrop for spirited discussion and
opportunities to form international service
Rotarians are encouraged to attend their district
conference, an annual motivational meeting that
showcases club and district activities. A family
event, the district conference mixes fellowship with
learning and allows Rotarians Rotarians to become more
directly involved with charting their district's
The Changing Face of Rotary
The genius of Rotary has been its ability to respond
to the needs of the day, from child welfare to refugee
relief to rural development.
At both the local and international levels, a
cornucopia of creative Rotary programs has emerged,
from initiatives that help at-risk youths to
humanitarian grants designed to diminish poverty.
Changes have also occurred within Rotary. In the
1980s, female business and professional leaders began
to join the organization's ranks. Rotary has become
increasingly international, with two-thirds of today's
Rotarians living outside the United States and members
representing a multitude of cultures. Rotary clubs are
changing their meeting times and places to make
membership more convenient and relevant to today's
demanding and professional schedules.
Technology is also transforming the way and speed with
which Rotarians communicate with one another, promote
their activities, and engage in Rotary business online
as well as order publications, register for meetings,
and learn about Rotary history, programs, and events.
For the latest Rotary information, visit
Some far-reaching changes are in the experimental
stage. A three-year pilot project currently underway
allowed RI to charter up to 200 Rotary clubs that
deviate from the Standard Rotary Club Constitution.
The pilot clubs have altered their meeting frequency,
relaxed attendance rules, and offered new types of
membership, including corporate and family memberships
in an effort to attract and retain members.
One new model is even a cyberclub. If such pilot clubs
prove successful, the Council on Legislation could
adopt policies making these innovations permanent.