ABOUT RI

The heart of Rotary is our members, dedicated people
who share a passion for community service and friendship.

Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who come together to make positive, lasting change in communities at home and abroad. Rotary members, share ideas, make plans, hear from the community, and catch up with friends during club programs that fuel the impact we make.

Solving real problems take real commitment and vision. For more than 110 years, Rotary members have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, we are always working to better our world, and we stay committed to the end.

While Rotary clubs are grounded in the same values, no two are the same, because each community has its own unique needs. At club meetings in communities across the globe, our members come together to strengthen their connections to friends and neighbors and their commitment to improving lives.

Our motto: “Service Above Self”

For more than 110 years, our guiding principles have been the foundation of our values: service, fellowship, diversity, integrity, and leadership.

WE WORK DIFFERENTLY

We see differently: Our multidisciplinary perspective helps us see challenges in unique ways.

We think differently: We apply leadership and expertise to social issues — and find unique solutions.

We act responsibly: Our passion and perseverance create lasting change.
We make a difference at home and around the world: Our members can be found in your community and across the globe.

Rotary members believe that we have a shared responsibility to take action on our world’s most persistent issues. We work together to:

  • Promote peace
  • Fight disease
  • Provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Save mothers and children
  • Support education
  • Grow local economies

WE ARE COMMUNITY-BUILDERS

We collaborate with community leaders who want to get to work on projects that have a real, lasting impact on people’s lives.

WE ARE PEOPLE OF ACTION

We connect passionate people with diverse perspectives to exchange ideas, forge lifelong friendships, and, above all, take action to change the world.

WE ARE PROBLEM-SOLVERS

Together, we apply our professional experience and personal commitment to tackle our communities’ most persistent problems, finding new, effective ways to enhance health, stability, and prosperity across the globe.

WE ARE OPPORTUNITY-CREATORS

Rotary members look for opportunities to improve our communities today and invest in the next generation for tomorrow.

GET INVOLVED

Your time, energy, and a passion to improve your world are all you need to get involved with Rotary.

Become a Rotary member or explore the many opportunities we have for anyone — whatever your age or interest — who wants to improve lives in communities near and far. Connect with a local Rotary club to find out how you can get involved.
Turn your passion for change into action through Rotary. Rotary members dream big and do whatever it takes to find solutions.

Whether it’s as a member, partner, or supporter, you can be a part of the solution.

Paul Harris 
Rotary founder

Rotary started with the vision of one man — Paul Harris. The Chicago attorney formed the Rotary Club of Chicago on 23 February 1905, so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.

“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world, it will be known by the results it achieves.“

“I participate in the Paul Harris Society because I care. These contributions demonstrate our commitment to serve others.”

Elaine Love
Paul Harris Society Coordinator for District 5450 (Colorado, USA)

ROTARY INTERNATIONAL HISTORY

For more than 110 years, Rotary members have been addressing challenges around the world.

Grassroots at the core, Rotary links 1.2 million members to form an organization of international scope. It started with the vision of one man — Paul Harris. The Chicago attorney formed the Rotary Club of Chicago on 23 February 1905, so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.
The rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of its members.

OUR ONGOING COMMITMENT

Rotary members have not only been present for major events in history — we’ve also been a part of them. Three key traits have remained strong throughout our history:

We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today, members in nearly every country work to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.

We persevere in tough times. During World War II, Rotary clubs in Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally, and after the war, Rotary members came together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.

We’re committed to service, and we’re not afraid to dream big and set bold goals. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. Today, polio remains endemic in only three countries — down from 125 in 1988.

$26.50

The amount of the first donation to The Rotary Foundation in 1917

$500

The Rotary Foundation’s first gift, made to the International Society for Crippled Children in 1930

OUR STRUCTURE

Rotary is made up of three parts: Together, we work to make lasting change in our communities and around the world.

  • Our clubs
  • Rotary International
  • The Rotary Foundation.

Guiding principles

These principles have been developed over the years to provide Rotarians with a strong, common purpose and direction. They serve as a foundation for our relationships with each other and the action we take in the world.

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.

4 WAY TEST OF ROTARY

The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings:

Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

AVENUES OF SERVICE

We channel our commitment to service at home and abroad through five Avenues of Service, which are the foundation of club activity.

  • Club Service focuses on making clubs strong. A thriving club is anchored by strong relationships and an active membership development plan.
  • Vocational Service calls on every Rotarian to work with integrity and contribute their expertise to the problems and needs of society. Learn more in An Introduction to Vocational Service and the Code of Conduct.
  • Community Service encourages every Rotarian to find ways to improve the quality of life for people in their communities and to serve the public interest. Learn more in Communities in Action: A Guide to Effective Projects.
  • International Service exemplifies our global reach in promoting peace and understanding. We support this service avenue by sponsoring or volunteering on international projects, seeking partners abroad, and more.
  • Youth Service recognizes the importance of empowering youth and young professionals through leadership development programs such as Rotaract, Interact, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and Rotary Youth Exchange.