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People of Action

Rotary is where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and take action to create lasting change.

What is Rotary

Rotary Foundation


The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International was created in 1917 for the purpose of "doing good in the world." It supports Rotary's efforts to further world understanding and peace. Through the Foundation, Rotarians sponsor international educational and humanitarian programs, where some US$90 million is invested annually. 

PolioPlus is Rotary's commitment to eradicating polio. Through the efforts of Rotary and its partners in the fight against polio, more than one billion children worldwide have been immunised since 1985. By 2005, Rotary's financial commitment will reach a half billion US dollars. Of equal significance is the huge volunteer army mobilised by Rotary International for social mobilisation, vaccine transport and immunisation activities. 

Rotary's international network helps link people in need with Rotarians in other countries who can provide resources. The Foundation's humanitarian programs improve health care systems, support sustainable sources of food and water, and provide literacy and vocational training — particularly in developing countries. 

The Rotary Foundation's educational programs include Ambassadorial Scholarships, the world's largest privately funded source of international scholarships. More than 1,300 scholarships are awarded annually for study in another land. Grants are also awarded for university teachers to serve in developing countries and for international exchanges of professionals. 



clubs across the world and across 200 countries


districs across the world


members across the world


approx. members across Great Britain and Ireland


clubs across Great Britain and Ireland



The world's first service club was the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA. The club was formed 23 February 1905 by lawyer Paul P. Harris and three friends — a merchant, a coal dealer, and a mining engineer. Harris wished to recapture the friendly spirit he had felt in the small town where he had grown up. The name "Rotary" was derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices. 

The first Rotary club was formed to promote fellowship among its members. Word of the club soon spread and other businessmen were invited to join. By the end of 1905, the Rotary Club of Chicago had 30 members. Three years later, a second club was formed inSan Francisco, California, USA. 

As Rotary grew, its focus shifted to service and civic obligations. Early service projects included building public "comfort stations" near Chicago's City Hall and delivering food to needy families. In 1913, the 50 Rotary clubs then in existence contributed US$25,000 for flood relief in two US Midwestern states. 

By the end of its first decade, Rotary had grown so large (nearly 200 clubs and more than 20,000 members) that a district structure was required. During Rotary's second decade, clubs were launched in South and Central America, India, Cuba, Europe, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. 

During World War I, Rotary discovered new areas of service — at home in war relief and peace-fund drives as well as in active service and overseas in emergency efforts. After World War II, many clubs disbanded during the war were re-established, initiating a new era of service. Clubs in Switzerland and elsewhere organised relief efforts for refugees and prisoners of war. Forty-nine Rotarians participated in the 1945 United Nations Charter Conference in San Francisco. 

The Rotary Foundation was established in 1917 as an endowment fund and became The Rotary Foundation in 1928. When Paul Harris died in 1947, Rotarians donated generously to the Foundation as a memorial. 

The Rotary Foundation's first program was Graduate Fellowships (now called Ambassadorial Scholarships), which sent 18 students abroad to seven countries in 1947

To Become a Rotarian

  • Do you believe that helping others is more important than your own self-interest? 

  • Do you enjoy informal networking with like-minded business and professional people? 

  • Do you want to help those less fortunate than yourself at home and abroad?  


If so, the world's leading service organisation, Rotary International has a welcome for you. Rotarians are united in providing humanitarian service, encouraging high ethical standards at work and helping to build goodwill for world peace.  


This means that each individual Rotary club is active at international, national and local levels. But Rotary clubs are best known for work in their home community through support for the needy of all ages including those who are handicapped or infirm.  


 Help is given directly and also through many charities and Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland is one of the largest charity fundraisers. That is only one aspect of Rotarians' work. 


Your experience and expertise will be valued by your local Rotary club and, when you become an active Rotarian, you will appreciate what 'service above self can mean.

Rotary is short for Rotary International - a worldwide association of local clubs for men and women in business or the professions who provide humanitarian service to the community at local, national and international level encourage high ethical standards in all vocations work for goodwill and peace in the world. 

Each club operates independently within a common constitution. Membership is drawn from the business and professional community. To ensure the club represents the community there are limitations on membership from each profession or type of business. But Clubs are always pleased to hear from those interested in joining them.   

Clubs meet weekly for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Business often includes a talk on a subject of general interest by an outside speaker. 

Every Rotarian has the right to attend the meeting of any other club and Rotarians may invite non-Rotarian guests to their own club meetings.  

Weekly meetings promote acquaintance and fellowship. Through this fellowship Rotarians find the inspiration to serve the community.  

Service to the community requires Rotarians to devote their time, energy and professional skills to particular projects. Although funds are often raised for charity this is not a Rotary club's first aim. The emphasis is on service by each individual Rotarian.    

Community service is the traditional and well-known face of Rotary. It covers help and advice to the aged, the handicapped, the infirm, young people and all those in need, either directly or through local charitable organisations. Environmental projects are part of community service. 

As jobs are key elements in determining Rotary membership, vocational service draws on the ethical standards, experience and expertise that Rotarians apply in their work.  

Vocational projects support training and job development, provide mock interviews, encourage the development of skills in employment and foster the highest standards in business and the professions.  

International service promotes worldwide goodwill. It includes emergency boxes, eye camps, vocational training schools, text books, tools, water filtration units and many other items for areas of need. Rotarians of different race, creed and custom, when brought together in fellowship, play an important part in breaking down prejudice and developing true international understanding. Many Rotarians volunteer their free time to projects in third world countries to bridge the gap of world understanding.  

The Object of the 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:


The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;


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;


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


The advancement of International understanding, goodwill, and peace through aworld fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service. 

The Four Way Test

"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?" 

One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is the Rotary Four-Way Test. It was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.

Taylor looked for a way to save the struggling company mired in depression-caused financial difficulties. He drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives.

The Four-Way Test became the guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy.

Herb Taylor became president of Rotary International in 1954-55. The Four-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. 

To become a Rotarian
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