What Is Rotary?
Rotary is a global network of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. It is a non-political and non-sectarian organization open to all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference.
- World’s first service club, formed in 1905 by Paul Harris, an attorney in Chicago
- Became international in 1910, when a club was formed in Winnipeg, Manitoba
- By 1921, Rotary clubs formed on six continents
- Principal motto: Service Above Self
- Code of ethics: The 4-Way Test
- In May 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Rotary may not exclude women from membership
- Today, 1.2 million Rotarians, 530 districts, and over 34,000 clubs in more than 200 countries
The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and 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.
Five Avenues of Service (based on the Object of Rotary)
- Club Service – focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club
- Socials, concerts, sporting clays, crawfish party
- Vocational Service – encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practice high ethical standards
- Literacy projects, Boys/Girls State, West Boulevard School partnership
- Community Service – covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community
- Meals on Wheels, bell ringing, dictionary project, Adopt-a-Spot, Food Bank
- International Service – encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary’s humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace
- PolioPlus, Guatemala Milk Project, PET Project, water/health/hunger projects
- New Generations Service – recognizes the positive change implemented by youth and young adults through leadership development activities, service projects, and exchange programs
- Rotary Youth Exchange, Interact, Rotaract
In 1932, Rotarian Herbert J Taylor created the 4 way test, a code of ethics adopted by Rotary 11 years later. This test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions:
Of the things we think, say or do
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
- An endowment fund was set up by RI President Arch Klumph in 1917 “for the purpose of doing good in the world” (first donation was $26.50).
- In 1928 the fund reached $5,000 and was renamed the Rotary Foundation.
- In 1930 made its first grant of $500 to an organization that worked with children with physical disabilities (created by Rotarian Edgar “Daddy” Allen, later became Easter Seals).
- In 1947 contributions began pouring in following the death of RI founder, Paul Harris. Since then, Rotarians have contributed over $1 billion to the Rotary Foundation.
- Paul Harris Fellows: given $1,000 or have had that amount donated in their name
- The Paul Harris Society: annually contribute $1,000 or more to the Foundation.
- Grants and programs support Rotary’s worldwide humanitarian missions, including its number one goal of eradicating polio.
- PolioPlus: since its inception in 1985, more than two billion children have received the oral polio vaccine.
- Rotary raised over $200 million to match the Gates Foundation $355 million by June 30th, 2012.
- Since 2013, the Gates Foundation will match 2 for 1 every new dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication, up to $35 million per year through 2018.
- Humanitarian grants program: disaster recovery, district simplified grants, and matching grants.
- Educational programs: Ambassadorial Scholarships, GSE (Group Study Exchange), Rotary Peace Fellowships.