What is Rotary

Rotary is a service organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

The main objective of Rotary is Service. The Rotary motto, “Service Above Self,” guides individual clubs as they work to feed the hungry, fight disease, assist the handicapped and people in need, fight illiteracy and fund scholarships and youth programs in their communities and worldwide.

All Rotarians worldwide are united in a campaign for the global eradication of polio. Through this program called
Polio Plus, Rotary has provided an army of volunteers to assist in the immunization of the populations of polio-endemic countries around the world. Rotary has risen over ½ a billion dollars to fund this program. Rotary’s 2005 target date for the certification of a polio-free world coincides with the celebration of their 100th anniversary.

One cannot talk about Rotary without mentioning fellowship. Rotary provides an opportunity to build lifelong friendships and experience the personal fulfillment of providing volunteer service to others.

History of Rotary

A young lawyer, Paul P. Harris, founded the world’s first Rotary Club in Chicago, Illinois on February 23, 1905. What he had in mind was a club that would provide fellowship among members of the business community. Four people attended the first meeting.

As the Rotary club grew, they rotated their meeting among the members place of business, hence the name Rotary was created from this practice of rotating the locations of the meetings.

In 1908 the second Rotary Club was formed in San Francisco. Others followed in Seattle, Washington, Los Angeles and New York City. In 1910, Rotary became an International club with the addition of a club formed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. By 1921 Rotary had become a worldwide club and a year later changed its name to Rotary International.

Today there are approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belonging to more than 31,000 Rotary Clubs in located in 166 countries.


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:  Advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

The 4-Way Test

Rotarians proudly follow a simple code of ethics in their business and professional lives:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?  

Avenues of Service

Being a service organization, Rotary has divided service into five unique channels or avenues. They are:

Club Service includes the scope of activities Rotarians undertake in support of their club such as attending meetings, and serving on committees or other leadership roles.

Vocational Service focuses on promoting vocational awareness and high ethical standards in business.

Community Service encompasses all activities Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community.

International Service fosters the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace. Rotary clubs across the globe join in the support of a concerted humanitarian effort worldwide.

New Generations recognizes the positive change implemented by youth and young adults involved in leadership development activities, community and international service projects, and exchange programs that enrich and foster world peace and cultural understanding.

The Rotary Foundation

In 1917, the President of Rotary International, Arch Klumph, from Cleveland, Ohio, suggested the establishment of a Foundation for the purpose of "Doing good in the world." Following the death of our founder, Paul P. Harris in 1947, The Rotary Foundation has grown to become one of the largest and most international foundations in the world.

Since its inception, the Rotary Foundation has funded more than 1.5 billion dollars in Humanitarian Grants in 165 countries, improving the quality of life for millions.

The Rotary Foundations funds some 1,200 Ambassadorial scholars each year allowing students to study abroad, and to advance international understanding and goodwill.

Other Rotary Foundation Programs include Group Study Exchange teams visiting other countries for 4-6 weeks and Grants for University Teachers.

Partnered with The Center for Disease Control, The World Health Organization, and UNICEF, Rotary International’s Polio Plus Mission for the Worldwide Eradication of Polio will soon be completed.


History of Rotary
Object of Rotary
The 4-Way Test
Avenues of Service
The Rotary Foundation


Polio Plus

Fellowships Logo

Paul Harris

100 Year Anniversary Rotary Logo


Paul Harris Emblem

Rotary Volunteer Logo


Rotary Club Service Logo


Rotary Vocational Service Logo

Rotary Community Service Logo

Rotary International Service Logo

Rotary Youth Exchange Logo

Rotary Polio Plus Logo