“Overview”

Rotary International, the world’s first service organization, is made up of over 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Its members form a global network of business, professional and community 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 worldwide.

Rotary enjoys a rich and sometimes complex tradition and organizational structure, with many programs that can be confusing to new and even not-so-new members. This website offers a basic Rotary education — the fundamental knowledge that will make every member better informed about Rotary and proud to be a Rotarian.

Guiding Principles of Rotary

The 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.

Avenues of Service

Based on the Object of Rotary, the Avenues of Service 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.
  • New Generations Service recognizes the positive change implemented by youth and young adults through leadership development activities, service projects, and exchange programs.

The Four-Way Test

The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions: 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?

Mission

The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

Diversity and Rotary

Rotary International recognizes the value of diversity within individual clubs. Rotary encourages clubs to assess those in their communities who are eligible for membership, under existing membership guidelines, and to endeavor to include the appropriate range of individuals in their clubs. A club that reflects its community with regard to professional and business classification, gender, age, religion, and ethnicity is a club with the key to its future.

The Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation of RI is a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

Financial Support

Every dollar contributed to the Foundation funds its humanitarian, educational, and cultural programs and program operations. Clubs and districts apply for and receive Foundation grants to carry out many worthy projects worldwide. The Every Rotarian, Every Year initiative, designed to encourage worldwide annual per capita giving of $100 or more, supports vital Foundation programs.

Educational Programs

These programs promote international understanding by bringing together people from different countries and cultures.

  • Ambassadorial Scholarships , an international program for university-level studies, sends about 500 students each year to serve as ambassadors of goodwill while abroad.
  • Rotary World Peace Fellowships are awarded to individuals for study in master's degree and professional certificate programs at one of the six Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution.
  • Group Study Exchange is a short-term cultural and vocational exchange program between districts in different countries for non-Rotarian professionals ages 25-40.

Humanitarian Grants Program

Humanitarian grants enable Rotarians to increase their support of international service projects that provide water wells, medical care, literacy classes, and other essentials to people in need. Rotarian participation is key to the success of these projects.

  • Matching Grants assist Rotary clubs and districts in carrying out humanitarian projects with clubs and districts in other countries.
  • District Simplified Grants enable districts to support service activities or humanitarian endeavors that benefit local or international communities.

PolioPlus

Eradicating polio is Rotary’s top priority. The PolioPlus program provides funding 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. Rotarians have raised funds that will amount to more than $1.2 billion in support by the time the world is certified polio-free and have provided hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours. Rotary is a spearheading partner with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in this initiative. As a result of their efforts, over two billion children under age five have received the polio vaccine, five million people who might otherwise be paralyzed are walking today, 500,000 new cases of polio are prevented each year, and the number of polio cases has declined by 99 percent worldwide.

Organization of Rotary

Rotary is essentially a grassroots organization, with most of its service efforts being carried out at the club level. The district and international structure is designed to support the clubs and help them provide more service in their local communities and abroad.

Clubs

Rotarians are members of Rotary clubs , which belong to the global association Rotary International (RI). Each club elects its own officers and enjoys considerable autonomy within the framework of Rotary’s constitution and bylaws.

Districts

Clubs are grouped into 530 RI 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.

RI Board

The 19-member RI Board of Directors , 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 service emphases for the year.

The Secretariat

Rotary international is headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, USA, with seven international offices in Argentina , Australia , Brazil, India , Japan , Korea , and Switzerland . The office for RI in Great Britain and Ireland ( RIBI ), located in England, serves clubs and districts in that region. The Secretariat’s chief operating officer is the RI general secretary, who heads a 740-member staff working to serve Rotarians worldwide.