What is Rotary?
Worldwide Humanitarian Service Organization
Rotary is a worldwide volunteer organization of more than 1.2 million service minded business, professional, and community leaders united to provide humanitarian service and help build goodwill and peace.
About 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas conduct projects to address today’s challenges - including illiteracy, disease, hunger, poverty, lack of clean water, and environmental concerns - while encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. As signified by the motto Service Above Self, Rotary’s main objective is service - in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world.
As the world’s largest private provider of international scholarships, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International helps more than 1,000 students annually to study abroad and serve as cultural ambassadors. Rotary also partners with seven prestigious universities around the world, providing opportunities to earn a master’s degree in peace and conflict resolution.
PolioPlus is Rotary’s flagship program. By the time polio is eradicated, Rotary club members will have contributed US$850 million and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries. Rotary is a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, along with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rotary - The World’s First Service club
The first Rotary Club was founded in Chicago, Illinois in February 23, 1905 by lawyer, Paul Harris, and three of his friends. The name "Rotary" derived from the early practice of rotating weekly meetings among members' offices. Weekly meetings were “rotated” among the founders. Paul P. Harris was born in Racine, Wisconsin on April 19, 1868. When he passed away in January, 1947, he was president emeritus of Rotary International.
What is 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.
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
From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world's most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy. This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives 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. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four 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?
Declaration Of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions>
As a Rotarian engaged in a business or profession, I am expected to:
- consider my vocation to be another opportunity to serve;
- be faithful to the letter and to the spirit of the ethical codes of my vocation, to the laws of my country, and to the moral standards of my community;
- do all in my power to dignify my vocation and to promote the highest ethical standards in my chosen vocation;
- be fair to my employer, employees, associates, competitors, customers, the public, and all those with whom I have a business or professional relationship;
- recognize the honor and respect due to all occupations which are useful to society;
- offer my vocational talents: to provide opportunities for young people, to work for the relief of the special needs of others, and to improve the quality of life in my community;
- adhere to honesty in my advertising and in all representations to the public concerning my business or profession;
- neither seek from nor grant to a fellow Rotarian a privilege or advantage not normally accorded others in a business or professional relationship.