Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 31,000 Rotary clubs located in 166 countries
A Brief History
The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name “Rotary” derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.
Rotary’s popularity spread throughout the United States in the decade that followed; clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents, and the organization adopted the name Rotary International a year later.
As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving the professional and social interests of club members. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. The organization’s dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its principal motto: Service Above Self. Rotary also later embraced a code of ethics, called The 4-Way Test, that has been translated into hundreds of languages.
In 1985, Rotary made a historic commitment to immunize all of the world’s children against polio. Working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations and national governments thorough its PolioPlus program, Rotary is the largest private-sector contributor to the global polio eradication campaign. Rotarians have mobilized hundreds of thousands of PolioPlus volunteers and have immunized more than one billion children worldwide. By the 2005 target date for certification of a polio-free world, Rotary will have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause.
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.
The 4-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 4-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 4-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?”
Benefits of Rotary
Rotary membership provides the opportunity to:
- Become connected to your community.
- Work with others in addressing community needs.
- Interact with other professionals in your community;
- Assist with RI’s international humanitarian service efforts.
- Establish contacts with an international network of professionals.
- Develop leadership skills.
- Involve family in promoting service efforts
Becoming a Rotarian
An association of some 31,000 autonomous clubs in 166 countries, Rotary International is one of the world’s largest service organizations. The goal for a club’s membership is an up-to-date and progressive representation of the community’s business, vocational, and professional interests.
An important distinction between Rotary and other organizations is that membership in Rotary is by invitation. Rotary clubs invite individuals to join and become members.
Membership is vital to a Rotary club’s operations and community service activities. A primary goal of the club is to continually expand the club with committed members who have the interest and ability to get involved in service and humanitarian projects. Prospective members must:
- hold – or be retired from – a professional, proprietary, executive, or managerial position;
- have the capacity to meet the club’s weekly attendance or community project participation requirements;
- live or work within the locality of the club or the surrounding area
An individual who is interested in membership but doesn’t know any Rotarians can contact the local club directly.
Classifications: professional representation
Rotary uses a classification system to establish and maintain a vibrant cross-section or representation of the community’s business, vocational, and professional interests among members and to develop a pool of resources and expertise to successfully implement service projects. This system is based on the founders’ paradigm of choosing cross-representation of each business, profession, and institution within a community.
A classification describes either the principal business or the professional service of the organization that the Rotarian works for or the Rotarian’s own activity within the organization. Some examples of classifications include: high schools, universities, eye surgery, banking, pharmaceutical-retailing, petroleum-distribution, and insurance agency.