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The History of "The ABC's of Rotary " and its Author

Although being an RI (Rotary International) publication, the original author of this publication is Past RI President Cliff Dochterman.

He started writing the articles for his Club's newsletter as being part of Rotary information and this for over 2 years. After receiving many requests, Past RI President Cliff compiled them into a booklet which was then known as "Did Ya Know?". When PRIP Cliff was elected President of Rotary International 1992-1993, he wanted to give some Rotary information to visitors of RI Headquarters.There was no simple publication available then. So, Will White, editor of The Rotarian, said he could put the "Did Ya Know?" articles into a little publication to be given to visitors. About 75 articles were picked,and the booklet became known as the "ABCs of Rotary." The first printing was 1000 copies.

With the permission of the author, the publication has been translated in 19 languages. The booklet has been updated twice since its original publication and copyrighted by Rotary. All the rights has also been given to Rotary. One publication came out with Cliff Dochterman original identification removed as the author. An apology was made and the matter has been corrected on all future copies. The "ABC's of Rotary" is the largest selling booklet that Rotary has. Hundreds of Rotary Clubs use it for new member orientation.


How do you describe the organization called "Rotary"? There are so many characteristics of a Rotary club as well as the activities of a million Rotarians. There are the features of service, internationality, fellowship, classifications of each vocation, development of goodwill and world understanding, the emphasis of high ethical standards, concern for other people and many more descriptive qualities.

In 1976 the Rotary International Board of Directors was interested in creating a concise definition of the fundamental aspects of Rotary. They turned to the three men who were then serving on Rotary's Public Relations Committee and requested that a one-sentence definition of Rotary be prepared. After numerous drafts, the committee presented this definition, which has been used ever since in various Rotary publications:

"Rotary is an organization of business and professional persons united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world."

Those 31 words are worth remembering when someone asks, "What is a Rotary club?"


An official flag was formally adopted by Rotary International at the 1929 Convention in Dallas, Texas. The Rotary flag consists of a white field with the official wheel emblem emblazoned in gold in the center of the field. The four depressed spaces on the rim of the Rotary wheel are colored royal blue. The words "Rotary" and "International" printed at the top and bottom depressions on the wheel rim are also gold. The shaft in the hub and the keyway of the wheel are white.

The first official Rotary flag reportedly was flown in Kansas City, Missouri, in January 1915. In 1922 a small Rotary flag was carried over the South Pole by Admiral Richard Byrd, a member of the Winchester, Virginia, Rotary Club. Four years later, the admiral carried a Rotary flag in his expedition to the North Pole.

Some Rotary clubs use the official Rotary flag as a banner at club meetings. In these instances it is appropriate to print the words "Rotary Club" above the wheel symbol, and the name of the city, state or nation below the emblem.

The Rotary flag is always prominently displayed at the World Headquarters as well as at all conventions and official events of Rotary International.


A wheel has been the symbol of Rotary since our earliest days. The first design was made by Chicago Rotarian Montague Bear, an engraver who drew a simple wagon wheel, with a few lines to show dust and motion. The wheel was said to illustrate "Civilization and Movement." Most of the early clubs had some form of wagon wheel on their publications and letterheads. Finally, in 1922, it was decided that all Rotary clubs should adopt a single design as the exclusive emblem of Rotarians. Thus, in 1923, the present gear wheel, with 24 cogs and six spokes was adopted by the "Rotary International Association." A group of engineers advised that the geared wheel was mechanically unsound and would not work without a "keyway" in the center of the gear to attach it to a power shaft. So, in 1923 the keyway was added and the design which we now know was formally adopted as the official Rotary International emblem.


·        The first Rotary club meeting was in Chicago, Illinois, on February 23, 1905.

·        he first regular luncheon meetings were in Oakland, California, chartered in 1909.

·        The first Rotary convention was in Chicago in 1910.

·        The first Rotary club outside of the United States was chartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1910.

·        The first Rotary club outside of North America was chartered in Dublin, Ireland, in 1911.

·        The first Rotary club in a non-English-speaking country was in Havana, Cuba, in 1916.

·        The first Rotary club in South America was chartered in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1918.

·        The first Rotary club in Asia was chartered in Manila, Philippines, in 1919.

·        The first Rotary club in Africa was chartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1921.

·        The first Rotary club in Australia was chartered in Melbourne in 1921.

(original idea from "Scandal Sheet")


In some areas of the world weekly Rotary club meetings begin with all members standing and reciting the Object of Rotary. This statement, which comes from the Constitution of Rotary, is frequently seen on a wall plaque in Rotarians' offices or place of business.

The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The statement then lists four areas by which this "ideal of service" is fostered: through the development of acquaintance as the opportunity for service; the promotion of high ethical standards in business and professions; through service in one's personal, business and community life; and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace.

The Object of Rotary has not always been expressed in this manner. The original Constitution of 1906 had three objects: promotion of business interests, promotion of good fellowship and the advancement of the best interests of the community. By 1910 Rotary had five Objects as increased emphasis was given to expanding Rotary. By 1915 there were six Objects. In 1918 the Objects were rewritten again and reduced to four. Four years later they had again grown to six and were revised again in 1927.

Finally, at the 1935 Mexico City Convention the six Objects were restated and reduced to four. The last major change came in 1951, when the "Objects" were streamlined and changed to a single "Object" which is manifested in four separate ways. The "ideal of service" is the key phrase in the Object of Rotary. This ideal is an attitude of being a thoughtful and helpful person in all of one's endeavors. That's what the Object truly means.


The first motto of Rotary International, "He Profits Most Who Serves Best," was approved at the second Rotary Convention, held in Portland, Oregon, in August 1911. The phrase was first stated by a Chicago Rotarian, Art Sheldon, who made a speech in 1910 which included the remark, "He profits most who serves his fellows best." At about the same time, Ben Collins, president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Minnesota, commented that the proper way to organize a Rotary club was through the principle his club had adopted-"Service, Not Self." These two slogans, slightly modified, were formally approved to be the official mottoes of Rotary at the 1950 Convention in Detroit-"He Profits Most Who Serves Best" and "Service Above Self." The 1989 Council on Legislation established "Service Above Self" as the principal motto of Rotary, since it best explains the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service.


Regular attendance is essential to a strong and active Rotary club. The emphasis on attendance is traced back to 1922 when Rotary International announced a worldwide attendance contest which motivated thousands of Rotarians to achieve a 100 percent attendance year after year. Many Rotarians take great pride in maintaining their 100 percent record in their own club or by making-up at other Rotary club meetings.

Although the bylaws of Rotary require members to attend only 60 percent of all meetings, the custom has emerged that 100 percent is the desirable level. Rotary stresses regular attendance because each member represents his own business or profession and thus the absence of any member deprives the club of the values of its diversified membership and the personal fellowship of each member.

From time to time, proposals have been made to give attendance credit to Rotarians who are on jury duty, serving in the community, attending a trade convention, on vacation in remote areas, on shipboard or unable to attend because of ill health or other special reasons. None of these exceptions has been adopted. The policy is very clear-a Rotarian is not given attendance credit if he does not attend a meeting.

There are a few circumstances where attendance credit is awarded when a Rotarian participates in an alternate type of Rotary event. If a Rotarian is requested to attend an Interact or Rotaract meeting, attendance credit may be allowed. When a member attends a Rotary district conference, district assembly, international convention, Council on Legislation, a meeting of an international committee, an inter-city meeting and a few other specially designated events, attendance may be credited. A Rotarian actively participating in a district-sponsored service project in a remote area where it is impossible to make-up may also receive attendance credit.


One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is the Rotary "4-Way Test." It was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 when he was asked to take charge of the Chicago-based Club Aluminum Company, which was facing bankruptcy. Taylor looked for a way to save the struggling company mired in depression-caused financial difficulties. He drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives. The 4-Way Test became the guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company was credited to this simple philosophy.

Herb Taylor became president of Rotary International during 1954- 55. The 4-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than 100 languages and published in thousands of ways. The message should be known and followed by all Rotarians. "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?"


Was Paul Harris the first president of a Rotary club? No.

Was Paul Harris the first president of Rotary International? Yes.

There is an easy explanation to this apparent contradiction. Although Paul Harris was the founder and organizer of the first Rotary club in Chicago in 1905, the man selected to be the first president was one of the other founding members, Silvester Schiele.

By the year 1910 there were 16 Rotary clubs, which linked up as an organization called the National Association of Rotary Clubs. A couple of years later the name was changed to International Association of Rotary Clubs as Rotary was organized in Winnipeg, Canada, and then in England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1922 the name was shortened to Rotary International.

When the first organization of Rotary clubs was created in 1910, Paul Harris was selected as the first president. He served in this position for two years, from 1910 until 1912. Thus, the founder of the Rotary idea, who declined to be president of the first club, became the first president of the worldwide organization, Rotary International.


From the earliest days of Rotary, members have referred to each other on a first-name basis. Since personal acquaintanceship and friendship are cornerstones of Rotary, it was natural that many clubs adopted the practice of setting aside formal titles in conversations among members. Individuals who normally would be addressed as Doctor, Professor, Mister, the Honorable or Sir are regularly called Joe, Bill, Charley or Jerry by other Rotarians. The characteristic Rotary club name badge fosters the first-name custom.

In a few areas, such as Europe, club members use a more formal style in addressing fellow members. In other parts of the world, mainly in Asian countries, the practice is to assign each new Rotarian a humorous nickname which relates to some personal characteristic or which is descriptive of the member's business or profession. A member nicknamed "Oxygen" is the manufacturer of chemical gas products. "Trees" is the nickname for the Rotarian in the lumber business, "Building" is the contractor, "Paper" is the stationery or office supply retailer. Other members might carry nicknames like "Muscles," "Foghorn" or "Smiles" as commentaries on their physical features.

The nicknames are frequently a source of good-natured fun and fellowship. But whether a Rotarian is addressed by a given first name or a nickname, the spirit of personal friendship is the initial step which opens doors to all other opportunities for service.


The term "Four Avenues of Service" is frequently used in Rotary literature and information. The "Avenues" refer to the four elements of the Object of Rotary: Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service and International Service.

Although the Avenues of Service are not found in any formal part of the constitutional documents of Rotary, the concept has been accepted as a means to describe the primary areas of Rotary activity.

·        "Club Service" involves all of the activities necessary for Rotarians to perform to make their club function successfully.

·        "Vocational Service" is a description of the opportunity each Rotarian has to represent the dignity and utility of one's vocation to the other members of the club.

·        "Community Service" pertains to those activities which Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community. It frequently involves assistance to youth, the aged, handicapped and others who look to Rotary as a source of hope for a better life.

·        The Fourth Avenue, "International Service," describes the many programs and activities which Rotarians undertake to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace. International Service projects are designed to meet humanitarian needs of people in many lands.

When a Rotarian understands and travels down the "Four Avenues of Service," the Object of Rotary takes on even greater meaning.


The month of April is annually designated as "Rotary's Magazine Month," an occasion to recognize and promote the reading and use of the official RI magazine, The Rotarian, and the regional magazines.

The Rotarian has been around since 1911 as the medium to communicate with Rotarians and to advance the program and Object of Rotary. A primary goal of the magazine is to support the annual theme and philosophy of the RI president and to disseminate information about new and special programs, major meetings and the emphasis of the several official "months" of Rotary.

The Rotarian provides a forum in which both Rotary-related and general interest topics may be explored. The magazine serves as an excellent source of information and ideas for programs at Rotary club meetings and district conferences. Many articles promote international fellowship, goodwill and understanding. Regular readers usually have superior knowledge of the activities of Rotary and how each Rotarian may be more fully involved in the Four Avenues of Service around the world.

In addition to The Rotarian there are 28 regional magazines printed in 22 languages. Although each regional publication has its own unique style and content, they all provide Rotarians with up-to-date information and good reading in April-and all through the year.


As an international organization, Rotary offers each member unique opportunities and responsibilities. Although each Rotarian has first responsibility to uphold the obligations of citizenship of his or her own country, membership in Rotary enables Rotarians to take a somewhat different view of international affairs. In the early 1950s a Rotary philosophy was adopted to describe how a Rotarian may think on a global basis. Here is what it said:

"A world-minded Rotarian:

·        looks beyond national patriotism and considers himself as sharing responsibility for the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace;

·        resists any tendency to act in terms of national or racial superiority;

·        seeks and develops common grounds for agreement with peoples of other lands;

·        defends the rule of law and order to preserve the liberty of the individual so that he may enjoy freedom of thought, speech and assembly, and freedom from persecution, aggression, want and fear;

·        supports action directed toward improving standards of living for all peoples, realizing that poverty anywhere endangers prosperity everywhere;

·        upholds the principles of justice for mankind;

·        strives always to promote peace between nations and prepares to make personal sacrifices for that ideal;

·        urges and practices a spirit of understanding of every other man's beliefs as a step toward international goodwill, recognizing that there are certain basic moral and spiritual standards which will ensure a richer, fuller life."

That is quite an assignment for any Rotarian to practice in thoughts and actions!


Rotary International is the most territorial organization in the world. It exists in 150 countries and cuts across dozens of languages, political and social structures, customs, religions and traditions. How is it that all of the more than 27,000 Rotary clubs of the world operate in almost identical style? The primary answer is the Standard Rotary Club Constitution.

One of the conditions to receive a charter to become a Rotary club is to accept the Standard Club Constitution, originally adopted in 1922. The Standard Club Constitution outlines administrative techniques for clubs to follow in holding weekly meetings, procedures for membership and classifications, conditions of attendance and payment of dues and other policies relating to public issues and political positions.

This constitutional document provides the framework for all Rotary clubs in the world. When the Standard Club Constitution was accepted, it was agreed that all existing clubs could continue to follow their current constitution. Although most of those early clubs have subsequently endorsed the Standard Constitution, a few pre-1922 clubs still conduct their club affairs according to their former constitutional provisions.

The Standard Club Constitution has to be considered one of the great strengths of Rotary to enable the organization to operate in so many thousands of communities.


The bylaws of Rotary clearly outline the procedure for a prospective member to be proposed for Rotary club membership. The "proposer" is the key person in the growth and advancement of Rotary. Without a sponsor, an individual will never have the opportunity to become a Rotarian.

The task of the proposer should not end merely by submitting a name to the club secretary or membership committee. Rotary has not established formal responsibilities for proposers or sponsors, however, by custom and tradition these procedures are recommended in many clubs. The sponsor should:

1.      Invite a prospective member to several meetings prior to proposing the individual for membership.

2.      Accompany the prospective new member to one or more orientation/informational meetings.

3.      Introduce the new member to other club members each week for the first month.

4.      Invite the new member to accompany the sponsor to neighboring clubs for the first make-up meeting to learn the process and observe the spirit of fellowship.

5.      Ask the new member and spouse to accompany the sponsor to the club's social activities, dinners or other special occasions.

6.      Urge the new member and spouse to attend the district conference with the sponsor.

7.      Serve as a special friend to assure that the new member becomes an active Rotarian.

When the proposer follows these guidelines, Rotary becomes stronger with each new member.


Until 1989, the Constitution and Bylaws of Rotary International stated that Rotary club membership was for males only. In 1978 the Rotary Club of Duarte, California, invited three women to become members. The RI board withdrew the charter of that club for violation of the RI Constitution. The club brought suit against RI claiming a violation of a state civil rights law which prevents discrimination of any form in business establishments or public accommodations. The appeals court and the California Supreme Court supported the Duarte position that Rotary could not remove the club's charter merely for inducting women into the club. The United States Supreme Court upheld the California court indicating that Rotary clubs do have a "business purpose" and are in some ways public-type organizations. This action in 1987 allowed women to become Rotarians in any jurisdiction having similar "public accommodation" statutes.

The RI constitutional change was made at the 1989 Council on Legislation, with a vote to eliminate the "male only" provision for all of Rotary.


The headquarters of Rotary International always has been in the area of Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. First it was in Chicago itself, but in 1954 an attractive new building opened in suburban Evanston. The Ridge Avenue building met the needs of the Rotary Secretariat until the 1980s when the addition of new programs, the growth of The Rotary Foundation, and the new PolioPlus activities made the headquarters building extremely crowded and required some staff members to be housed in supplementary office space nearby.

When a modern 18-story office building became available in downtown Evanston in 1987, it appeared to meet all of Rotary's space and expansion needs for years to come. The glass and steel structure, built in 1977, provides 400,000 square feet of office and usable space. The building was purchased by Rotary International, which leases approximately two-thirds of the space to commercial tenants, until needed by future Rotary growth.

The building provides a 190-seat auditorium, large parking garage and 300-seat cafeteria, as well as functional office space for the 400 employees of the world headquarters. The executive suite on the 18th floor includes conference rooms for the RI board and committee meetings, in addition to the offices for the RI president, president-elect and general secretary.

One Rotary Center, as it is called, will enhance the efficient operations of Rotary International for many years to come.


·        Rotary became bilingual in 1916 when the first club was organized in a non-English-speaking country-Havana, Cuba.

·        Rotary established the "Endowment Fund" in 1917, which became the forerunner of The Rotary Foundation.

·        Rotary first adopted the name "Rotary International" in 1922 when the name was changed from the International Association of Rotary Clubs.

·        Rotary first established the Paul Harris Fellows recognition in 1957 for contributors of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation.

·        The Rotary club which first held meetings on a weekly basis was Oakland, California, the Number 3 club.

·        The Rotary emblem was printed on a commemorative stamp for the first time in 1931 at the time of the Vienna Convention.

·        The first Rotary club banner (from the Houston Space Center) to orbit the moon was carried by astronaut Frank Borman, a member of that club.

·        The first Rotary International convention held outside the United States was in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1921.

·        The first head of state to address a Rotary convention was U.S. President Warren G. Harding in 1923 at St. Louis.


The month of February is very special in the Rotary calendar since it is designated World Understanding Month. The month also includes the anniversary of the first meeting of Rotary held on February 23, 1905, now designated World Understanding and Peace Day.

In designating World Understanding Month, the Rotary International board asks all Rotary clubs to plan programs for their weekly meetings and undertake special activities to emphasize "understanding and goodwill as essential for world peace."

To observe this designated month, many clubs arrange international speakers, invite youth exchange students and international scholars from schools and universities to club meetings, plan programs featuring former Group Study Exchange team members, arrange discussions on international issues, present entertainment with an international cultural or artistic theme and schedule other programs with an international emphasis.

Many clubs take the opportunity to launch an international community service activity or make contact with a Rotary club in another country. It is a good month to initiate a Rotary Fellowship Exchange, a 3-H project or encourage support for PolioPlus and other Rotary Foundation programs.

World Understanding Month is a chance for every club to pause, plan and promote the Fourth Avenue of Service-Rotary's continued quest for goodwill, peace and understanding among people of the world.


Since 1981, the Rotary Award for World Understanding has been given each year, with one exception, to an individual or organization "whose life or work demonstrates in some exemplary or worthy manner the Rotary ideal of service, especially in the promotion of international understanding, goodwill and peace." The award is presented at the Rotary International Convention. A special worldwide committee makes the selection, which must then be approved by the RI Board of Directors and the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation.

In addition to a beautiful crystal sculpture, the award provides US$100,000 for the recipient to designate to a charitable cause that is in harmony with The Rotary Foundation's mission of international peace and understanding through humanitarian and educational projects. Past recipients of the World Understanding Awards have been: 1981, Dr. Noburo Iwamura, Japanese professor of medical research; 1982, Pope John Paul II; 1983, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, Canadian humanitarian; 1984, World Organization of the Scout Movement; 1985, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, developer of oral polio vaccine; 1986, International Committee of the Red Cross; 1987, Lady Hermione Ranfurly, for worldwide Ranfurly Library Services; 1988, The Salvation Army; 1989, no award; 1990, Vaclav Havel, president of Czechoslovakia; 1991, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, secretary general of the United Nations; 1992, Edward J. Piszek, U.S.A. businessman- philanthropist; 1993, Dr. Fred Hollows, a pioneering Australian doctor; and 1994, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. 

(From the Rotary publication The ABCs of Rotary)


Virtually all membership in Rotary is based upon a "classification." Basically a classification describes the distinct and recognized business or professional service which the Rotarian renders to society.

The principle of Rotary classification is somewhat more specific and precise. In determining the classification of a Rotarian it is necessary to look at the "principal or recognized business or professional activity of the firm, company or institution" with which an active member is connected or "that which covers his principal and recognized business or professional activity."

It should be clearly understood that classifications are determined by activities or services to society rather than by the position held by a particular individual. In other words, if a person is the president of a bank, he or she is not classified as "bank president" but under the classification "banking."

It is the principal and recognized activity of a business or professional establishment or the individual's principal and recognized business or professional activity that determines the classification to be established and loaned to a qualified person. For example, the permanently employed electrical engineer, insurance adjustor, or business manager of a railroad company, mining company, manufacturing concern, hospital, clinic, etc., may be considered for membership as a representative of the particular work he or she may be doing personally or as a representative of the firm, company, or institution for which the professional service is being done.

The classification principle also permits business and industries to be separated into distinct functions such as manufacturing, distributing, retailing and servicing. Classifications may also be specified as distinct and independent divisions of a large corporation or university within the club's territory, such as a school of business or a school of engineering.

The classification principle is a necessary concept in assuring that each Rotary club represents a cross section of the business and professional service of the community.


One of the colorful traditions of many Rotary clubs is the exchange of small banners, flags or pennants. Rotarians traveling to distant locations often take banners to exchange at "make up" meetings as a token of friendship. Many clubs use the decorative banners they have received for attractive displays at club meetings and district events.

The Rotary International board recognized the growing popularity of the banner exchange back in 1959 and suggested that those clubs which participate in such exchanges give careful thought to the design of their banners in order that they be distinctive and expressive of the community and country of which the club is a part. It is recommended that banners include pictures, slogans or designs which portray the territorial area of the club.

The board was also mindful of the financial burden such exchanges may impose upon some clubs, especially in popular areas where many visitors make up and request to exchange. In all instances, clubs are cautioned to exercise discretion and moderation in the exchange of banners in order that the financial obligations do not interfere with the basic service activities of the club.

Exchanging club banners is a very pleasant custom, especially when a creative and artistic banner tells an interesting story of community pride. The exchange of banners is a significant tradition of Rotary and serves as a tangible symbol of our international fellowship.


The Rotary Club Constitution specifies three conditions under which a Rotarian's membership will automatically be terminated for non- attendance. These circumstances are: failure to attend or make up four consecutive club meetings, failure to attend or make up 60 percent of club meetings each six months and failure to attend at least 30 percent of the meetings of one's own club in each six-month period. Under any of these three cases, a member will lose Rotary membership unless the club board of directors has previously consented to excuse such failure for good and sufficient reason.

To some individuals, these rules may seem unusually rigid. However, being present at club meetings is one of the basic obligations a member accepts upon joining a Rotary club. The constitutional rules merely emphasize that Rotary is a participatory organization which highly values regular attendance. When a member is absent the entire club loses the personal association with that member. Being present at a club meeting is considered a vital part of the operation and success of every Rotary club.

For any Rotarian to miss four consecutive meetings, or disregard the other attendance requirements, should be considered tantamount to the submission of one's resignation from the club. When a club terminates a member for non-attendance, it is simply an acceptance of a resignation and not a punitive action by the club officers. All Rotarians know the consequences of non-attendance, so it clearly becomes a conscious decision by a Rotarian to withdraw from the club when he fails to fulfill the attendance requirements.


Are you aware of the responsibility or obligation most Rotarians fail to perform? Paying their dues? Attending meetings? Contributing to the club's service fund? Participating in club events and projects? No- none of these!

Of all the obligations a person accepts when joining a Rotary club, the one in which most Rotarians fail is "sharing Rotary." The policies of Rotary International clearly affirm that every individual Rotarian has an "obligation to share Rotary with others and to help extend Rotary through proposing qualified persons for Rotary club membership." It is estimated that less than 30 percent of the members of most Rotary clubs have ever made the effort to propose a new member. Thus, in every club, there are many Rotarians who readily accept the pleasures of being a Rotarian without ever sharing that privilege with another qualified individual.

The Rotary policy on club membership states: "In order for a Rotary club to be fully relevant to its community and responsive to the needs of those in the community, it is important and necessary that the club include in its membership all fully qualified prospective members located within its territory." One merely has to glance through the yellow pages of the local telephone directory to realize that most clubs have not invited qualified members of all businesses and professions into Rotary.

Only a Rotarian may propose a customer, neighbor, client, supplier, executive, relative, business associate, professional or other qualified person to join a Rotary club. Have you accepted your obligation to share Rotary? The procedures are very simple, and everyone must know at least one person who should belong to Rotary.


Occasionally there is a temptation to criticize the laws, customs and traditions of another country which may seem strange or contrary to our own. In some instances illegal practices or customs of one nation are completely lawful and acceptable in another.

As members of an international organization dedicated to world understanding and peace, it behooves Rotarians to exercise restraint in judging our Rotary friends and citizens from other countries when their behavior seems unusual to us. A Rotary policy has existed for more than half a century relating to this dilemma of international relationships.

The statement, adopted in 1933, says that because it is recognized that some activities and local customs may be legal and customary in some countries and not in others, Rotarians should be guided by this admonition of tolerance:

"Rotarians in all countries should recognize these facts and there should be a thoughtful avoidance of criticism of the laws and customs of one country by the Rotarians of another country." The policy also cautions against "any effort on the part of Rotarians of one country to interfere with the laws or customs of another country."

As we strive to strengthen the bonds of understanding, goodwill and friendship, these policies still provide good advice and guidance.


Vocational Service is the "Second Avenue of Service." No aspect of Rotary is more closely related to each member than a personal commitment to represent one's vocation or occupation to fellow Rotarians and to exemplify the characteristics of high ethical standards and the dignity of work. Programs of vocational service are those which seek to improve business relations while improving the quality of trades, industry, commerce and the professions. Rotarians understand that each person makes a valuable contribution to a better society through daily activities in a business or profession.

Vocational Service is frequently demonstrated by offering young people career guidance, occupational information and assistance in making vocational choices. Some clubs sponsor high school career conferences. Many recognize the dignity of employment by honoring exemplary service of individuals working in their communities. The 4-Way Test and other ethical and laudable business philosophies are often promoted among young people entering the world of work. Vocational talks and discussion of business issues are also typical vocational service programs at most clubs.

Regardless of the ways that Vocational Service is expressed, it is the banner by which Rotarians "recognize the worthiness of all useful occupations" and demonstrate a commitment to "high ethical standards in all businesses and professions." That's why the Second Avenue of Service is fundamental to every Rotary club.


In many Rotary clubs throughout the world, wives of male members are affectionately called "Rotary Anns." This designation was never one of disparagement, but rather grew out of an interesting historical occasion.

The year was 1914 when San Francisco Rotarians boarded a special train to attend the Rotary convention being held in Houston. In those days few wives attended Rotary events, and until the train stopped in Los Angeles, the only woman aboard was the wife of Rotarian Bru Brunnier. As the train picked up additional convention-bound delegates, Mrs. Ann Brunnier was introduced as the Rotarian's Ann. This title soon became "Rotary Ann." Since the clubs of the West were inviting the Rotarians to hold their next convention in San Francisco, a number of songs and stunts were organized which would be performed in Houston. One of the Rotarians wrote a "Rotary Ann" chant. On the train's arrival at the Houston depot, a delegation greeted the West Coast Rotarians. One of the greeters was Guy Gundaker of Philadelphia, whose wife was also named Ann. During the rousing demonstration, someone started the Rotary Ann chant. The two petite ladies, Ann Brunnier and Ann Gundaker, were hoisted to the men's shoulders and paraded about the hall. The group loved the title given to the two women named Ann. Immediately the same term of endearment was used for all of the wives in attendance, and the name "Rotary Ann" was here to stay.

Guy Gundaker became president of Rotary International in 1923 and Bru Brunnier was elected president in 1952. Thus, each of the two original Rotary Anns became the "first lady of Rotary International."


·        Were you aware that the Rotary Club of Reno, Nevada, is farther west than the Rotary Club of Los Angeles, California?

·        Would you guess that the meetings of the Rotary Club of Portland, Maine, are farther south than those of the clubs in London, England?

·        Can you imagine that the Pensacola, Florida, Rotary Club is west of the Detroit, Michigan, club?

·        It's a fact that the Cairo, Illinois, Rotary Club is south of Richmond, Virginia.

·        There are 69 Rotary clubs with the word "Tokyo" in their club names.

·        The Rotary Club of Nome, Alaska, lies west of the club in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Santiago, Chile, club is located east of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

·        Rotary geographers will know that virtually every Rotary club meeting in Australia is east of the Hong Kong Rotary Club.

·        What do the Rotary clubs of Quito, Ecuador, Libreville, Gabon, Singapore, and Kampala, Uganda, have in common? You guessed right if you said they all meet approximately on the equator.

·        There are many interesting relationships and things to learn as you become acquainted with the 27,000 clubs in the wide world of Rotary.


In many Rotary clubs, particularly in Judeo-Christian nations, it is customary to open weekly meetings with an appropriate invocation or blessing. Usually such invocations are offered without reference to specific religious denominations or faiths.

Rotary policy recognizes that throughout the world Rotarians represent many religious beliefs, ideas and creeds. The religious beliefs of each member are fully respected, and nothing in Rotary is intended to prevent each individual from being faithful to such convictions.

At international assemblies and conventions, it is traditional for a silent invocation to be given. In respect for all religious beliefs and in the spirit of tolerance for a wide variety of personal faiths, all persons are invited to seek divine guidance and peace "each in his own way." It is an inspiring experience to join with thousands of Rotarians in an international "silent prayer" or act of personal devotion. Usually all Rotary International board and committee meetings begin with a few moments of silent meditation. In this period of silence, Rotary demonstrates respect for the beliefs of all members, who represent the religions of the world.

Since each Rotary club is autonomous, the practice of presenting a prayer or invocation at club meetings is left entirely to the traditions and customs of the individual club, with the understanding that these meeting rituals always be conducted in a manner which will respect the religious convictions and faiths of all members.


Most Rotarians are successful professional and business executives because they hear opportunities knock and take advantage of them. Once a week the opportunity for Rotary fellowship occurs at each club meeting, but not all members hear it knocking.

The weekly club meeting is a special privilege of Rotary membership. It provides the occasion to visit with fellow members, to meet visitors you have not known before, and to share your personal friendship with other members.

Rotary clubs which have a reputation of being "friendly clubs" usually follow a few simple steps: First, members are encouraged to sit in a different seat or at a different table each week. Second, Rotarians are urged to sit with a member they may not know as well as their long- time personal friends. Third, members invite new members or visitors to join their table just by saying: "Come join us, we have an empty chair at this table."

Fourth, members share the conversation around the table rather than merely eating in silence or talking privately to the person next to them. Fifth, Rotarians make a special point of trying to get acquainted with all members of the club by seeking out those they may not know.

When Rotarians follow these five easy steps, an entirely new opportunity for fellowship knocks each week. Soon Rotarians realize that warm and personal friendship is the cornerstone of every great Rotary club.


"Senior active" is a form of membership reserved for members who have provided substantial years of service to Rotary and is usually regarded as a mark of Rotary distinction. Being a senior active member signifies that a Rotarian has been involved in club activities over a long period.

A Rotarian automatically becomes "senior active" upon completion of 15 years of service in one or more Rotary clubs. Senior active status is also conferred upon a Rotarian with ten or more years service who has reached the age of 60, or with five or more years of service who has reached the age of 65. A Rotarian who serves as a district governor is also eligible for senior active membership.

One of the benefits of being senior active is that the Rotarian no longer must reside or have his place of business within the territorial limits of the club. If a senior active member moves to another city, he may be invited to join Rotary without having an open classification. When a Rotarian becomes senior active, his/her classification is released to enable another individual to join Rotary.

It is important to remember, senior active is not a classification, it is a type of membership. A senior active member is always identified by "former classification," which describes a business or profession.


"Honorary" is one of the four types of membership a person may have in a Rotary club. This type of membership is the highest distinction a Rotary club can confer and is exercised only in exceptional cases to recognize an individual for unusual service and contributions to Rotary and society. An honorary member is elected for one year only, and continuing membership must be renewed annually.

Honorary members cannot propose new members to the club, do not hold office and are exempt from attendance requirements and club dues.

Many distinguished heads of state, explorers, authors, musicians, astronauts and other public personalities have been honorary members of Rotary clubs, including King Gustaf of Sweden, King George VI of England, King Badouin of Belgium, King Hassan III of Morocco, Sir Winston Churchill, humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, Charles Lindbergh, composer Jean Sibelius, explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, Thor Heyerdahl, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Dr. Albert Sabin, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and many of the presidents of the United States. Truly, those selected for honorary membership are those who have done much to further the ideals of Rotary.  


If you asked a Rotarian if he or she belonged to Rotary International, the individual probably would look puzzled and answer, "Of course I'm a member of Rotary International." But in this instance, the confident Rotarian would be technically wrong. No Rotarian can be a member of Rotary International!

The explanation of this apparent contradiction is simple. The constitutional documents of RI state that membership in Rotary International is limited to Rotary clubs. Over 27,000 Rotary clubs belong to the organization we call Rotary International.

A Rotary club is composed of persons with the appropriate qualifications of good character and reputation, a business or professional classification and who serve in an executive or managerial capacity. The Rotarian belongs to a club-the club belongs to Rotary International. This technical distinction is not obvious or even known to most Rotarians and seldom does it create any problems or complications. It does explain, however, why the Rotary International Board of Directors places expectations upon and extends privileges to Rotary clubs, rather than to individual Rotarians.

If someone asks if you belong to Rotary International, your most accurate answer would be, "No, I belong to a Rotary club." But I doubt if anyone would understand the difference, or, in fact, would really care.


The Rotary district governor performs a very significant function in the world of Rotary. He or she is the single officer of Rotary International in the geographic area called a Rotary district, which usually includes about 45 Rotary clubs. The district governors, who have been extensively trained at the worldwide International Assembly, provide the "quality control" for the 27,000 Rotary clubs of the world. They are responsible for maintaining high performance within the clubs of their district.

The district governor, who must make an official visit to each club in the district, is never regarded as an "inspector general." Rather, he or she visits as a helpful and friendly adviser to the club officers, as a useful counselor to further the Object of Rotary among the clubs of the district, and as a catalyst to help strengthen the programs of Rotary.

The district governor is a very experienced Rotarian who generously devotes a year to the volunteer task of leadership. The governor has a wealth of knowledge about current Rotary programs, purposes, policies and goals and is a person of recognized high standing in his or her profession, community and Rotary club. The governor must supervise the organization of new clubs and strengthen existing ones. He or she performs a host of specific duties to assure that the quality of Rotary does not falter in the district, and is responsible to promote and implement all programs and activities of the Rotary International president and the RI Board of Directors. The governor plans and directs a district conference and other special events.

Each district governor performs a very important role in the worldwide operations of Rotary. The district governor is truly a prime example of Service Above Self performing a labor of love.


In view of the annual turnover of Rotary leadership each year, special effort is required to provide the 27,000 club leaders with appropriate instruction for the tasks they will assume. The annual district assembly is the major leadership training event in each Rotary district of the world.

The district assembly offers motivation, inspiration, Rotary information and new ideas for club officers, directors and key committee chairmen of each club. Some of the most experienced district leaders conduct informative discussions on all phases of Rotary administration and service projects. The assembly gives all participants valuable new ideas to make their club more effective and interesting. Usually eight to ten delegates from each club are invited to attend the training session.

Another important feature of a district assembly is a review by the incoming district governor of the program theme and emphasis of the new RI president for the coming year. District goals and objects are also described and plans are developed for their implementation.

The success of each Rotary club is frequently determined by the club's full representation and participation in the annual district assembly.


Most Rotarians have never attended a Rotary district conference. They have not experienced one of the most enjoyable and rewarding privileges of Rotary membership.

A district conference is for all club members and their spouses, not just for club officers and committee members. The purpose of a district conference is for fellowship, good fun, inspirational speakers and discussion of matters which make one's Rotary membership more meaningful. Every person who attends a district conference finds that being a Rotarian becomes even more rewarding because of the new experiences, insights and acquaintances developed at the conference. Those who attend a conference enjoy going back, year after year.

Every one of Rotary's more than 500 districts has a conference annually. These meetings are considered so important that the Rotary International president selects a knowledgeable Rotarian as his personal representative to attend and address each conference. The program always includes several outstanding entertainment features, interesting discussions and inspirational programs.

One of the unexpected benefits of attending a district conference is the opportunity to become better acquainted with members of one's own club in an informal setting. Lasting friendships grow from the fellowship hours at the district conference.


Rotary Youth Exchange is one of Rotary's most popular programs to promote international understanding and develop lifelong friendships. It began in 1927 with the Rotary Club of Nice, France. In 1939 an extensive Youth Exchange was created between California and Latin America. Since then the program has expanded around the world. In recent years more than 7,000 young people have participated annually in Rotary-sponsored exchange programs.

The values of Youth Exchange are experienced not only by the high school-age students involved but also by the host families, sponsoring clubs, receiving high schools and the entire community. Youth Exchange participants usually provide their fellow students in their host schools with excellent opportunities to learn about customs, languages, traditions and family life in another country.

Youth Exchange offers young people interesting opportunities and rich experiences to see another part of the world. Students usually spend a full academic year abroad, although some clubs and districts sponsor short-term exchanges of several weeks or months.

Approximately 36 percent of Rotary Youth Exchange students are hosted or sent by the clubs in the United States and Canada. European countries account for about 40 percent, and 12 percent come from Australia and New Zealand. Asian clubs sponsor 5 percent, and 7 percent come from Latin American countries. Over 70 percent of all Rotary districts participate in Youth Exchange activities.

Youth Exchange is a highly recommended program for all Rotary clubs as a practical activity for the enhancement of international understanding and goodwill.


Frequently, friends ask whether Rotarians receive special business benefits from their Rotary membership. Should Rotarians expect a special discount or some preferential service just because they are dealing with a fellow Rotarian?

The answer is clearly "no." The Rotary Manual of Procedure expressly states the Rotary position on this matter. The policy, originally approved by the RI Board of Directors in 1933, is that in business and professional relations "a Rotarian should not expect, and far less should he ask for, more consideration or advantages from a fellow Rotarian than the latter would give to any other business or professional associate with whom he has business relations." Over 50 years ago the concept was expressed that "true friends demand nothing of one another, and any abuse of the confidence of friendship for profit is foreign to the spirit of Rotary."

On the other hand, if new or increased business comes as the natural result of friendship created in Rotary, it is the same normal development which takes place outside of Rotary as well as inside, so it is not an infringement on the ethics of Rotary membership.

It is important to remember that the primary purpose of Rotary membership is to provide each member with a unique opportunity to serve others, and membership is not intended as a means for personal profit or special privileges.


In much of the official literature of Rotary International relating to service to young people, a special slogan will be found- "Every Rotarian an Example to Youth." These words were adopted in 1949 by the Rotary International Board of Directors as an expression of commitment to children and youth in each community in which Rotary clubs exist. Serving young people has long been an important part of the Rotary program.

Youth service projects take many forms around the world. Rotarians sponsor Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, athletic teams, handicapped children's centers, school safety patrols, summer camps, recreation areas, safe driving clinics, county fairs, child care centers and children's hospitals. Many clubs provide vocational counseling, establish youth employment programs and promote use of The 4-Way Test. Increasingly, drug and alcohol abuse prevention projects are being supported by Rotarians.

In every instance, Rotarians have an opportunity to be role models for the young men and women of their community. One learns to serve by observing others. As our youth grow to become adult leaders, it is hoped each will achieve that same desire and spirit to serve future generations of children and youth.

The slogan accepted over 40 years ago is just as vital today. It is a very thoughtful challenge-"Every Rotarian an Example to Youth."


World Community Service is the Rotary program by which a club or district in one country provides humanitarian assistance to a club in another country. Typically the aid goes to a developing community where the Rotary project will help raise the standard of living and the quality of life. The ultimate object of World Community Service is to build goodwill and understanding among peoples of the world.

One important way to find a club in some other part of the world which needs help on a worthy project is to use the WCS Projects Exchange, a list of dozens of worthy activities in developing areas. The exchange list is maintained in the RI Secretariat in Evanston and is readily available upon request. It outlines projects, provides estimated costs and gives names of the appropriate contacts.

Clubs which need assistance, or are seeking another club to help with a humanitarian project, such as building a clinic, school, hospital, community water well, library or other beneficial activity, may register their needs. Clubs seeking a desirable World Community Service project may easily review the list of needs registered in the Projects Exchange. Thus, the exchange provides a practical way to link needs with resources.

Every Rotary club is urged to undertake a new World Community Service project each year. The WCS Projects Exchange list is an excellent tool to find a real need, a project description and cooperating club in a developing area. The job then is to "go to work" to complete the project, and at the same time build bridges of friendship and world understanding.

Copyright (c) Rotary International. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

(From the Rotary publication The ABCs of Rotary)


Some very significant programs of Rotary service are not conducted by Rotarians. This is true because of the many projects sponsored by organizations of Rotarians' wives and other women relatives associated with Rotary clubs around the world.

Women's groups-often called Women of Rotary, Rotary Ann Clubs, Las Damas de Rotary, Rotary Wives or, the more formalized organization, The Inner Wheel-annually conduct hundreds of notable projects of humanitarian service in their communities. The women's groups establish schools, baby clinics, food and clothing distribution centers, hospital facilities, orphanages, homes for the elderly and other service activities, and they frequently provide volunteer service on a day-to- day basis to operate child-care centers for working mothers and provide necessary resources for Youth Exchange students. Usually the women's groups complement and supplement the programs of service performed by the local Rotary clubs. Many of the women's groups actively conduct international service projects as well as local projects.

The RI Board of Directors in 1984 recognized the excellent service and fellowship of the clubs and organization of women relatives of Rotarians and encouraged all Rotary clubs to sponsor such informal organizations.


It has been estimated that a billion people-one-fourth of the world's population-are unable to read. Illiteracy of adults and children is a global concern in both highly industrialized nations and in developing countries. The number of adult illiterates in the world is increasing by 25 million each year! In the United States, one quarter of the entire population is considered functionally illiterate.

The tragedy of illiteracy is that those who cannot read lose personal independence and become victims of unscrupulous manipulation, poverty and the loss of human feelings which give meaning to life. Illiteracy is demeaning. It is a major obstacle for economic, political, social and personal development. Illiteracy is a barrier to international understanding, cooperation and peace in the world.

Literacy education was considered a program priority by Rotary's original Health, Hunger and Humanity Committee in 1978. An early 3-H grant led to the preparation of an excellent source book on the issues of literacy in the world. The Rotary-sponsored publication, The Right to Read, was edited by Rotarian Eve Malmquist, a past district governor from Linkoping, Sweden, and a recognized authority on reading and educational research. The book was the forerunner of a major Rotary program emphasis on literacy promotion.

In 1985 the RI Planning and Research Committee proposed, and the RI board approved, that the Rotary clubs of the world conduct a ten-year emphasis on literacy education. Many Rotary clubs are thoughtfully surveying the needs of their community for literacy training. Some clubs provide basic books for teaching reading. Others establish and support reading and language clinics, provide volunteer tutorial assistance and purchase reading materials. Rotarians can play a vitally important part in their community and in developing countries by promoting projects to open opportunities which come from the ability to read.


One current area of special emphasis for Rotary clubs focuses on providing "new opportunities for the aging." In 1990, the RI Board of Directors urged Rotarians to identify new projects serving the elderly that emphasize intergenerational activities and the integration of seniors into society and the workplace. The following year, the board called for an approach that stressed service "with" the elderly as well as "for" them.

With the substantial upswing in the worldwide population of older persons, their needs for special attention have greatly multiplied. As citizens grow older, it becomes increasingly important for them to retain their personal independence and to remain in control of their own lives to the extent this is possible.

Many Rotary clubs are seeking ways to serve the older persons of their community who face problems of deteriorating health, loneliness, poor nutrition, transportation difficulties, inability to do customary chores, loss of family associations, reduced recreational opportunities, inadequate housing and limited information about available social agencies for emergency assistance. Some clubs have initiated a valuable community service to assist older persons in retirement planning and adjustment by organizing and sharing the wealth of information available within the club's membership. Other clubs have developed foster grandparent programs and other intergenerational activities that allow seniors to use their experience and knowledge to help young people. Rotarians often can provide services which seniors can no longer do for themselves.

The greatest need of aging individuals is frequently a mere expression of real caring and concern by thoughtful friends. All Rotarians should seriously consider how they and their clubs may actively participate in programs for the aging. It is one area of community service in which there is a growing possibility that each of us may some day be on the receiving end.


Each May or June, Rotary International holds a worldwide convention "to stimulate, inspire and inform all Rotarians at an international level." The convention, which may not be held in the same country for more than two consecutive years, is the annual meeting to conduct the business of the association. The planning process usually begins about four or five years in advance.

Future RI conventions are scheduled for Nice, France, in 1995, Calgary, Canada, in 1996, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1997 and Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A., in 1998. The RI board determines a general location and invites cities to make proposals. The conventions are truly international events which 15,000 to 20,000 Rotarians and guests attend. All members should plan to participate in a Rotary International convention to discover the real internationality of Rotary. It is an experience you'll never forget.


From time to time Rotarians may read the promotional literature announcing a regional conference to be held some place in the world. Such a conference is quite similar to the annual Rotary International convention, but generally smaller in attendance and serving Rotarians and guests in a region which is at a considerable distance from the site of the international convention.

The purpose of a regional conference is to develop and promote acquaintance, friendship and understanding among the attendees, as well as to provide a forum to discuss and exchange ideas about Rotary and international affairs related to the geographic areas involved.

Regional conferences usually attract two or three thousand individuals and because they are considered special events in the Rotary calendar, are not held on any regular schedule. The conferences are arranged periodically, according to the interest of the Rotary leaders in specific regions. Many of the operational tasks of the conferences are handled by the RI Secretariat.

Although there is no special effort to promote attendance by Rotarians outside of the region involved, members from all parts of the world are always welcome to attend. Attending a conference in another region is an enjoyable, rewarding and fascinating experience. They provide another facet to the international fellowship of Rotary.


In 1931 Rotarians in France and Germany organized the "petit comite," a small group with the goal of fostering better relations between the people of these two neighboring nations. Since that time, Rotarians throughout Europe have led the way in creating Intercountry Committees to encourage contacts between Rotarians and Rotary clubs across national boundaries.

Intercountry Committees have now been established in many parts of the world to promote friendship as well as to cooperate in sponsoring World Community Service projects, student exchanges and other activities to improve understanding among nations. Frequently, the Intercountry Committees sponsor visits of Rotarians and their families across national borders and arrange intercity meetings and conferences. In some instances, Intercountry Committees are created between countries separated by great distances in an effort to encourage goodwill and friendship with matched or partner areas of the world. The Intercountry Committees coordinate their efforts with the district governors of their countries and always serve in an advisory capacity to districts and clubs.

Intercountry Committees provide an additional means for Rotary clubs and Rotarians to fulfill the responsibilities of the Fourth Avenue of Service-international understanding, goodwill and peace in the world.


The structure of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) forms an interesting chapter in our history. In 1914, after Rotary expanded across the Atlantic to Great Britain and Ireland, a British Association of Rotary Clubs was established as part of the International Association of Rotary Clubs. During World War I there was little contact between the international clubs, and the British association held the small number of Rotary clubs together in Great Britain, Ireland and a few other European communities.

Following the war, a new Rotary International Constitution was adopted in 1922 which established the principle that whenever a country had 25 Rotary clubs it could become a "territorial unit" and thus have a representative on the RI board and receive other specific powers. The clubs in Great Britain and Ireland immediately petitioned for and received the status of a "territorial unit." No other group in the world made such a request or received that status.

In 1927 Rotary International terminated the territorial unit concept and organized Rotary clubs by "areas" of the world. However, all of "the rights, privileges and powers of existing territorial units" were forever protected and perpetuated. Thus, since RIBI was the only territorial unit, it has continued to function as an independent unit of Rotary International, subject to certain approvals by the RI Constitution.

The RIBI form of administration is uniquely appropriate to Great Britain and Ireland because of geography, language, tradition and custom. Because of this historic relationship, RIBI maintains a slightly different administrative structure from all the other Rotary clubs and districts in the world, even though it is a full member of Rotary International.


In the early days of Rotary, any change in the RI Bylaws or Constitution was proposed and voted upon at the annual convention. As attendance at conventions increased and open discussion became more difficult, a Council on Legislation was created in 1934 as an advisory group to debate and analyze proposals before they were voted upon by the convention.

Finally at the 1970 Atlanta Convention, it was decided that the Council on Legislation would actually become the legislative or parliamentary body of Rotary. The council is composed of one delegate from each Rotary district as well as several ex-officio members. It was agreed that the council would meet every three years at a time other than at the Rotary convention.

The council, which next meets in 1995, has the responsibility of considering and acting upon all "enactments," which are proposed changes in the Bylaws and Constitution, and "resolutions," which are recommended changes in Rotary policies and procedures. Proposals may be submitted by any Rotary club, district or the RI board. The council's actions are subject to review by all the Rotary clubs of the world before they become final. If 10 percent of the voting strength of the clubs oppose a council action, such legislation is nullified and it is submitted for final consideration to the next convention.

The Council on Legislation provides the membership of Rotary a democratic process for legislative change in the operations of Rotary International.


From stamp collecting to wine appreciation, the hobbies of Rotarians are as diverse as the membership itself. Yet, among the more than one million Rotarians worldwide, an amateur-radio enthusiast or a chess player is bound to find others who share the same passions. But Recreational Fellowship members share more than just their common interest in sport diving or Esperanto; they share an interest in fellowship and service and in promoting world understanding. As such, it's no wonder that the International Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians donates the profits from ski events to The Rotary Foundation or that the Flying Rotarians help ferry medical personnel and supplies.

One has only to look at the types of Vocational Fellowships to recognize how they differ from their recreational counterparts. With Rotarians united by their shared professional interest in such fields as Hospital Administration and Finance/Banking, it's obvious that Vocational Service is as important a concern as international fellowship to the members of these groups. Members exchange technical information and seek opportunities to employ their expertise in service not just to their own communities and countries, but to their professions as well. For example, the Ophthalmology International Vocational Fellowship organized a professional seminar on the subject of eye surgery in developing countries.


An interesting Rotary program of fellowship is the Rotary Friendship Exchange. This activity, originally recommended by the New Horizons Committee in 1981, is intended to encourage Rotarians and spouses to visit with Rotarian families in other parts of the world. It may be conducted on a club-to-club or district-to-district basis.

The idea is for several Rotarian couples to travel to another country on the Rotary Friendship Exchange. Later the hospitality is reversed when the visit is exchanged. After a successful pilot experiment, the Rotary Friendship Exchange has become a permanent program of Rotary.

The Rotary Friendship Exchange is frequently compared to the Group Study Exchange program of The Rotary Foundation, except that it involves Rotarian couples who personally pay for all expenses of their intercountry experience. Doors of friendship are opened in a way which could not be duplicated except in Rotary.

Rotarians seeking an unusual vacation and fellowship experience should learn more about the Rotary Friendship Exchange. Some unusual Rotary adventures are awaiting you!


Each summer thousands of young people are selected to attend Rotary-sponsored leadership camps or seminars in the United States, Australia, Canada, India, France, Argentina, Korea and numerous other countries. In an informal out-of-doors atmosphere, 50 to 75 outstanding young men and/or women spend a week in a challenging program of discussions, inspirational addresses, leadership training and social activities designed to enhance personal development, leadership skills and good citizenship. The official name of this activity is the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program (RYLA), although the event is occasionally referred to as Camp Royal, Camp Enterprise, Youth Leaders Seminars, Youth Conferences or other terms.

The RYLA program began in Australia in 1959, when young people throughout the state of Queensland were selected to meet with Princess Alexandra, the young cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. The Rotarians of Brisbane, who hosted the participants, were impressed with the quality of the young leaders. It was decided to bring youth leaders together each year for a week of social, cultural and educational activities. The RYLA program gradually grew throughout all the Rotary districts of Australia and New Zealand. In 1971, the RI Board of Directors adopted RYLA as an official program of Rotary International.


One of the newer programs in Rotary's panoply of worldwide service activities and projects is the Rotary Village Corps. This new form of grass roots self-help service was initiated by RI President M.A.T. Caparas in 1986 as a means of improving the quality of life in villages, neighborhoods and communities. Frequently there is an abundance of available labor, but no process to mobilize men and women to conduct useful projects of community improvement.

A Rotary Village Corps-or Rotary Community Corps as they are called in industrialized countries-is a Rotary club-sponsored group of non-Rotarians who desire to help their own community by conducting a specific improvement project. The Rotary members provide the guidance, encouragement, organizational structure and some of the material assistance for the Rotary Village Corps, which in turn contributes the manpower to help their own community. Thus, the Rotary Village Corps provides a totally new process for Rotarians to serve in communities of great need.

Rotary Community Corps have been organized mainly in depressed ghetto areas of major cities where groups of individuals need the organizational and managerial skills of Rotarians to undertake valuable self-help community projects.

The Rotary Village Corps program offers a totally new dimension to the concept of service to improve the quality of life.


Interact, the Rotary youth program, was launched by the RI Board of Directors in 1962. The first Interact club was established by the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Florida. Interact clubs provide opportunities for boys and girls of secondary school age to work together in a world fellowship of service and international understanding. The term, Interact, is derived from "inter" for international, and "act" for action. Every Interact club must be sponsored and supervised by a Rotary club and must plan annual projects of service to its school, community and in the world.

Today there are over 7,200 Interact clubs with more than 155,000 members in 88 countries. "Interactors" develop skills in leadership and attain practical experience in conducting service projects, thereby learning the satisfaction that comes from serving others. A major goal of Interact is to provide opportunities for young people to create greater understanding and goodwill with youth throughout the world.


After the success of Interact clubs for high school-age youth in the early 1960s, the RI board created Rotaract in 1968. The new organization was designed to promote responsible citizenship and leadership potential in clubs of young men and women, aged 18 to 30. The first Rotaract club was chartered by the Charlotte North Rotary Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1994 there were more than 149,000 members in more than 6,500 Rotaract clubs in 107 countries.

Rotaract clubs emphasize the importance of individual responsibility as the basis of personal success and community involvement. Each club sponsors an annual project to promote high ethical standards in one's business and professional life. Rotaract also provides opportunities leading to greater international understanding and goodwill. Rotaractors enjoy many social activities as well as programs to improve their community. A Rotaract club can exist only when continuously sponsored, guided and counseled by a Rotary club. The programs of Rotaract are built around the motto "Fellowship Through Service."


The Rotary International float in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade is undoubtedly the largest public relations project of the Rotary clubs of the United States and Canada. Since 1924 a Rotary float has been entered 18 times including every year since 1981. The famous Pasadena, California, parade is seen by an estimated 125 million people via worldwide television.

Funds for the construction of the Rotary parade entry are voluntarily given by Rotarians and clubs in the U.S. and Canada. The cost of designing, constructing and flower covering a Rose Parade float begins at about $120,000.

A multi-district Rotary committee in Southern California coordinates planning of the Rotary float and provides hundreds of volunteer hours of service. The Rotary float must portray the annual parade theme, usually depicting one of the worldwide service programs of Rotary International.

Each New Year's Day, Rotarians take pride in seeing their attractive float and realize they have shared in its construction by contributing a dollar or two to this beautiful public relations project.


 ·        Rotary first presented "Significant Achievement Awards" in 1969 to clubs with outstanding international or community services projects.

·        Rotary's first Interact club was organized in Melbourne, Florida, in 1962 to become the pioneer for about 7,200 Interact clubs in 88 countries.

·        Rotary's first convention held in the Southern Hemisphere was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1948.

·        Rotary was assigned the copyright on the "4-Way Test" in 1954 when its author, Herbert Taylor, became president of Rotary International.

·        Rotary's first Community Service project took place in 1907 when Chicago Rotarians led a campaign to install a public "comfort station" in the city hall.

·        1964-65 was the first year when The Rotary Foundation received total contributions of a million dollars in a single year. Today more than $45 million is given annually. Contributions since 1917 total more than $750 million.

·        Rotary's first appeal for aid to disaster victims was in 1913 when $25,000 was given for flood relief in Ohio and Indiana.

·        Rotary's motto, "He Profits Most Who Serves Best," was first expressed at Rotary's very first Convention in Chicago in 1910.


The day-to-day operations of Rotary International's Secretariat are under the supervision of the general secretary, the top professional officer of Rotary. Although the general secretary is responsible to the RI Board of Directors and president, he provides the ongoing management for nearly 500 staff members who compose the Secretariat of Rotary International.

The general secretary serves as secretary to the RI board, and is also the chief executive and financial officer of The Rotary Foundation, under the supervision of the trustees of the Foundation. He is the secretary of all Rotary committees as well as the Council on Legislation, regional conferences and the annual Rotary convention.

The general secretary is appointed by the RI board for a term of not more than five years and is usually reelected. Since 1910, seven men have served in that position. Chesley Perry, the original general secretary, served from 1910 to 1942. Others who followed were Phil Lovejoy (1942-52), George Means (1953-72), Harry Stewart (1972-78), Herb Pigman (1979-86), Philip Lindsey (1986-90), and Spencer Robinson, Jr. (1990-93). The current general secretary, Herb Pigman, was reelected to the position in 1993.

Throughout the history of Rotary, the personal influence and administrative skills of our general secretaries have significantly shaped the course of Rotary programs and activities.


Each year a distinguished Rotarian is selected as the worldwide president of Rotary International. The process begins two years in advance when a 15-man nominating committee is elected from separate regions of the world. To qualify for the nominating committee, a Rotarian must have served on the RI Board of Directors and have extensive Rotary experience and substantial acquaintanceship with the world leaders of Rotary.

The nominating committee may consider all former RI directors for the presidential candidate. Members of the nominating committee and current directors are not eligible. Any Rotary club may suggest the name of a former RI director to the committee for consideration.

The committee convenes in September to select the Rotarian to be the presidential nominee. His name is announced to all clubs. Any Rotary club may make an additional nomination before December 1, which must then be endorsed by one percent of all the Rotary clubs of the world (about 250). If such an event occurs, an election is held by mail ballot. If no additional nomination is presented by the clubs, the man selected by the nominating committee is declared to be the president- nominee. From that point on, that special Rotarian and his wife will spend more than a year in preparation and then a year serving the Rotarians of the world as the international president.


In 1955, RI President A.Z. Baker announced a theme, "Develop Our Resources," to serve as Rotary's program of emphasis. Since that time, each president has issued a theme for his Rotary year. The shortest theme was in 1961-62 when Joseph Abey selected "Act." Other one-word themes were chosen in 1958-59 by Charles Tennent ("Serve") and 1968-69 by Kiyoshi Togasaki ("Participate").

Carl Miller, in 1963-64, had a theme for the times when he proposed "Guidelines for Rotary in the Space Age." Other "timely" themes were in 1980-81 when Rolf Klärich created "Take Time to Serve" and William Carter in 1973-74 used "Time for Action." Two themes have a similarity to commercial advertising: "A Better World Through Rotary" (Richard Evans, 1966-67) and "Reach Out" (Clem Renouf, 1978- 79). Bridges have been a striking metaphor. Harold Thomas, 1959-60, urged Rotarians to "Build Bridges of Friendship"; William Walk, 1970- 71, created "Bridge the Gap"; and Hiroji Mukasa, 1982-83, declared "Mankind is One-Build Bridges of Friendship Throughout the World."

A worldwide focus was given by Stan McCaffrey in 1981-82 with the message, "World Understanding and Peace Through Rotary," and again in 1984-85 by Carlos Canseco who urged Rotarians to "Discover a New World of Service." In other years, the individual was emphasized, as "You Are Rotary" (Edd McLaughlin, 1960-61), "Goodwill Begins With You" (Ernst Breitholtz, 1971-72) and "You Are the Key" (Ed Cadman, 1985- 86). Frequently the theme urges Rotarians to become more involved in their club, such as "Share Rotary-Serve People" (Bill Skelton, 1983- 84) or "Make Your Rotary Membership Effective" (Luther Hodges, 1967- 68). But whether you "Review and Renew," "Take a New Look," "Let Service Light the Way" or "Dignify the Human Being," it is clear that the RI president provides Rotarians with an important annual program of emphasis. In 1986-87, President M.A.T. Caparas selected the inspiring message that "Rotary Brings Hope."

Charles Keller in 1987-88 saw "Rotarians-United in Service, Dedicated to Peace," while Royce Abbey asked his fellow members in 1988-89 to "Put Life into Rotary-Your Life." Hugh Archer (1989-90) urged us to "Enjoy Rotary!" and Paulo Costa (1990-91) asked that we "Honor Rotary with Faith and Enthusiasm." My predecessor Raja Saboo (1991-92) exhorted every Rotarian to "Look Beyond Yourself." In 1992- 93, I reminded Rotarians, "Real Happiness Is Helping Others," and in 1993-94, Bob Barth counseled Rotarians, "Believe In What You Do and Do What You Believe In." In 1994-95, Bill Huntley encouraged Rotarians to "Be A Friend" to their communities.


One of the interesting bylaws of Rotary International provides that "no Rotarian shall campaign, canvass or electioneer for elective position in Rotary International." This provision includes the office of district governor, Rotary International director, RI president and various elected committees. The Rotary policy prohibits the circulation of brochures, literature or letters by a candidate or by anyone on behalf of such a candidate.

After a Rotarian has indicated his intention to be a candidate for one of the elective Rotary offices, he must refrain from speaking engagements, appearances or publicity which could reasonably be construed as furthering his candidacy. The only information which may be sent to clubs relating to candidates for an elective position is that officially distributed by the general secretary of RI.

A Rotarian who becomes a candidate for an elective position, such as district governor or RI director, must avoid any action which would be interpreted as giving him an unfair advantage over other candidates. Failure to comply with these provisions prohibiting campaigning could result in the disqualification of the candidate.

In Rotary it is believed that a Rotarian's record of service and qualifications for office stand on their own and do not require publicity or special promotion.

Copyright (c) Rotary International. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission


(From the Rotary publication The ABCs of Rotary)


Some magnificent projects grow from very small seeds. The Rotary Foundation had that sort of modest beginning.

In 1917 RI President Arch Klumph told the delegates to the Atlanta Convention that "it seems eminently proper that we should accept endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world." The response was polite and favorable, but the fund was slow to materialize. A year later the "Rotary Endowment Fund," as it was first labeled, received its first contribution of $26.50 from the Rotary Club of Kansas City, which was the balance of the Kansas City Convention account following the 1918 annual meeting. Additional small amounts were annually contributed, but after six years it is reported that the endowment fund had only reached $700. A decade later, The Rotary Foundation was formally established at the 1928 Minneapolis Convention. In the next four years the Foundation fund grew to $50,000. In 1937 a $2 million goal was announced for The Rotary Foundation, but these plans were cut short and abandoned with the outbreak of World War II.

In 1947, upon the death of Paul Harris, a new era opened for The Rotary Foundation as memorial gifts poured in to honor the founder of Rotary. From that time, The Rotary Foundation has been achieving its noble objective of furthering "understanding and friendly relations between peoples of different nations." By 1954 the Foundation received for the first time a half million dollars in contributions in a single year, and in 1965 a million dollars was received.

It is staggering to imagine that from those humble beginnings, The Rotary Foundation is now receiving more than $45 million each year for educational and humanitarian work around the world.


The Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarships Program is the world's largest privately funded international scholarships program. In 1947, 18 "Rotary Fellows" from 11 countries were selected to serve as ambassadors of goodwill while studying in another country for one academic year. Since that time, approximately $242 million has been expended on some 25,000 scholarships for people from more than 125 countries, studying in 105 countries around the world.

The purpose of the Scholarships Program is to further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries. Scholars are expected to be outstanding ambassadors of goodwill to the people of the host country through both informal and formal appearances before Rotary and non-Rotary groups.

Beginning with the 1994-95 program year, The Rotary Foundation offers two new types of scholarships in addition to the Academic-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship offered since 1947. The Multi-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship is awarded for two or three years of specific degree-oriented study abroad. The Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarship provides three or six months of funding for intensive language study and cultural immersion in a language other than their native language.

Rotarians know that Rotary Foundation scholarships are very worthwhile investments in the future and one important step in seeking greater understanding and goodwill in the world.


One of the most popular and rewarding programs of The Rotary Foundation is the Group Study Exchange. Since the first exchange between districts in California and Japan in 1965, the program has provided educational experiences for about 25,000 business and professional men and women who have served on about 5,500 teams. The GSE program pairs Rotary districts to send and receive study teams. Since 1965, more than $42 million has been allocated by The Rotary Foundation for Group Study Exchange grants.

One of the attractive features of GSE is the opportunity for the visiting team members to meet, talk and live with Rotarians and their families in a warm spirit of friendship and hospitality. Although the original Group Study Exchanges were male only, in recent years teams include both men and women.

In addition to learning about another country as the team visits farms, schools, industrial plants, professional offices and governmental establishments, the GSE teams serve as ambassadors of goodwill. They interpret their home nation to host Rotarians and others in the communities in which they visit. Many of the personal contacts blossom into lasting friendships.

Truly, the Group Study Exchange program has provided Rotarians with one of its most enjoyable, practical and meaningful ways to promote world understanding.


In 1978, Rotary launched its most comprehensive humanitarian service activity with the Health, Hunger and Humanity Program. The 3-H Program is designed to undertake large-scale service projects beyond the capacity of individual Rotary clubs or groups of clubs.

By 1994, more than 135 different 3-H projects have been approved and undertaken in 49 different countries, with an appropriation at more than $37 million. The objective of these projects is to improve health, alleviate hunger and enhance human, cultural and social development among peoples of the world. The ultimate goal is to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace.

The first 3-H project was the immunization of 6 million children in the Philippines against polio. As 3-H progressed, new programs were added to help people in developing areas of the world. Now, in addition to the mass polio immunization of over 100 million children in various countries, 3-H has promoted nutrition programs, vocational education, improved irrigation to increase food production, polio victim rehabilitation and other activities which benefit large numbers of people in developing countries. All 3-H projects are supported by the voluntary contributions of Rotarians through The Rotary Foundation. In years to come the 3-H Program may well be considered Rotary's finest service activity, showing how Rotarians care and are concerned about people in need, wherever they may be.


Among the programs of The Rotary Foundation are the Matching Grants that assist Rotary clubs and districts in conducting international service projects. Since 1965, more than 3,700 grants have been awarded for projects in about 135 countries with awards of more than $23 million.

A club or district must contribute an amount at least as large as that requested from The Rotary Foundation with at least half the funds that the Foundation will match coming from a country outside of the country where the project will take place. Grants have been made to improve hospitals, develop school programs, drill water wells, assist the handicapped or persons requiring special medical attention, provide resources for orphanages, create sanitation facilities, distribute food and medical supplies and many other forms of international community service in needy areas of the world. Some grants are for projects in the magnitude of from $15,000 to $50,000, but most are in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.

Matching Grants are not approved to purchase land or build buildings, and they may not be used for programs already underway or completed. Personal participation by Rotarians is required and the benefits should extend beyond the recipients.

The Matching Grants program is a very significant part of The Rotary Foundation and provides an important incentive for clubs to undertake worthwhile international service projects in another part of the world. They certainly foster goodwill and understanding, which is in keeping with the objectives of The Rotary Foundation.


PolioPlus is Rotary's massive effort to eradicate poliomyelitis from the world by the year 2005. It is part of a global effort to protect the children from five other deadly diseases as well-the "plus" in PolioPlus. The program was launched in 1985 with fund- raising as a primary focus. The original goal was to raise $120 million. By 1988, Rotarians of the world had raised more than $219 million in cash and pledges. By 1994, the cash total exceeded $246 million! These gifts have enabled The Rotary Foundation to make grants to provide a five-year supply of vaccine for any developing country requesting it to protect its children. Grants have been made to nearly 100 countries-a commitment, thus far, of $181 million to buy vaccine and to improve vaccine quality.

In 1988, the World Health Organization adopted a goal of eradicating polio throughout the world by the year 2000, and Rotary has endorsed that goal, hoping to celebrate a polio-free world in its own 100th anniversary year, 2005. Achieving eradication will be difficult (only one other disease, smallpox, has ever been eradicated) and expensive (estimated cost to the international community is nearly $2 billion). It will require continuing immunization of children worldwide, and it also must include systematic reporting of all suspected cases, community-wide vaccination to contain outbreaks of the disease, and establishment of laboratory networks. Rotary will not be alone in all these efforts but in partnership with national governments, the World and Pan American Health Organizations, UNICEF and others. Rotary's "people power" gives us a special "hands on" role. Rotarians in developing countries have given thousands of hours and countless in-kind gifts to help eradication happen in their countries.

No other nongovernmental organization ever has made a commitment of the scale of PolioPlus. Truly it may be considered the greatest humanitarian service the world has ever seen. Every Rotarian can share the pride of that achievement!


A special program of The Rotary Foundation was originally labeled the "Rotary Peace Forum." The concept of a center or educational program to promote greater understanding and peace in the world was originally discussed in 1982 by the New Horizons Committee and the World Understanding and Peace Committee. In 1984 it was further explored by a New Programs Committee of The Rotary Foundation.

The essence of the Rotary Peace Program is to utilize the non- governmental but worldwide resources of Rotary to develop educational programs around the issues that cause conflict among nations in the world as well as those influences and activities which promote peace, development and goodwill. The program includes seminars, publications or conferences as a means to initiate a global dialogue to find new approaches to peace and world understanding.

Specific Rotary Peace Programs are selected annually by the trustees of The Rotary Foundation. Many peace programs are held in conjunction with presidential conferences.


Undoubtedly the most important step to promote voluntary giving to The Rotary Foundation occurred in 1957, when the idea of Paul Harris Fellow recognition was first proposed. Although the concept of making $1,000 gifts to the Foundation was slow in developing, by the early 1970s it began to gain popularity. The distinctive Paul Harris Fellow medallion, lapel pin and attractive certificate have become highly respected symbols of a substantial financial commitment to The Rotary Foundation by Rotarians and friends around the world.

The companion to the Paul Harris Fellow is the Paul Harris Sustaining Member, which is the recognition presented to an individual who has given, or in whose honor a gift is made, a contribution of $100, with the stated intention of making additional contributions until $1,000 is reached. At that time the Paul Harris Sustaining Member becomes a Paul Harris Fellow.

By 1994, more than 450,000 Paul Harris Fellows and 160,000 Sustaining Members have been added to the rolls of The Rotary Foundation.

A special recognition pin is given to Paul Harris Fellows who make additional gifts of $1,000 to the Foundation. The distinctive gold pin includes a blue stone to represent each $1,000 contribution up to a total of $5,000 in additional gifts.

Paul Harris recognition provides a very important incentive for the continuing support needed to underwrite the many programs of The Rotary Foundation which build goodwill and understanding in the world.


Two very special awards of recognition occasionally are presented by the trustees of The Rotary Foundation to Rotarians who render outstanding service to The Rotary Foundation. The Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service recognizes significant and dedicated service by a Rotarian to promote the programs of The Rotary Foundation and thus advance the Foundation's goal of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world.

The second award, called the Distinguished Service Award, is presented to a Rotarian whose outstanding record of service to The Rotary Foundation is on a much broader basis and spreads beyond the district level and continues over an extended period of time. The Distinguished Service Award acknowledges the sustained efforts of a Rotarian who has already received the Citation of Meritorious Service, for continuing efforts to promote international understanding.

Both of these select awards are presented for exemplary personal service and devotion to the Foundation rather than for financial contributions. No more than 50 such awards are granted by the trustees in any one year and there is only one recipient of a Citation for Meritorious Service in any district each year. A recipient of the Citation for Meritorious Service is not eligible for nomination for a Distinguished Service Award until two or more years have elapsed.

It is a very proud distinction for any Rotarian to be selected for one of these high levels of recognition by The Rotary Foundation trustees.


Historically Rotarians perpetuated a myth that Rotary should not seek publicity, but rather let our good works speak for themselves. A 1923 policy stating that "publicity should not be the primary goal of a Rotary club in selecting an activity" of community service, was frequently interpreted to mean that Rotary clubs should avoid publicity and public relations efforts. Actually, the 1923 statement further observed that "as a means of extending Rotary's influence, proper publicity should be given to a worthwhile project well carried out."

A more modern public relations philosophy was adopted in the mid- 1970s which affirms that "good publicity, favorable public relations and a positive image are desirable and essential goals for Rotary" if it is to foster understanding, appreciation and support for its Object and programs and to broaden Rotary's service to humanity. Active public relations is vital to the success of Rotary.

A service project well carried out is considered one of the finest public relations messages of Rotary. It is essential that Rotary clubs make every effort to inform the public about their service projects which have been well performed.

As Rotary clubs and districts consider effective public relations, it is important to remember that when Rotarians think of Rotary, we think of our noble goals and motives. But when the world thinks of Rotary, it can only think of our actions and the service we have performed.


The Rotary International emblem is officially registered with the U.S. Patent Office as a trademark and "service mark," which prevents it being used in improper ways or by unauthorized individuals. The Rotary emblem should not be altered or modified in any way.

Rotarians are encouraged to wear the emblem as a lapel button. It is frequently used on jackets, pens, caps and other personal items manufactured by firms or individuals licensed by the RI Board of Directors. Rotary badges, banners, road signs and official Rotary club stationery naturally use the emblem as a mark of identification.

The Rotary emblem cannot be used for any commercial purpose. It is not permissible to use it in a political campaign or in connection with any other name or emblem not recognized by Rotary International. Individual Rotarians should not use the Rotary emblem on business cards or stationery or for any other use intended to promote business. Nor is it considered proper for Rotarians to use the emblem on doors or windows of their business premises.

It is the responsibility of all Rotarians to use the emblem with pride. The restrictions are provided to assure that the Rotary emblem will not be misused and that it will always bring distinction to the organization.


In the annual Rotary calendar several months are designated to emphasize major programs of Rotary International.

·        January is Rotary Awareness Month. This is a time to expand knowledge of Rotary and its activities among our membership and throughout the community.

·        February is designated as World Understanding Month. This month was chosen because it includes the birthday of Rotary International, February 23. During the month, Rotary clubs are urged to present programs which promote international understanding and goodwill, as well as launch World Community Service projects in other parts of the world.

·        World Rotaract Week is the week in which March 13 falls. It's a time when Rotary clubs and districts highlight Rotaract by joining in projects with their Rotaract clubs.

·        April is set aside as Rotary's Magazine Month. Throughout the month, clubs arrange programs and activities which promote the reading and use of The Rotarian magazine and the official regional magazines of Rotary.

·        August is Membership and Extension Month, a time to focus on Rotary's continuing need for growth, to seek new members and form new clubs.

·        September is Youth Activities Month. Rotary clubs of the world give special emphasis to the many Rotary-sponsored programs which serve children and young people. During this month many clubs give increased attention to youth exchange activities.

·        October is Vocational Service Month. During this period, clubs highlight the importance of the business and professional life of each Rotarian. Special activities promote the vocational avenue of service.

·        November is selected to be Rotary Foundation Month. Clubs and districts call attention to the programs of The Rotary Foundation and frequently cultivate additional financial support for the Foundation by promoting contributions for Paul Harris Fellows and Sustaining Members.

Each of these special months serves to elevate the awareness among Rotarians of some of the excellent programs of service which occur within the world of Rotary.


Every 14 hours of every day a new Rotary club is chartered in one of the more than 150 countries in which Rotary exists. This steady growth in new clubs is extremely important in extending the worldwide programs and influence of Rotary International. New Rotary clubs may be established anywhere in the world where the fundamental principles of Rotary may be freely observed and wherever it can reasonably be expected that a successful club can be maintained.

A club must be organized to serve a specific "locality," or clearly identified territory in which there are enough business or professional persons of good character engaged in proprietary or management positions. A minimum of 40 potential classifications is necessary for a proposed new club, and from that list a permanent membership of at least 25 members must be enrolled. Occasionally an existing club will cede a portion of its territory or will share the same territory with a new club.

In the process of organizing a new club the first step is to conduct a survey of the locality to determine the potential for new club extension. The district governor's special representative guides the organization of the new club. Among the requirements for a new club is the adoption of the Standard Rotary Club Constitution, a minimum of 25 charter members with clearly established classifications, payment of a charter fee, weekly meetings of the provisional club and the adoption of a club name which will distinctly identify it with its locality. A provisional club becomes a Rotary club when its charter is approved by the board of Rotary International.

It is a great opportunity and special duty of all Rotarians to assist and cooperate in organizing new clubs. Knowing that two new Rotary clubs will be chartered someplace in the world today, tomorrow and every day provides a strong endorsement of the vitality and extension of Rotary service throughout the world.

Copyright (c) Rotary International. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.