What is Rotary?

Definition of Rotary

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

There are approximately 1.2 million Rotarians members of more than 29,000 Rotary clubs in 160 countries.


Rotary's first day and the years that followed..

February 23, 1905: The airplane had yet to stay aloft more than a few minutes. The first motion picture Theater had not yet opened. Norway and Sweden were peacefully terminating their union. On this particular day, a Chicago lawyer, Paul P. Harris, called three friends to a meeting. What he had in mind was a club that would kindle fellowship among members of the business community. It was an idea that grew from his desire to find within the large city the kind of friendly spirit that lie knew in the villages where he had grown tip.

The four businessmen didn’t decide then and there to call themselves a Rotary club, but their get-together was. in fact, the first meeting of the world’s first Rotary club. As they continued to meet, adding of hers to the group. t hey rotated their meetings among the members’ places of business, hence the name. Soon after the club name was agreed upon, one of the new members suggested a wagon wheel design as the club emblem lt. was t he precursor of the familiar cogwheel emblem now worn by Rotarians around the world. By the end of 1905, the club had 30 members

The second Rotary club was formed in 1908 Half  a continent away from Chicago - in San Francisco, California. It was a much shorter leap across San Francisco Bay to Oakland, California, where the third club was formed others followed in Seattle, Washington, Los Angeles, California, and New York City. New York. Rotary became international in 1910 when a club was formed in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Canada By 1921 the organization was represented on every continent, and the name Rotary International was adopted in 1922.

Object of Rotary

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster

FIRST: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service.

SECOND:  High ethical standards in business and professions. the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society.

THIRD: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarians personal, business and continuity life.

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


The enthusiasm with which Rotarians embraced the ideal of service is evidenced by Rotary's principal motto, "Service Above Self" and its other official precept, "He Profits Most Who Serves Best." The roots of both of these adages, adopted as official mottos at the 1950 RI Convention, can be traced back to the first decade of Rotary's existence, when "He profits most who serves his fellows best and Service not self were both put forth as slogans. In 1989, the RI Council on Legislation designated "Service above Self" as the principal motto.

Avenues of Service

For over seventy years (since 1927), The program of Rotary has been carried out on Four Avenues of Service (originally called channels). These avenues Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service and international service —closely mirror the four parts of the Object of Rotary.

Club Service

Includes the scope of activities that Rotarians undertake in support of their club, such as serving on committees, proposing individuals for membership and meeting attendance requirements

Vocational Service

Focuses on the opportunity that Rotarians have to represent the their professions as well as their efforts to promote vocational awareness and high ethical standards in business. For decades, Rotarians having been applying the Four-Way Test” to their business and personal relationships and in recent years. a ‘Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions’ has given expression to their concern for ethical standards in the workplace. From offering career guidance in high schools, to seeking ways to improve conditions in the workplace, Rotarians and their clubs engage in many different kinds of vocational service.

Community Service

Includes the scope of activities which Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community. Many official Rotary programs are intended to meet community needs, whether it be to promote literacy, help the elderly or disabled, combat urban violence or provide opportunities for local youth.

International Service

Describes the activities that Rotarians undertake to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace. The spread of Rotary clubs across the globe allows for the concerted Rotary support of humanitarian efforts worldwide.

Information on this page taken from the Rotary International Web Site http://www.rotary.org