|Motto||Service Above Self|
|Headquarters||Evanston, Illinois, United States|
|Official language||English,Sinhala,Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Korean, Tamil and Japanese.|
|President||Gary C.K. Huang (2014–15)|
|Key people||Paul P. Harris (Founder)|
Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. It is a secular organization open to all persons regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are 34,282 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide. The members of Rotary Clubs are known as Rotarians. Members usually meet weekly for breakfast, lunch or dinner, which is a social event as well as an opportunity to organize work on their service goals.
Rotary's primary motto is "Service Above Self"; a secondary motto, "One profits most who serves best"
The object of Rotary is to encourage & foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
- The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
- 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;
- The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life;
- The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
This objective is set against the "Rotary 4-way Test", used to see if a planned action is compatible with the Rotarian spirit. The test was developed by Rotarian and entrepreneur Herbert J. Taylor during the Great Depression as a set of guidelines for restoring faltering businesses and was adopted as the standard of ethics by Rotary in 1942. It is still seen as a standard for ethics in business management:
The 4-Way Test considers the following questions in respect to thinking, saying or doing:
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
The first years of the Rotary Club
The first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul P. Harris called together a meeting of three business acquaintances in downtown Chicago, at Harris' friend Gustave E. Loehr's office in the Unity Building on Dearborn Street on February 23, 1905. In addition to Harris and Loehr (a mining engineer and freemason), Silvester Schiele (a coal merchant), and Hiram E. Shorey (a tailor) were the other two who attended this first meeting. The members chose the name Rotary because initially they rotated subsequent weekly club meetings to each other's offices, although within a year, the Chicago club became so large it became necessary to adopt the now-common practice of a regular meeting place.
The next four Rotary Clubs were organized in cities in the western United States, beginning with San Francisco, thenOakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The National Association of Rotary Clubs in America was formed in 1910. On 22 February 1911, the first meeting of the Rotary Club Dublin was held in Dublin, Ireland. This was the first club established outside of North America. In April 1912, Rotary chartered a club in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, marking the first establishment of an American-style service club outside the United States. To reflect the addition of a club outside of the United States, the name was changed to the International Association of Rotary Clubs in 1912.
In August 1912, the Rotary Club of London received its charter from the Association, marking the first acknowledged Rotary club outside North America. It later became known that the Dublin club in Ireland was organized before the London club, but the Dublin club did not receive its charter until after the London club was chartered.
World War II Europe
Clubs were disbanded across Europe as follows:
- Austria (1938)
- Italy (1939)
- Czechoslovakia (1940)
- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Yugoslavia and Luxembourg (1941)
- Hungary (1941/1942)
- In The Netherlands, Rotary was forbidden after the occupation by the German troops in 1940 and could only be reinstalled after the liberation in 1945
From 1945 onwards
Rotary clubs in Eastern Europe and other communist-regime nations were disbanded by 1945-46, but new Rotary clubs were organized in many other countries, and by the time of the national independence movements in Africa and Asia, the new nations already had Rotary clubs. After the relaxation of government control of community groups in Russia and former Soviet satellite nations, Rotarians were welcomed as club organizers, and clubs were formed in those countries, beginning with the Moscow club in 1990.
In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program to immunize all of the world's children against polio. As of 2011, Rotary has contributed more than 900 million US dollars to the cause, resulting in the immunization of nearly two billion children worldwide.
As of 2006, Rotary has more than 1.2 million members in over 32,000 clubs among 200 countries and geographical areas, making it the most widespread by branches and second largest service club by membership, behind Lions Club International. The number of Rotarians has slightly declined in recent years: Between 2002 and 2006, they went from 1,245,000 to 1,223,000 members. North America accounts for 450,000 members, Asia for 300,000, Europe for 250,000, Latin America for 100,000, Oceania for 100,000 and Africa for 30,000.
Rotary International Presidents 2001–present
- Richard D. King (2001–2002)
- Bhichai Rattakul (2002–2003)
- Jonathan B. Majiyagbe (2003–2004)
- Glenn E. Estess, Sr. (2004–2005)
- Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar (2005–2006)
- William Boyd (2006–2007)
- Wilfrid J. Wilkinson (2007–2008)
- Dong Kurn Lee (2008–2009)
- John Kenny (2009–2010)
- Ray Klinginsmith (2010–2011)
- Kalyan Banerjee (2011–2012)
- Sakuji Tanaka (2012–2013)
- Ron D. Burton (2013–2014)
- Gary C.K. Huang (2014-Present Day)
Organization and administration
In order to carry out its service programs, Rotary is structured in club, district and international levels. Rotarians are members of their clubs. The clubs are chartered by the global organisation Rotary International (RI) headquartered in Evanston, Illinois. For administrative purposes, the more than 32,000 clubs worldwide are grouped into 529 districts, and the districts into 34 zones.
The Rotary Club is the basic unit of Rotary activity, and each club determines its own membership. Clubs originally were limited to a single club per city, municipality, or town, but Rotary International has encouraged the formation of one or more additional clubs in the largest cities when practical. Most clubs meet weekly, usually at a mealtime on a weekday in a regular location, when Rotarians can discuss club business and hear from guest speakers.
Each club also conducts various service projects within its local community, and participates in special projects involving other clubs in the local district, and occasionally a special project in a “sister club” in another nation. Most clubs also hold social events at least quarterly and in some cases more often. Each club elects its own president and officers among its active members for a one-year term. The clubs enjoy considerable autonomy within the framework of the standard constitution and the constitution and bylaws of Rotary International.
The governing body of the club is the Club Board, consisting of the club president (who serves as the Board chairman), a president-elect, club secretary, club treasurer, and several Club Board directors, including the immediate past president and the President Elect. The president usually appoints the directors to serve as chairs of the major club committees, including those responsible for club service, vocational service, community service, youth service, and international service.