Saturday, March 25, 2006

What is Rotary International?

Rotary International is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 31,000 Rotary clubs located in 167 countries.

Rotary International History
The Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, the world's first service club was formed on 23rd of February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name "Rotary" derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices. Rotary's popularity spread throughout the United States in the decade that followed; clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents, and the organization adopted the name Rotary International a year later. As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving the professional and social interests of club members. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. The organization's dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its principal motto: Service Above Self. Rotary also later embraced a code of ethics, called The 4-Way Test, that has been translated into hundreds of languages.During and after World War II, Rotarians became increasingly involved in promoting international understanding.

The Rotary International Foundation (Separate from the Foundation of the Rotary Club of New York)
An endowment fund, set up by Rotarians in 1917 "for doing good in the world," became a not-for-profit corporation known as The Rotary Foundation in 1928. Upon the death of Paul Harris in 1947, an outpouring of Rotarian donations made in his honor, totaling US$2 million, launched the Foundation's first program — graduate fellowships, now called Ambassadorial Scholarships. Today, contributions to The Rotary Foundation total more than US$80 million annually and support a wide range of humanitarian grants and educational programs that enable Rotarians to bring hope and promote international understanding throughout the world. In 1985, Rotary made a historic commitment to immunize all of the world's children against polio. Working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations and national governments thorough its PolioPlus program, Rotary is the largest private-sector contributor to the global polio eradication campaign. Rotarians have mobilized hundreds of thousands of PolioPlus volunteers and have immunized more than one billion children worldwide. By the 2005 target date for certification of a polio-free world, Rotary will have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause.As it approached the dawn of the 21st century, Rotary worked to meet the changing needs of society, expanding its service effort to address such pressing issues as environmental degradation, illiteracy, world hunger, and children at risk.

The organization admitted women for the first time (worldwide) in 1989 and claims more than 145,000 women in its ranks today. Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Rotary clubs were formed or re-established throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Today, 1.2 million Rotarians belong to some 31,000 Rotary clubs in 172 countries.

Rotary International Milestones

  • 1905 First Rotary club organized in Chicago, Illinois, USA1905
  • Second club formed in San Francisco, .
  • Rotary Club of New York organized in 1909,
  • First Rotary convention held in Chicago1912.
  • The Rotary Club of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, becomes the first club outside the United States to be officially chartered. (The club was formed in 1910.)
  • 1917 Endowment fund, forerunner of The Rotary Foundation, established
  • 1932 Four-Way Test formulated by Chicago Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor
  • 1945 Forty-nine Rotarians help draft United Nations Charter in San Francisco
  • 1947 Rotary founder Paul Harris dies;
  • 1947 First 18 Rotary Foundation scholarships granted
  • 1962 First Interact club formed in Melbourne, Florida, USA
  • 1965 Rotary Foundation launches Matching Grants and Group Study Exchange programs
  • 1978 RI's largest convention, with 39,834 registrants, held in Tokyo
  • 1985 Rotary announces PolioPlus program to immunize all the children of the world against polio
  • 1989 Council on Legislation opens Rotary membership to women worldwide
  • 1989 Rotary clubs chartered in Budapest, Hungary, and Warsaw, Poland, for first time in almost 50 years
  • 1990 Rotary Club of Moscow chartered first club in Soviet Union
  • 1990-91Preserve Planet Earth program inspires some 2,000 Rotary-sponsored environmental projects1994Western Hemisphere declared polio-free
  • 1999 Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution established
  • 2000 Western Pacific declared polio-free 2002 Europe declared polio-free; first class of 70 Rotary Peace Scholars begin study
  • 2003 Rotarians raise more than US$118 million to support the final stages of polio eradication

Rotary International Administration

Rotary is organized at club, district, and international levels to carry out its program of service. Rotarians are members of their clubs, and the clubs are members of the global association known as Rotary International. Each club elects its own officers and enjoys considerable autonomy within the framework of the standard constitution and the constitution and bylaws of Rotary International. Clubs are grouped into 529 Rotary districts, each led by a district governor who is an officer of Rotary International and represents the RI board of directors in the field. Though selected by the clubs of the district, a governor is elected by all of the clubs worldwide meeting in the RI Convention. A 19-member board of directors, which includes the international president and president-elect, administers Rotary International. These officers are also elected at the convention; the selection process for choosing directors and the nominating committee for president are based on zones, each of which comprises approximately 15 districts. The board meets quarterly to establish policies. While the Rotary International president is the highest officer of RI, the chief administrative officer of RI is the general secretary, who heads a staff of about 600 persons working at the international headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, USA, or in one of seven international offices around the world.

Object of Rotary
The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster: FIRST. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; SECOND. High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society; THIRD. The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life; FOURTH. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service. The Four-Way Test From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world's most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is

The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:
"Of the things we think, say or do:

  • Is it the TRUTH?
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  • Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"

Four Avenues of Service

Based on the Object of Rotary, the Four Avenues of Service are Rotary's philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on which club activity is based:

  1. Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club.
  2. Vocational Service encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practice high ethical standards.
  3. Community Service covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community.
  4. International Service encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary's humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.

    R.I. Mission Statement
    The mission of Rotary International is to support its member clubs in fulfilling the Object of Rotary by: Fostering unity among member clubs; Strengthening and expanding Rotary around the world; Communicating worldwide the work of Rotary; and Providing a system of international administration.

    History of Rotary Youth Exchange
    Since 1927, students and host families all over the world have had their horizons broadened and their lives enriched by the generosity of Rotary's Youth Exchange program. Administered by Rotary clubs, districts and multidistrict groups, the program today involves more than 82 countries and over 8,000 students each year.The first documented exchanges date back to 1927, when the Rotary Club of Nice, France, initiated exchanges with European students. Exchanges between clubs in California, USA, and Latin American countries began in 1939, and exchange activities spread to the eastern United States in 1958. In 1972, the RI Board of Directors agreed to recommend Youth Exchange to clubs worldwide as a worthwhile international activity that promotes global peace and understanding.


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