About Rotary

The world’s first service club was the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA.  The club was formed on 23 February 1905 by lawyer Paul Harris and three friends – a merchant, a coal dealer and a mining engineer.  Harris wished to recapture the friendly spirit among business people in the small town where he grew up.  The name “Rotary” was derived from the early practice of “rotating” meetings among the members’ offices.


The main objective of Rotary is service – in the community, in the workplace and throughout the world.  Rotary volunteers build goodwill and peace, provide humanitarian service and encourage high ethical standards in all vocations. The Rotary motto is “Service above Self”.


Rotary members are professional men and women who work as volunteers to improve the quality of life in their home and world community.  Club membership represents a cross-section of local business and professional leaders.  Rotary clubs meet weekly and are non-political, non-religious and open to all cultures, races and creeds. There are now (2015) approximately 1.21 million Rotary club members working in 34,600 clubs in 220 countries and geographic regions.

 Service Today

Rotary volunteers initiate community projects that address many of today’s most critical issues such as violence, drug abuse, youth, AIDS, hunger, the environment and illiteracy. Rotary clubs are autonomous and determine service projects based on local needs.  They are encouraged to develop projects that address specific areas of need such as children at risk, disabled persons, the aged, health care, international understanding and goodwill, literacy and numeracy, population issues, poverty and hunger, the environment and urban concerns. Rotary members work with and for youth to address challenges facing young people.  Through participation in Rotary sponsored Interact clubs (for secondary schools), Rotaract clubs (for young adults) and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, young people worldwide learn leadership skills and the importance of community service. Rotary volunteers have a history of building safe communities and working for peace.  In places where urban violence is rampant, Rotary’s community-based network helps to prevent unrest.  Rotary sponsored violence prevention projects and conferences address the root causes of violence such as drug abuse, poverty and lack of role models.

 Rotary’s Areas of Focus

The needs spanning Rotary’s six areas of focus are vast, ranging from lack of access to clean water to the need for immunisation to prevent deadly diseases. Rotary clubs serve communities around the world, each with unique concerns and needs. Rotarians have continually adapted and improved the way they respond to those needs, taking on a broad range of service projects. The most successful and sustainable Rotary service tends to fall within one of the following six areas:

  • Peace and conflict prevention/resolution
  • Disease prevention and treatment
  • Water and sanitation
  • Maternal and child health
  • Basic education and literacy
  • Economic and community development
 The 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 Rotary “Wheel” Logo

ri new logo yellow_3The familiar Rotary “gearwheel” emblem universally identifies Rotary clubs, programs and members throughout the world.  After remaining unchanged for 90 years, the present single colour version was adopted in 2013 as part of Rotary International rebranding. The logo is protected by trademark and other intellectual property laws.  Use of the emblem is restricted to official stationery, badges and signage associated with authorised Rotary programs and activities. The Rotary emblem must be used in its entirety without any additions, deletions, colour change or other variation to the adopted design.  The emblem cannot be used to promote a member’s personal or business interests.  Further information on use of the emblem is contained in the Rotary International Manual of Procedure.