Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.

Our ongoing commitment

Rotarians have not only been present for major events in history—we’ve been a part of them. From the beginning, three key traits have remained strong throughout Rotary:

We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today we’re working together from around the globe both digitally and in-person to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.

We persevere in tough times. During WWII, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Japan were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally and following the war’s end, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.

Our commitment to service is ongoing. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By 2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down from 125 in 1988.

For more information about Rotary International, please visit our website– rotary.org.

The Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation of RI is a not-for-profit corporation that receives contributions totaling more than US $70 million annually and distributes some $65 million each year in support of humanitarian and educational programs implemented by clubs and districts. Contributions for Rotarians go into both the Foundation’s Annual Programs Fund, which provides grants and awards through Foundation programs, and the Permanent Fund, an endowment from which only the earnings are spend in support of Foundation programs. This ensures the long-term viability of the Foundation.
Every dollar contributed by Rotarians funds humanitarian and educational programs that enable Rotarians to extend their service internationally. Clubs and districts apply for and receive Foundation grants to carry our many worthy projects worldwide. The Rotary Foundation’s mission is to support the efforts of Rotary International in the fulfillment of the Object of Rotary, Rotary’s mission, and the achievement of world understanding and peace through local, national and international humanitarian, educational and cultural programs.
 

End Polio Now

 
Polio. Poliomyelitis (polio) is a crippling and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in parts of the world. The poliovirus invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours. It can strike at any age but mainly affects children under five.
 

Polio Today. Today, there are only three countries that have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Fewer than 250 polio cases were reported worldwide in 2012, which is a 99% reduction since the 1980s, when the world saw about 1,000 cases per day. If we don’t stay the course, experts say polio could rebound to 10 million cases in the next 40 years.

Challenges. The polio cases represented by the remaining one percent are the most difficult to prevent, due to factors including geographical isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed conflict and cultural barriers. Until polio is eradicated, all countries remain at risk of outbreaks.

Ensuring Success. Additional funding will help to end polio now. Thanks to a new campaign, every dollar donated to Rotary will be matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These funds help to provide much-needed operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents. Governments, corporations and private individuals all play a crucial role in funding.

PolioPlus. Rotary launched its PolioPlus program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication, in 1985. Since then, Rotary and its partners have helped reduce the number of annual cases from 350,000 to fewer than 250 and remain committed until every child is safe from the disease. Rotary has contributed more than US$1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2 billion children in 122 countries. In addition, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute over $9 billion to the effort.

Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, formed in 1988, is a public-private partnership including Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness-building.

Rotary in Action. More than one million Rotary members have donated their time and personal resources to end polio. Every year, hundreds of Rotary members work side-by-side with health workers to vaccinate children in polio-affected countries. Rotarians work with partners like UNICEF to prepare and distribute mass communication tools to share the message with those isolated by conflict, geography, or poverty. Rotary members also recruit fellow volunteers, assist with transporting the vaccine, and provide other logistical support.

‘This Close’ Campaign. Rotary has a growing roster of public figures and celebrities participating in the “’This Close’ to ending polio” public awareness campaign, including Bill Gates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archie Panjabi, Jackie Chan, Jack Nicklaus and Psy. These ambassadors help educate the public about polio through public service announcements, social media and public appearances.

 

Service above self.

The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.
 

The Four-Way Test

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?