Rotary International is a worldwide network of inspired men and women who translate their passions into relevant social causes, to change lives in communities.
Made up of over 1.2 million Rotary members - known as Rotarians - in 34,000 Rotary clubs in 200 countries and geographical areas around the world, Rotary International forms a global network of business, professional and community leaders who volunteer their time and talents to serve communities locally and around the world - and form strong, lasting friendships in the process.
Rotary is a secular organisation open to all persons regardless of race, colour, creed, gender, or political preference.
The first Rotary Club was formed in Chicago in 1905. The founder, lawyer Paul P Harris, had a vision to form a club that would encourage fellowship amongst members of the business community, an idea originating from his desire to find the kind of friendly spirit he had known in the villages where he had grown up. Word of the small club soon spread and other businessmen were invited to join and the name "Rotary" was derived from the early practice of rotating meetings amongst members' offices. Rotary has adopted the motto of Service Above Self to make it an organisation which is still relevant in the 21st century.
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.
The origins of the administrative body Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland effectively began in 1914. At this time, after Rotary had moved across the Atlantic to Great Britain and Ireland, the British Association of Rotary Clubs was formed. During World War 1, there was little contact between the international clubs and the British Association held the small number of Rotary clubs together in Britain and Ireland with a few other European communities.
Following the war, a new Rotary regulation came into place whereby countries that had more than 25 clubs could apply to be a 'territorial unit' and be represented on the Rotary International board. The clubs in the British Isles were the only ones to apply and Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) was formed.
Shortly afterwards, the territorial unit concept was dropped, yet existing units were allowed to keep their rights and privileges. RIBI continues to function as an independent unit, a part of - not apart from - Rotary International.
By 1921 the organisation was represented on every continent and the name Rotary International was adopted in 1922.
Rotary is known for it's efforts to assist in its own community and to help that community's less fortunate members; for its concern for the quality of life and for the help it gives to various charitable causes; for its support of community based activities at a local level. These activities and many similar ones are not only great fun to organize but enable members to develop skills which may not be used in their day to day work.
Another facet of Rotary, rarely acknowledged even by its members but of great importance to the individual, is the opportunity it provides for members to broaden their experience, to express themselves with clarity, to learn the art of leadership and to enhance their role as responsible citizens and to form lasting friendships.
Rotary exists in more than 40 countries and has as one of its aims "to further the establishment of peace and goodwill in international relationships". As a result many Rotary Clubs in this country have links or are "twinned" with overseas Clubs with which exchange visits are arranged on a regular basis.
In addition Rotary supports a number of community service projects, particularly those in Africa and Asia, which are supported by Rotary Clubs in this country.
For information about Rotary International visit the Rotary International website at http://www.rotary.org
Most Rotary Clubs now meet in the evening on a weekly basis. The programme is varied, ranging from meetings with speakers on topical matters or matters of local concern to a wide range of activity based meetings such as bowling, sailing etc. Within the broad framework of the rules of Rotary International all Clubs organise their own programme and make their own decisions on the community service activities which best suit their own localities. Each Club also organises a variety of social activities for members and their partners.
History of The Rotary Foundation
At the 1917 convention, outgoing RI President Arch C. Klumph proposed to set up an endowment “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” In 1928, it was renamed The Rotary Foundation, and it became a distinct entity within Rotary International.
Growth of the Foundation
In 1929, the Foundation made its first gift of $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children. The organization, created by Rotarian Edgar F. “Daddy” Allen, later grew into Easter Seals.
When Rotary founder Paul Harris died in 1947, contributions began pouring in to Rotary International, and the Paul Harris Memorial Fund was created to build the Foundation.
Evolution of Foundation programs
The Foundation established its first program, Fellowships for Advance Study, later known as Ambassadorial Scholarships.
Three programs were launched: Group Study Exchange, Awards for Technical Training, and Grants for Activities in Keeping with the Objective of The Rotary Foundation, which was later called Matching Grants.
Rotary introduced the Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Grants. The first 3-H Grant funded a project to immunize 6 million Philippine children against polio.
The PolioPlus program was launched to eradicate polio worldwide.
The first peace forums were held, leading to Rotary Peace Fellowships.
New district, global, and packaged grants enable Rotarians around the world to respond to the world’s greatest needs.
Since the first donation of $26.50 in 1917, the Foundation has received contributions totaling more than $1 billion.
Meets each Thursday
6.30 p.m. for 6.45 p.m. at
The Village Hotel, Newcastle
Cobalt Business Park,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
Telephone: 0191 2706491
Getting involved could be the most important thing you ever do.
Your skills and experience are invaluable in our drive to help communities at home and abroad through our volunteer work.
By becoming a Rotary member your time and abilities will be help to make people's lives better.
If you'd like to become a member, please use our contact form