The world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois,
was formed on February 23, 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney
who wished to recapture in a profession 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. By 1921, Rotary
clubs had been formed on six continents and the organization adopted the name
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
Avenues of Service
Based on the Object of Rotary, the Avenues of Service are Rotary’s philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on which club activity is based:
Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective
functioning of the club.
Vocational Service encourages Rotarians to serve others through
their vocations and to practice high ethical standards.
Community Service covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to
improve life in its community.
International Service encompasses actions taken to expand
Rotary’s humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding
New Generations Service recognizes the positive change implemented by youth and young adults through leadership development activities, service projects and exchange
The Four-Way Test
The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages,
asks the following questions:
Of the things we think, say or do
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 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. See the RI Strategic Plan.
Diversity and Rotary
Rotary International recognizes the value of diversity within individual clubs. Rotary encourages clubs to assess those in their communities who are eligible for membership, under existing membership
guidelines, and to endeavor to include the appropriate range of individuals in their
clubs. A club that reflects its community with
regard to professional and business classification, gender, age,
religion, and ethnicity is a club with the key to its future.