Definition of Rotary
How do you describe the organization called “Rotary”? There are so many characteristics of a Rotary club as well as the activities of a million Rotarians. There are the features of service, internationality, fellowship, classifications of each vocation, development of goodwill and world understanding, the emphasis of high ethical standards, concern for other people, and many more.
In 1976, the Rotary International Board of Directors was interested in creating a concise definition of the fundamental aspects of Rotary. They turned to the three men who were then serving on RI’s Public Relations Committee and requested that a one-sentence definition of Rotary be prepared. After numerous drafts, the committee presented this definition, which has been used ever since in various Rotary publications:
“Rotary is an organization of business and professional persons united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.”
Those 31 words are worth remembering when someone asks, “What is a Rotary club?”
The Official Rotary Flag
An official flag was formally adopted by Rotary International at the 1929 RI Convention in Dallas, Texas, USA. The Rotary flag consists of a white field with the official wheel emblem emblazoned in gold in the center of the field. The four depressed spaces on the rim of the Rotary wheel are colored royal blue. The words “Rotary” and “International” printed at the top and bottom depressions on the wheel rim are also gold. The shaft in the hub and the keyway of the wheel are white.
The first official Rotary flag reportedly was flown in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, in January 1915. In 1922, a small Rotary flag was carried over the South Pole by Admiral Richard Byrd, a member of the Rotary Club of Winchester, Virginia, USA. Four years later, the admiral carried a Rotary flag in his expedition to the North Pole.
Some Rotary clubs use the official Rotary flag as a banner at club meetings. In these instances, it is appropriate to print the words “Rotary Club” above the wheel symbol and the name of the city, state, or nation below the emblem.
The Rotary flag is always prominently displayed at the World Headquarters as well as at all conventions and official events of Rotary International.
Rotary’s Wheel Emblem
A wheel has been the symbol of Rotary since our earliest days. The first design was made by Chicago Rotarian Montague Bear, an engraver who drew a simple wagon wheel, with a few lines to show dust and motion. The wheel was said to illustrate “Civilization and Movement.” Most of the early clubs had some form of wagon wheel on their publications and letterheads. Finally, in 1922, it was decided that all Rotary clubs should adopt a single design as the exclusive emblem of Rotarians.
Thus, in 1923, the present gear wheel with 24 cogs and six spokes was adopted by the Rotary International Association. A group of engineers advised that the gear wheel was mechanically unsound and would not work without a “keyway” in the center of the gear to attach it to a power shaft. So, in 1923, the keyway was added, and the design which we now know was formally adopted as the official Rotary International emblem.
Many Rotarians consider the Secretariat simply another name for the RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Actually, it is much more. While it does include the World Headquarters, the Secretariat encompasses more than 600 individuals working to make Rotary International run smoothly and effectively. The term describes the entire operations of the general secretary and his staff. The Secretariat also includes seven RI International Offices (formerly called service centers) around the world, all of the staff serving in those offices, as well as all staff assigned to The Rotary Foundation. Its sole purpose is to serve the clubs, districts, and administrative officers of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation. RI World Headquarters, in a building called One Rotary Center in Evanston, is the headquarters of the Secretariat.
- The first Rotary club meeting was in Chicago, Illinois, on 23 February 1905.
- The first regular luncheon meetings were in Oakland, California, chartered in 1909.
- The first Rotary Convention was in Chicago in 1910.
- The first Rotary club outside of the United States was chartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1910.
- The first Rotary club outside of North America was chartered in Dublin, Ireland, in 1911.
- The first Rotary club in a non-English-speaking country was in Havana, Cuba, in 1916.
- The first Rotary club in South America was chartered in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1918.
- The first Rotary club in Asia was chartered in Manila, Philippines, in 1919.
- The first Rotary club in Africa was chartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1921.
- The first Rotary club in Australia was chartered in Melbourne in 1921.
Object of Rotary
In some areas of the world, weekly Rotary club meetings begin with all members standing and reciting the Object of Rotary. This statement, which comes from the constitution of Rotary, is frequently seen on a wall plaque in Rotarians’ offices or places of business.
The Object of Rotary is “to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise.” The statement then lists four areas by which this “ideal of service” is fostered: through the development of acquaintance as the opportunity for service; the promotion of high ethical standards in business and professions; through service in one’s personal, business, and community life; and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace.
Object of Rotary has not always been expressed in this manner. The original constitution of 1906 had three objects: promotion of business interests, promotion of good fellowship, and the advancement of the best interests of the community. By 1910, Rotary had five objects as increased emphasis was given to expanding Rotary. By 1915, there were six objects. In 1918, the objects were rewritten again and reduced to four. Four years later, they had again grown to six and were revised again in 1927.
Finally, at the 1935 Mexico City convention, the six objects were restated and reduced to four. The last major change came in 1951 when the objects were streamlined and changed to a single object, which has four parts.
The first motto of Rotary International, He Profits Most Who Serves Best, was approved at the second Rotary Convention, held in Portland, Oregon, USA, in August 1911. The phrase was first stated by a Chicago Rotarian, Art Sheldon, who made a speech in 1910 that included the remark, “He profits most who serves his fellows best.” At about the same time, Ben Collins, president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, commented that the proper way to organize a Rotary club was through the principle his club had adopted — Service, Not Self. These two slogans, slightly modified, were formally approved to be the official mottoes of Rotary at the 1950 convention in Detroit — He Profits Most Who Serves Best and Service Above Self. The 1989 Council on Legislation established Service Above Self as the principal motto of Rotary, since it best explains the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service.
100 Percent Attendance
Regular attendance is essential to a strong and active Rotary club. The emphasis on attendance is traced back to 1922 when Rotary International announced a worldwide attendance contest that motivated thousands of Rotarians to achieve 100 percent attendance year after year. Many Rotarians take great pride in maintaining their 100 percent record in their own club or by making up at other Rotary club meetings.
Although the bylaws of Rotary require members to attend only 60 percent of all meetings, the custom has emerged in many clubs that 100 percent is the desirable level. Rotary stresses regular attendance because each member represents his or her own business or profession and thus the absence of any member deprives the club of the values of its diversified membership and the personal fellowship of each member. Club directors may determine appropriate reasons for excusing absences. From time to time, proposals have been made to give attendance credit for various reasons or to lower the minimum requirement, but such attempts have not been adopted by the Council on Legislation.
In 2001, the Council approved the creation of a New Models Rotary Clubs pilot project to develop up to 200 new clubs that were more responsive to the needs of younger professionals. The new models clubs are allowed to operate outside the Standard Rotary Club Constitution and Bylaws. Many of these clubs have altered their meeting frequency and relaxed attendance requirements. If the pilot clubs prove successful, the 2004 Council on Legislation could adopt policies making these innovations permanent.
The 4-Way Test
One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is The 4-Way Test. It was created by Rotarian Herbert I. Taylor in 1932 when he was asked to take charge of the Chicago-based Club Aluminum Company, which was facing bankruptcy Taylor looked for a way to save the struggling company mired in depression-caused financial difficulties. He drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives. The 4-Way Test became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company was credited to this simple philosophy.
Herb Taylor became president of Rotary International during 1954-55. The 4-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than 100 languages and published in thousands of ways. The message should be known and followed by all Rotarians. “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?”
Paul Harris — First but not First
Was Paul Harris the first president of a Rotary club? No.
Was Paul Harris the first president of Rotary International? Yes.
There is an easy explanation to this apparent contradiction. Although Paul Harris was the founder and organizer of the first Rotary club in Chicago in 1905, the man selected to be the first president was one of the other founding members, Silvester Schiele.
By the year 1910, there were 16 Rotary clubs, which linked up as an organization called the National Association of Rotary Clubs. Two years later, the name was changed to the International Association of Rotary Clubs, as Rotary was organized in Winnipeg, Canada, and then in England, Ireland, and Scotland. In 1922, the name was shortened to Rotary International.
When the first organization of Rotary clubs was created in 1910, Paul Harris was selected as the first president. He served in this position for two years, from 1910 until 1912. Thus, the founder of the Rotary idea, who declined to be president of the first club, became the first president of the worldwide organization, Rotary International.
First Names or Nicknames
From the earliest days of Rotary, members have referred to each other on a first-name basis. Since personal acquaintanceship and friendship are cornerstones of Rotary, it was natural that many clubs adopted the practice of setting aside formal titles in conversations among members. Individuals who normally would be addressed as Doctor, Professor, Miss, the Honorable, or Sir are regularly called Joe, Bill, Mary, Karen, or Charley by other Rotarians. The characteristic Rotary club name badge fosters the first-name custom.
In a few areas, such as Europe, club members use a more formal style in addressing fellow members. In other parts of the world, mainly in Asian countries, the practice is to assign each new Rotarian a humorous nickname which relates to some personal characteristic or which is descriptive of the member’s business or profession. A member nicknamed “Oxygen” is the manufacturer of chemical gas products. “Trees” is the nickname for the Rotarian in the lumber business, “Building” is the contractor, “Paper” is the stationery or office supply retailer. Other members might carry nicknames like “Muscles’ “Foghorn’ or “Smiles” as commentaries on physical characteristics.
The nicknames are frequently a source of good-natured fun and fellowship. But whether a Rotarian is addressed by a given first name or a nickname, the spirit of personal friendship is the initial step that opens doors to all other opportunities for service.
Four Avenues of Service
The term “Four Avenues of Service” refers to the four elements of the Object of Rotary: Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, and International Service.
Although the Avenues of Service are not found in any formal part of the constitutional documents of Rotary, many Rotarians use this concept to describe the primary areas of Rotary activity.
- Club Service involves all of the necessary activities Rotarians perform to make their club function successfully.
- Vocational Service describes the opportunity each Rotarian has to represent the dignity and utility of one’s vocation to the other members of the club, as well as the responsibility of the club to undertake projects related to such areas as career planning, vocational training, and the promotion of high ethical standards in the workplace.
- Community Service pertains to those activities that Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community. It frequently involves assistance to youth, the aged, the disabled, and others who look to Rotary as a source of hope for a better life.
- The fourth Avenue of Service, International Service, describes the many programs and activities that Rotarians undertake to advance international understanding, goodwill, and peace. International service projects are designed to meet humanitarian needs of people in many lands. When a Rotarian understands and travels down the four Avenues of Service, the Object of Rotary takes on even greater meaning.
THE ROTARIAN and the Rotary World Press
The month of April is annually designated as Rotary’s Magazine Month, an occasion to recognize and promote the reading and use of the official RI magazine, THE ROTARIAN, and the regional magazines, which make up the Rotary World Press.
THE ROTARIAN has been around since 1911 as the medium to communicate with Rotarians and to advance the program and Object of Rotary. A primary goal of the magazine is to support and promote key programs of Rotary. The magazine also disseminates information about the annual theme and the philosophy of the RI president, major meetings, and the emphasis of the official “months” on the Rotary calendar.
THE ROTARIAN provides a forum in which both Rotary-related and general interest topics may be explored. The magazine serves as an excellent source of information and ideas for programs at Rotary club meetings and district conferences. Many articles promote international fellowship, goodwill, and understanding. Regular readers usually have superior knowledge of the activities of Rotary and understand how each Rotarian may be more fully involved in the four Avenues of Service around the world.
In addition to THE ROTARIAN, the Rotary World Press includes 29 regional magazines printed in 21 languages with a combined circulation of almost half a million. Although each regional publication has its own unique style and content, they all provide Rotarians with up-to-date information and good reading in April — and all through the year.
International Responsibilities of Rotarian
As an international organization, Rotary offers each member unique opportunities and responsibilities. Although each Rotarian has first responsibility to uphold the obligations of citizenship of his or her own country, membership in Rotary enables Rotarians to take a somewhat different view of international affairs. In the early 1950s, a Rotary philosophy was adopted to describe how a Rotarian may think on a global basis. Here is what it said:
“A world-minded Rotarian:
- looks beyond national patriotism and considers himself – as sharing responsibility for the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace;
- resists any tendency to act in terms of national or racial superiority;
- seeks and develops common grounds for agreement with peoples of other lands;
- defends the rule of law and order to preserve the liberty of the individual so that he may enjoy freedom of thought, speech, and assembly, and freedom from persecution, aggression, want, and fear;
- supports action directed toward improving standards of living for all peoples, realizing that poverty anywhere endangers prosperity everywhere;
- upholds the principles of justice for mankind;
- strives always to promote peace between nations and prepares to make personal sacrifices for that ideal;
- urges and practices a spirit of understanding of others’ beliefs as a step toward international goodwill, recognizing that there are certain basic moral and spiritual standards which will ensure a richer, fuller life.”
That is quite an assignment for any Rotarian to practice in thoughts and actions!
‘When this philosophy was developed, Rotary was still an all-male organization. The description of a world-minded Rotarian today would obviously include all women members as well
Standard Rotary Club Constitution
Rotary International exists in 163 countries and cuts across dozens of languages, political and social structures, customs, religions, and traditions. How is it that all of the more than 31,000 Rotary clubs of the world operate in almost identical style? The primary answer is the Standard Rotary Club Constitution.
One of the conditions to receive a charter to become a Rotary club is to accept the Standard Rotary Club Constitution, originally adopted in 1922. This document outlines administrative techniques for clubs to follow in holding weekly meetings, procedures for membership and classifications, conditions of attendance, payment of dues, and other policies relating to public issues and political positions.
When the Standard Rotary Club Constitution was accepted, it was agreed that all existing clubs could continue to follow their current constitution. Although most of those early clubs have subsequently endorsed the standard constitution, a few pre-1922 clubs still conduct their club affairs according to their former constitutional provisions.
The Sponsor of a New Member
The bylaws of Rotary clearly outline the procedure for proposing someone for Rotary club membership. The “proposer” or sponsor is the key person in the growth and advancement of Rotary. Without a sponsor, an individual will never have the opportunity to become a Rotarian. Individuals must be asked to join Rotary; thus, it is every member’s responsibility to identify and invite prospective members.
The task of the sponsor should not end merely by submitting a name to the club secretary or membership committee. Rotary has not established formal responsibilities for sponsors; however, these procedures are recommended in many clubs.
The sponsor should
1. Invite a prospective member to several meetings prior to proposing the individual for membership
2. Accompany the prospective new member to one or more orientation/informational meetings
3. Introduce the new member to other club members each week for the first month
4. Encourage the new member to become involved in any club service projects underway
5. Invite the new member to attend meetings of the Interact or Rotaract clubs sponsored by the club
6. Provide opportunities for the new member to get involved in international program efforts, such as Group Study Exchange or Youth Exchange
7. Invite the new member to accompany the sponsor to neighboring clubs for the first make-up meeting to learn the process and observe the spirit of friendship
8. Ask the new member and spouse to accompany the sponsor to the club’s social activities, dinners, or other special occasions
9. Urge the new member and spouse to attend the district conference with the sponsor
10. Serve as a special friend to assure that the new member becomes an active Rotarian
When a new member becomes involved and connected, both Rotary and the new member become stronger.
Women in Rotary
Until 1989, the Constitution and Bylaws of Rotary International stated that Rotary club membership was for males only. In 1978, the Rotary Club of Duarte, California, USA, invited three women to become members. The RI Board withdrew the charter of that club for violation of the RI constitution. The club brought suit against RI claiming a violation of a state civil rights law that prevents discrimination of any form in business establishments or public accommodations. The appeals court and the California Supreme Court supported the Duarte position that Rotary could not remove the club’s charter merely for inducting women into the club. The United States Supreme Court upheld the California court indicating that Rotary clubs do have a “business purpose” and are in some ways public-type organizations. This action in 1987 allowed women to become Rotarians in any jurisdiction having similar “public accommodation” statutes.
The RI constitutional change was made at the 1989 Council on Legislation, with a vote to eliminate the “male only” provision for all of Rotary. Since that time, women have become members and leaders of clubs and districts throughout the world.
RI World Headquarters
The headquarters of Rotary International always has been in the area of Chicago, Illinois, USA. The first seven Secretariat offices were located in the city’s downtown, but in 1954 Rotary built an attractive new building in suburban Evanston. This building met the needs of the Rotary Secretariat until the 1980s, when the addition of new programs, the growth of The Rotary Foundation, and the new PolioPlus activities made the headquarters building extremely crowded and required some staff members to operate in supplementary office space nearby.
When a modern 18-story office building became available in downtown Evanston in 1987, it appeared to meet all of Rotary’s space and expansion needs for years to come. The glass and steel structure, built in 1977, provides 400,000 square feet (37,160 square meters) of office and usable space. The building was purchased by Rotary International, which leases nearly half of the space to commercial tenants, until needed by future Rotary growth.
The building provides a 190-seat auditorium, large parking garage, and 300-seat cafeteria, as well as functional office space for the 500 employees of the World Headquarters. The executive suite on the 18th floor includes conference rooms for meetings of the RI Board of Directors, Rotary Foundation Trustees, and RI and Foundation committees, in addition to the offices of the RI president, president-elect, president-nominee, chairman of The Rotary Foundation Trustees, and general secretary.
One Rotary Center, as it is called, enhances the efficient operations of Rotary International.
More Rotary Firsts
- Rotary established the Endowment Fund in 1917, which became the forerunner of The Rotary Foundation.
- Rotary first adopted the name “Rotary International” in 1922, when the name was changed from the International Association of Rotary Clubs.
- Rotary first established Paul Harris Fellow Recognition in 1957 for contributors of US$1,000 to The Rotary Foundation.
- The Rotary emblem was printed on a commemorative stamp for the first time in 1931 at the time of the Vienna convention.
- The first Rotary club banner (from the Houston Space Center Rotary club) to orbit the moon was carried by astronaut Frank Borman, a member of that club.
- The first Rotary Convention held outside the United States was in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1921.
- The first head of state to address an RI Convention was U.S. President Warren G. Harding in 1923 at St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Room 711 — Rotary’s Birthplace
The number 711 has a very special significance for Rotary. Room 711 of the old Unity Building, formerly located at 127 North Dearborn Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, USA, was the birthplace of Rotary. It was in that historic room, which was the office of engineer Gus Loehr, where Paul Harris first met with several friends to discuss his new idea of a club for professionals and businessmen.
It took extensive research and dedication by a few Chicago Rotarians to preserve the room and restore it to its 1905 authenticity. For years, Room 711 was preserved as a miniature Rotary museum by Rotarians around the world who voluntarily belonged to and contributed annually to the Paul Harris 711 Club, which provided funds for leasing, maintenance, and preservation. In 1989, when the Unity Building was about to be torn down, members of the 711 Club carefully dismantled the landmark room and placed its contents in storage. There it stayed until 1994, when the re-created Room 711 found a permanent home at the RI World Headquarters in Evanston, where this piece of Rotary’s heritage is preserved.
World Understanding Month
The month of February is designated World Understanding Month on the Rotary calendar. The month also includes the anniversary of the first meeting of Rotary held on 23 February 1905, now called World Understanding and Peace Day. To observe World Understanding Month, the Rotary International Board asks all
Rotary clubs to plan programs for their weekly meetings and undertake special activities that emphasize “understanding and goodwill as essential for world peace.”
In February, many clubs arrange for international speakers, invite Youth Exchange students and international scholars from schools and universities to club meetings, plan programs featuring former Group Study Exchange team members, arrange discussions on global issues, present entertainment with an international cultural or artistic theme, or plan other programs with an international emphasis.
Many clubs take the opportunity to launch an international community service activity or make contact with a Rotary club in another country. It is a good month to initiate a Rotary Friendship Exchange or encourage support for Rotary Foundation programs.
World Understanding Month is a chance for every club to pause, plan, and promote Rotary’s continued quest for goodwill, peace, and understanding among people of the world.
The Classification Principle
Virtually all membership in Rotary is based upon a “classification:’ Basically, a classification describes the distinct and recognized business or professional service that the Rotarian renders to society.
The principle of Rotary classification is somewhat more specific and precise. In determining the classification of a Rotarian, it is necessary to look at the “principal or recognized business or professional activity of the firm, company, or institution” with which an active member is connected or “that which covers the active member’s principal and recognized business or professional activity.”
It should be clearly understood that classifications are determined by activities or services to society rather than by the position held by a particular individual. In other words, if a person is the president of a bank, he or she is not classified as “bank president” but under the classification “banking.”
The classification principle also permits businesses and industries to be separated into distinct functions such as manufacturing, distributing, retailing, and servicing. Classifications may also be specified as distinct and independent divisions of a large corporation or university within the club’s territory, such as a school of business or a school of engineering.
The classification principle is a necessary concept in assuring that each Rotary club represents a cross section of the business and professional service of the community.
Exchange of Club Banners
One of the colorful traditions of many Rotary clubs is the exchange of small banners, flags, or pennants. Rotarians traveling to distant locations often take banners to exchange at make-up meetings as a token of friendship. Many clubs use the decorative banners they have received for attractive displays at club meetings and district events.
The Rotary International Board recognized the growing popularity of the banner exchange back in 1959 and encouraged participating clubs to ensure that the design of their banners is distinctive and expressive of the club’s community and country. It is recommended that banners include pictures, slogans, or designs portraying the territorial area of the club.
The Board was also mindful of the financial burden such exchanges may impose upon some clubs, especially in popular areas where many visitors make up and request to exchange banners. In all instances, clubs are cautioned to exercise discretion and moderation in the exchange of banners so that the financial obligations do not interfere with the basic service activities of the club.
Exchanging club banners is a very pleasant custom, especially when a creative and artistic banner tells an interesting story of community pride. The exchange of banners is a significant tradition of Rotary and serves as a tangible symbol of our international fellowship.
The Standard Rotary Club Constitution specifies three conditions under which a Rotarian’s membership will automatically be terminated for nonattendance. These circumstances are: failure to attend or make up four consecutive club meetings, failure to attend or make up 60 percent of club meetings each six months, and failure to attend at least 30 percent of the meetings of one’s own club in each six-month period. Under any of these three cases, a member will lose Rotary membership unless the club board of directors has previously consented to excuse such failure for good and sufficient reason.
When a member misses four consecutive regular meetings, the board will inform him or her that nonattendance may be considered a request to terminate membership in the club. Thereafter, the board, by a majority vote, may terminate his or her membership.
To some individuals, these rules may seem unusually rigid. However, being present at club meetings is one of the basic obligations a member accepts upon joining a Rotary club. The constitutional rules merely emphasize that Rotary is a participatory organization that highly values regular attendance. When a member is absent the entire club loses the personal association with that member. Being present at a club meeting is considered a vital part of the operation and success of every Rotary club.
Sharing Rotary with New Members
Are you aware of the responsibility or obligation most Rotarians fail to perform? Paying their dues? Attending meetings? Contributing to the club’s service fund? Participating in club events and projects? No — none of these!
Of all the obligations a person accepts when joining a Rotary club, the one in which most Rotarians fail is “sharing Rotary.” Rotary International clearly supports the position that every individual Rotarian has an “obligation to share Rotary with others and to help extend Rotary by proposing qualified persons for Rotary club membership:’ It is estimated that less than 30 percent of the members of most Rotary clubs have ever made the effort to propose a new member. Thus, in every club, there are many Rotarians who rarely share their positive experiences of Rotary membership with other individuals.
The Rotary International Constitution states with respect to club membership:
“Each club shall have a well-balanced membership in which no one business or profession predominates.” One merely has to glance through the pages of the local telephone or chamber of commerce directory to realize that most clubs have not invited qualified members of all businesses and professions into Rotary. One of the founding principles of Rotary is a fair and equitable representation of the professional and business population of the community it supports. To remain relevant, Rotary clubs must be inclusive of all professions and businesses within a community.
Only a Rotarian may propose a customer, neighbor, client, supplier, executive, relative, business associate, professional, or other qualified person to join a Rotary club. Have you accepted your obligation to share Rotary? The procedures are very simple, and everyone must know at least one person who should belong to Rotary.
Tolerance of Differences
Occasionally, there is a temptation to criticize the laws, customs, and traditions of another country that may seem strange or contrary to our own. In some instances, illegal practices or customs of one nation are completely lawful and acceptable in another.
As members of an international organization dedicated to world understanding and peace, it behooves Rotarians to exercise restraint in judging our Rotary friends and citizens from other countries when their behavior seems unusual to us. A Rotary policy has existed for more than half a century relating to this dilemma of international relationships.
The statement, adopted in 1933, says that because it is recognized that some activities and local customs may be legal and customary in some countries and not in others, Rotarians should be guided by this admonition of tolerance:
“Rotarians in all countries should recognize these facts and there should be a thoughtful avoidance of criticism of the laws and customs of one country by the Rotarians of another country?’ The policy also cautions against “any effort on the part of Rotarians of one country to interfere with the laws or customs of another country.
As we strive to strengthen the bonds of understanding, goodwill, and friendship, these policies still provide good advice and guidance.
Unusual Make-up Meetings
Which Rotarians have to travel farthest for a make-up meeting? You are right if you guessed the 34 members of the Rotary Club of Papeete, Tahiti, which is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and is the club that is most remote from any other. The southernmost Rotary meeting is that of the Rotary Club of Base Marambio-AntArtida in Antarctica. To visit the northernmost club, you must travel to the Rotary Club of Svalbard on the Svalbard island group far north of the Norwegian mainland.
It is said that there is a Rotary meeting being held someplace in the world every hour of every day. If you attended one meeting per day, it would take more than 80 years to visit all of the more than 31,000 Rotary clubs in the world, and by that time, no doubt, there would be thousands more new clubs to attend.
Vocational Service is the second Avenue of Service. No aspect of Rotary is more closely related to each member than a personal commitment to represent one’s vocation or occupation to fellow Rotarians, and to exemplify the characteristics of high ethical standards and the dignity of work. Programs of vocational service are those that seek to improve business relations while improving the quality of trades, industry, commerce, and the professions. Rotarians understand that each person makes a valuable contribution to a better society through daily activities in a business or profession.
Vocational Service is frequently demonstrated by offering young people career guidance, occupational information, and assistance in making vocational choices. Some clubs sponsor high school career conferences. Many recognize the dignity of employment by honoring exemplary service of individuals working in their communities. The 4-Way Test and other ethical and laudable business philosophies are often promoted among young people entering the world of work. Vocational talks and discussion of business issues are also typical Vocational Service programs at most clubs.
Regardless of the ways in which Vocational Service is expressed, it is the banner by which Rotarians “recognize the worthiness of all useful occupations” and demonstrate a commitment to “high ethical standards in all businesses and professions?’ That’s why the second Avenue of Service is fundamental to every Rotary club.
In many Rotary clubs throughout the world, wives of male members have been affectionately called “Rotary Anns?’ This designation was never one of disparagement, but rather grew out of an interesting historical occasion.
The year was 1914 when San Francisco Rotarians boarded a special train to attend the Rotary Convention being held in Houston. In those days, few wives attended Rotary events, and until the train stopped in Los Angeles, the only woman aboard was the wife of Rotarian Bru Brunnier. As the train picked up additional convention-bound delegates, Mrs. Ann Brunnier was introduced as the Rotarian’s Ann. This title soon became “Rotary Ann?’ Since the clubs of the West were inviting the Rotarians to hold their next convention in San Francisco, a number of songs and stunts were organized that would be performed in Houston. One of the Rotarians wrote a “Rotary Ann” chant. On the train’s arrival at the Houston depot, a delegation greeted the West Coast Rotarians. One of the greeters was Guy Gundaker of Philadelphia, whose wife was also named Ann. During the rousing demonstration, someone started the Rotary Ann chant. The two petite ladies, Ann Brunnier and Ann Gundaker, were hoisted to the men’s shoulders and paraded about the hall. The group loved the title given to the two women named Ann. Immediately, the same term of endearment was used for all of the wives in attendance.
Guy Gundaker became president of Rotary International in 1923 and Bru Brunnier was elected president in 1952. Thus, each of the two original Rotary Anns became the “first lady of Rotary International?’
Lessons In Rotary Geography
- Were you aware that the Rotary Club of Reno, Nevada, USA, is farther west than the Rotary Club of Los Angeles, California, USA?
- Would you guess that the meetings of the Rotary Club of Portland, Maine, USA, are farther south than those of the clubs in London, England?
- Can you imagine that the Rotary Club of Pensacola, Florida, USA, is west of the Detroit, Michigan, USA, club?
- It’s a fact that the Rotary Club of Cairo, Illinois, USA, is south of Richmond, Virginia, USA.
- There are 141 Rotary clubs with the word “Tokyo” in their club names.
- The Rotary Club of Nome, Alaska, USA, lies west of the club in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, and the Santiago, Chile, club is located east of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
- Rotary geographers will know that virtually every Rotary club meeting in Australia is east of the Hong Kong Rotary club.
- What do the Rotary clubs of Quito, Ecuador; Libreville, Gabon; Singapore; and Kampala, Uganda, have in common? You guessed right if you said they all meet approximately on the equator.
Invocations at Club Meetings
In many Rotary clubs, it is customary to open weekly meetings with an appropriate invocation or blessing. Usually such invocations are offered without reference to specific religious denominations or faiths.
Rotary policy recognizes that throughout the world Rotarians represent many religious beliefs, ideas, and creeds. The religious beliefs of each member are fully respected, and nothing in Rotary is intended to prevent each individual from being faithful to such convictions.
At international assemblies and conventions, it is traditional for a silent invocation to be given. In respect for all religious beliefs and in the spirit of tolerance for a wide variety of personal faiths, all persons are invited to seek divine guidance and peace in their own way. It is an inspiring experience to join with thousands of Rotarians in an international “silent prayer” or act of personal devotion. Usually all Rotary International Board and committee meetings begin with a few moments of silent meditation. In this period of silence, Rotary demonstrates respect for the beliefs of all members, who represent the religions of the world.
Since each Rotary club is autonomous, the practice of presenting a prayer or invocation at club meetings is left entirely to the traditions and customs of the individual club, with the understanding that these meeting rituals always be conducted in a manner that will respect the religious convictions and faiths of all members and are nondenominational in nature.
How do you find out when the Rotary club meets in Toowoomba, Pondicherry, or Recklinghausen? Simply turn to the Official Directory of Rotary International. The approximately 825-page annual publication is filled with current information about Rotarians and Rotary clubs. The meeting day, time, and location of every one of the more than 31,000 clubs is listed. From the Rotary Club of A’Famosa Malacca, Malaysia, to Zwolle-Noord, The Netherlands, the Official Directory provides the name, street address, and e-mail address if available of each club president and secretary, as well as the number of club members and charter date.
The Official Directory also records a wealth of information about the approximately 530 Rotary districts, as well as the composition and purpose of all official RI committees and task forces. Included are names and addresses of the current RI Board of Directors and all previous boards. There is a list of all past RI presidents with the themes for their year. An excellent directory of hotels around the world and a list of vendors licensed to sell Rotary merchandise are added features. It is a perfect guidebook for making Rotary contacts when you travel.
Available in a print version or on compact disc, the Official Directory can be ordered from RI World Headquarters or the international offices. Rotarians can also find information on club meetings in the Where Clubs Meet section on the RI Web site.
And, by the way, Toowoomba meets every Monday at 1800 hours, Pondicherry on Wednesdays at 1930, and Recklinghausen on Mondays at 1900. Now, that’s good to know!
Opportunities for Fellowship
Most Rotarians are successful professional and business executives because they hear opportunities knock and take advantage of them. Once a week, the opportunity for Rotary fellowship occurs at each club meeting, but not all members hear it knocking.
The weekly club meeting is a special privilege of Rotary membership. It provides the occasion to visit with fellow members, to meet visitors and new members, and to share your personal friendship with other members.
Rotary clubs that have a reputation for being “friendly clubs” usually follow a few simple steps. Members are encouraged to sit in a different seat or at a different table each week or to sit with a member they do not know as well as their longtime personal friends. Members are asked to invite new members or visitors to join their table and share the conversation around the table rather than merely eating in silence or talking privately to the person next to them. Rotarians also should make a special point of trying to get acquainted with all members of the club.
When Rotarians follow these easy steps, an entirely new opportunity for fellowship knocks each week. Soon, Rotarians realize that warm and personal friendship is the cornerstone of every great Rotary club.
Harry Ruggles was the fifth man to join Paul Harris in the conversations that led to the formation of the first Rotary club in Chicago in 1905. Harry was a fellow who enjoyed singing, and this was a popular activity at the turn of the century. At an early meeting of the fledgling group, Harry jumped on a chair and urged everyone to join him in a song.
Group singing soon became a traditional part of each Rotary meeting. The custom spread to many of the clubs in the United States and is still a popular fellowship activity in the Rotary meetings of such diverse countries as Australia, Japan, Nigeria, New Zealand, and Canada. Some clubs sing a national song as the formal opening of the meeting. Social singing, however, is seldom found in the Rotary clubs in Europe, South America, and Asia.
Types of Membership
There are two types of Rotary club membership — active and honorary. An active member is one who has been elected to membership in the club under a classification of business or profession and enjoys all the obligations, responsibilities, and privileges of membership as provided in the RI constitution and bylaws. Active members may hold office in their clubs and serve RI at the district and international levels. They are expected to meet attendance requirements, pay dues, and bring new members into Rotary.
Honorary Rotary membership may be offered to people who have distinguished themselves by meritorious service in the furtherance of Rotary ideals. An honorary member is elected for one year only, and continuing membership must be renewed annually. Honorary members cannot propose new members to the club or hold office and are exempt from attendance requirements and club dues.
Many distinguished heads of state, explorers, authors, musicians, astronauts, and other public personalities have been honorary members of Rotary clubs, including King Gustaf of Sweden, King George VI of England, King Badouin of Belgium, King Hassan III of Morocco, Sir Winston Churchill, humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, Charles Lindbergh, composer Jean Sibelius, explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, Thor Heyerdahl, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Dr. Albert Sabin, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and many of the presidents of the United States.
Membership in Rotary International
If you asked a Rotarian if he or she belonged to Rotary International, the individual probably would look puzzled and answer, “Of course I’m a member of Rotary International:’ But in this instance, the confident Rotarian would be technically wrong. No Rotarian can be a member of Rotary International!
The explanation of this apparent contradiction is simple. The constitutional documents of RI state that membership in Rotary International is limited to Rotary clubs. More than 31,000 Rotary clubs belong to the organization we call Rotary International.
A Rotary club is composed of persons with the appropriate qualifications of good character and reputation and a business or professional classification and who serve in an executive or managerial capacity. The Rotarian belongs to a club — the club belongs to Rotary International. This technical distinction is not obvious or even known to most Rotarians and seldom does it create any problems or complications. It does explain, however, why the Rotary International Board of Directors places expectations upon and extends privileges to Rotary clubs, rather than to individual Rotarians.
If someone asks if you belong to Rotary International, your most accurate answer would be, “No, I belong to a Rotary club?’ But it is doubtful anyone would understand the difference, or, in fact, would really care.
The district governor performs a very significant function in the world of Rotary. He or she is the single officer of Rotary International in the geographic area called a district, which usually includes about 45 Rotary clubs. The district governors, who have been extensively trained at the International Assembly and regionally at the governors-elect training seminar, provide guidance and leadership to the more than 31,000 Rotary clubs of the world. They are responsible for maintaining high performance within the clubs of their district.
The district governor is a very experienced Rotarian who generously devotes a year to the volunteer task of leadership and makes at least one official visit to each club in the district. The governor has a wealth of knowledge about current Rotary programs, purposes, policies, and goals, and is a person of recognized high standing in his or her profession, community, and Rotary club. The governor must supervise the organization of new clubs and strengthen existing ones. He or she performs a host of specific duties to ensure that the quality of Rotary does not falter in the district, and is responsible for promoting and implementing all programs and activities of the RI president and Board of Directors. The governor plans and directs a district conference and other special events.
The Role of Assistant Governors
The office of assistant governor was created in 1996 as a key element of the District Leadership Plan, the organizational structure for all districts that was adopted by the RI Board in an effort to help district governors better support their clubs. Assistant governors are appointed by the district governor to assist in the administration of assigned clubs. These key Rotary leaders help incoming club presidents plan for their year and for the governor’s official visit, advise clubs on strategies to achieve goals, and visit their assigned clubs at least four times a year.
In addition to providing more responsive support for clubs, assistant governors also form a pool of well-trained district leaders from which to select future governors. The assistant governor serves as an important resource for both the clubs and the district governor, helping to ensure that everything runs more smoothly within the district.
The International Assembly
An International Assembly is held each year prior to 15 February to prepare district governors-elect from around the world for the office they will assume on 1 July. Accompanied by their spouses, some 530 incoming governors join a host of experienced Rotarian leaders for a week of training and motivational sessions. At the assembly, they meet the special Rotarian who will serve as RI president during their year as governors, and they learn the RI theme for the coming year around which they will build their district’s activities.
The first International Assembly was held in Chicago, Illinois, USA, in 1919. Later assemblies were held in Lake Placid, New York, USA; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Boca Raton, Florida, USA; and Nashville, Tennessee, USA. In recent years the assembly has been held in Anaheim, California, USA. But regardless of the venue, the message on the sign above the plenary hall has remained unchanged for years: “Enter to learn. . . go forth to serve?’
The District Assembly
In view of the annual turnover of Rotary leadership each year, special effort is required to provide the more than 31,000 club leaders with appropriate instruction for the tasks they will assume. The annual district assembly is the primary training event for incoming club officers.
The district assembly offers motivation, inspiration, Rotary information, and new ideas for club officers, directors, and key committee chairs of each club. Some of the most experienced district leaders conduct informative discussions on all phases of Rotary administration and service projects. The assembly gives participants valuable new ideas to make their club more effective and interesting. Usually 8 to 10 delegates from each club are invited to attend the training session.
Another important feature of a district assembly is a review by the incoming district governor of the theme and emphasis of the new RI president for the coming year. District goals and objectives are also described, and plans are developed for their implementation.
The success of each Rotary club is frequently determined by the club’s representation and participation in the annual district assembly.
The District Conference
Most Rotarians have never attended a Rotary district conference, which means they have not experienced one of the most enjoyable and rewarding privileges of Rotary membership.
A district conference is for all club members in the district and their spouses, not just for club officers and committee members. The purpose of a district conference is for fellowship, inspirational speakers, and discussion of matters that make one’s Rotary membership more meaningful. Every person who attends a district conference finds that being a Rotarian becomes even more rewarding because of the new experiences, insights, and acquaintances developed at the conference. Those who attend a conference enjoy going back, year after year.
Every Rotary district has a conference annually. These meetings are considered so important that the Rotary International president selects a knowledgeable Rotarian as his personal representative to attend and address each conference. The program always includes several outstanding entertainment features, interesting discussions, and inspirational programs.
One of the added benefits of attending a district conference is the opportunity to become better acquainted with members of one’s own club in an informal setting. Lasting friendships grow from the fellowship hours at the district conference.
Presidents-elect Training Seminar (PETS)
The Bylaws of Rotary International require that the governor-elect of each district, in cooperation with the current governor, schedule and conduct a training seminar for the incoming club presidents of the district, preferably in March. This two- or three-day Presidents-elect Training Seminar, commonly referred to by its acronym, PETS, is a motivational and leadership training session designed to prepare the future club presidents for the office they will assume on 1 July. Among the subjects covered are the presentation of the RI theme for the coming year as well as information about effective service projects and The Rotary Foundation. Time is also devoted to reviewing the role and responsibilities of a club president. Incoming club presidents also learn about goal-setting, selection and preparation of club officers, club administration, membership recruitment and orientation, and RI and district resources. In
some areas of the world, two or more neighboring districts conduct Multidistrict PETS. Multidistrict PETS groups have found that their larger numbers help them attract popular Rotary speakers, provide incoming presidents with a perspective beyond the district, and generate more diverse strategies for effective club leadership.
Youth Exchange is one of the most popular programs to promote international understanding and develop lifelong friendships. It began in 1927 with the Rotary Club of Nice, France. Exchanges in Europe continued until World War II and resumed after the war in 1946. In 1939, an extensive Youth Exchange was created between California and Latin America. Since then, the program has expanded around the world. In recent years, more than 7,000 young people have participated annually in Rotary club- and district-sponsored exchange programs.
The values of Youth Exchange are experienced not only by the high-school-age students involved but also by the host families, sponsoring clubs, receiving high schools, and the entire community. Youth Exchange participants usually provide their fellow students in their host schools with excellent opportunities to learn about customs, languages, traditions, and family life in another country.
Youth Exchange offers young people interesting opportunities and rich experiences to see another part of the world. Students usually spend a full academic year abroad, although some clubs and districts sponsor short-term exchanges of several weeks or months.
Youth Exchange is a highly recommended program for all Rotary clubs as a practical activity for the enhancement of international understanding and goodwill.
No Personal Privileges
Frequently, friends ask whether Rotarians receive special business benefits from their Rotary membership. Should Rotarians expect a special discount or some preferential service just because they are dealing with a fellow Rotarian?
The answer is clearly “no?’ The RI Manual of Procedure expressly states the Rotary position on this matter. The policy, originally approved by the RI Board of Directors in 1933, is that in business and professional relations “a Rotarian should not expect, and far less should a Rotarian ask for, more consideration or advantages from a fellow Rotarian than the latter would give to any other business or professional associate…Any use of the fellowship of Rotary as a means of gaining an advantage or profit is contrary to the spirit of Rotary.”
On the other hand, if new or increased business comes as the natural result of friendship created in Rotary, it is the same normal development that takes place outside of Rotary as well as inside, so it is not an infringement on the ethics of Rotary membership.
It is important to remember that the primary purpose of Rotary membership is to provide each member with a unique opportunity to serve others, and membership is not intended as a means for personal profit or special privileges.
Every Rotarian an Example to Youth
In 1949, the RI Board adopted the slogan Every Rotarian an Example to Youth as an expression of commitment to children and youth in each community in which Rotary clubs exist. Serving young people has long been an important part of the Rotary program.
Youth service projects take many forms around the world. Rotarians sponsor Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, athletic teams, centers for disabled children, school safety patrols, summer camps, orphanages, recreation areas, safe driving clinics, county fairs, child-care centers, and children’s hospitals. Many clubs provide vocational counseling, establish youth employment programs, and promote use of The 4-Way Test. Increasingly, drug/alcohol abuse prevention and AIDS awareness projects are being supported by Rotarians.
In every instance, Rotarians have an opportunity to be role models and mentors for the young people of their community. One learns to serve by observing others. As our youth grow to become adult leaders, it is hoped each will achieve that same desire and spirit to serve future generations.
The slogan accepted over 50 years ago is just as vital today.
World Community Service
World Community Service (WCS) is the Rotary program by which a club or district in one country provides humanitarian assistance to a project of a club in another country. Typically, the aid goes to a developing community where the Rotary project will help raise the standard of living and the quality of life. The ultimate object of World Community Service is to build goodwill and understanding among peoples of the world.
One important way to find a club in some other part of the world that needs help on a worthy project is to use the WCS Projects Exchange, a list of hundreds of worthy activities in developing areas that is published semiannually. The exchange list is maintained at the RI Secretariat in Evanston and is readily available upon request. It outlines projects, provides estimated costs, and gives names of the appropriate contacts. The WCS Projects Exchange list and the database, which is updated monthly, are accessible via the RI Web site at www.rotary.org.
Clubs seeking help with a humanitarian project may register their needs, and clubs seeking to assist a World Community Service project may easily review the list of needs registered in the Projects Exchange. Thus, the exchange provides a practical way to link needs with resources.
Every Rotary club is urged to undertake a new World Community Service project each year. The WCS Projects Exchange list is an excellent tool to find a real need, a project description, and cooperating club in a developing area. The job then is to go to work” to complete the project, and at the same time build bridges of friendship and world understanding.
Women’s Groups Associated with Rotary Clubs
Some very significant programs of Rotary service are not conducted by Rotarians. This is true because of the many projects sponsored by organizations of Rotarians’ wives and other women relatives associated with Rotary clubs around the world. Generally organized before Rotary clubs admitted women to membership, these groups served, and continue to serve, as a way for spouses of Rotarians to support the Rotary ideal of service and make valuable contributions to their community.
Women’s groups — often called Women of Rotary, Rotary Ann Clubs, Las Damas de Rotary, or the more formalized organization, The Inner Wheel — annually conduct hundreds of notable projects of humanitarian service. They establish schools, baby clinics, food and clothing distribution centers, hospital facilities, orphanages, homes for the elderly, and other service activities, and they frequently provide volunteer service on a day-to-day basis to operate child-care centers for working mothers and provide necessary resources for Youth Exchange students. In many instances, the women’s groups complement and supplement the programs of service performed by the local Rotary clubs. Many of the women’s groups actively conduct international service projects as well as local projects.
The RI Board of Directors in 1984 recognized the excellent service and fellowship of the clubs and organizations of women relatives of Rotarians and encouraged all Rotary clubs to sponsor such informal organizations.
Functional Literacy Program
It has been estimated that a billion people — one-sixth of the world’s population are unable to read. Illiteracy among adults and children is a global concern in highly industrialized nations and in developing countries.
The tragedy of illiteracy is that those who cannot read are denied personal independence and become victims of unscrupulous manipulation, poverty, and the loss of human dignity. Illiteracy is demeaning. It is a major obstacle for economic, political, social, and personal development and a barrier to international understanding, cooperation, and peace in the world.
Many Rotary clubs are thoughtfully surveying the needs of their community for literacy training. Some clubs provide basic books for teaching reading. Others establish and support reading and language clinics, provide volunteer tutorial assistance, and purchase reading materials. Rotarians can play a vitally important part in their community and in developing countries by promoting projects to open opportunities that come from the ability to read. For example, Australian Rotarians developed Lighthouses for Literacy projects in four schools in Thailand. This innovative teaching method proved so successful that the Thai government adopted it for all the nation’s schools. Other Rotary clubs have used this model to develop literacy projects in Bangladesh, South Africa, Brazil, and other countries.
Each May or June, Rotary International holds a worldwide convention “to stimulate, inspire, and inform all Rotarians at an international level.” The convention, which may not be held in the same country for more than two consecutive years, is the annual meeting to conduct the business of the association. The planning process usually begins about four or five years in advance. In selecting the site, the RI Board determines a general location and invites cities to make proposals.
The conventions are truly international events that 20,000 to 35,000 Rotarians and guests attend. In addition to being fun events, international conventions offer Rotarians unique opportunities for vacation travel. Upcoming conventions are scheduled for Brisbane, Australia (2003); Osaka, Japan (2004); and Chicago, Illinois, USA (2005). All members should plan to participate in a Rotary International convention to discover the real internationality of Rotary. It is an experience you’ll never forget.
From time to time, Rotarians see promotional literature announcing a presidential or regional peace conference to be held some place in the world. Such a conference is quite similar to the annual Rotary International convention but smaller in attendance and serving Rotarians and guests in a region that is a considerable distance from the site of the international convention.
The purpose of an RI presidential conference is to develop and promote acquaintance, friendship, and understanding among the attendees, as well as to facilitate the development of international service projects, and provide a forum to discuss and exchange ideas about Rotary and activities to promote goodwill and understanding. A few peace conferences have actually initiated peaceful relations among nations with historic conflicts. Presidential conferences are considered special events on the Rotary calendar and are not held on any regular schedule. The conferences are arranged by a committee appointed by the RI president.
Rotarians from all parts of the world are always welcome to attend. Participating in a presidential conference in another region is an enjoyable, rewarding, and fascinating experience that provides another opportunity to enjoy the international fellowship of Rotary.
In 1931, Rotarians in France and Germany organized the petit corn ite, a small group with the goal of fostering better relations between the people of these two neighboring nations. Since that time, Rotarians throughout Europe have led the way in creating Intercountry Committees to encourage contacts between Rotarians and Rotary clubs across national boundaries.
Intercountry Committees have now been established in many parts of the world to promote friendship as well as to cooperate in sponsoring World Community Service projects, student exchanges, and other activities to improve understanding among nations. Frequently, the Intercountry Committees sponsor visits of Rotarians and their families across national borders and arrange intercity meetings and conferences.
In some instances, Intercountry Committees are created between countries separated by great distances in an effort to encourage goodwill and friendship with matched or partner areas of the world. The Intercountry Committees coordinate their efforts with the district governors of their countries and always serve in an advisory capacity to districts and clubs.
Intercountry Committees provide an additional means for Rotary clubs and Rotarians to fulfill the responsibilities of the fourth Avenue of Service international understanding, goodwill, and peace.
The structure of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) forms an interesting chapter in our history. In 1914, after Rotary expanded across the Atlantic to Great Britain and Ireland, a British Association of Rotary Clubs was established as part of the International Association of Rotary Clubs. During World War I, there was little contact between the international clubs, and the British association held the small number of Rotary clubs together in Great Britain, Ireland, and a few other European communities.
Following the war, a new Rotary International Constitution was adopted in 1922 that established the principle that whenever a country had 25 Rotary clubs it could become a “territorial unit” and thus have a representative on the RI Board and receive other specific powers. The clubs in Great Britain and Ireland immediately petitioned for and received the status of a territorial unit. No other group in the world made such a request or received that status.
In 1927, Rotary International terminated the territorial unit concept and organized Rotary clubs by “areas” of the world. However, all of “the rights, privileges, and powers of existing territorial units” were forever protected and perpetuated. Thus, RIBI has continued to function as an independent unit of Rotary International, subject to certain approvals by the RI Constitution.
The RIBI form of administration is uniquely appropriate to Great Britain and Ireland because of geography, language, tradition, and custom. Because of this historic relationship, RIBI maintains a slightly different administrative structure from all the other Rotary clubs and districts in the world, even though it is a full member of Rotary International.
Council on Legislation
In the early days of Rotary, any change in the RI Bylaws or Constitution was proposed and voted upon at the annual convention. As attendance at conventions increased and open discussion became more difficult, a Council on Legislation was created in 1934 as an advisory group to debate and analyze proposals before they were voted on by the convention.
Finally, at the 1970 Atlanta convention, it was decided that the Council on Legislation would actually become the legislative or parliamentary body of Rotary. The council is composed of one delegate from each Rotary district as well as several ex officio members. It was agreed that the council would meet every three years at a site and time other than the RI Convention.
The council has the responsibility of considering and acting upon all “enactments,” which are proposed changes in the Rotary International Bylaws and Constitution and the Standard Rotary Club Constitution, and “resolutions which are recommendations to the RI Board for policy, program, and procedural changes. Proposals may be submitted by any Rotary club, district, or the RI Board. The council’s actions are subject to review by all the Rotary clubs of the world before they become final. If 10 percent of the voting strength of the clubs oppose a council action, such legislation is suspended and it is submitted to all the clubs for a final vote.
The Council on Legislation provides the membership of Rotary with a democratic process for legislative change in the operations of Rotary International.
From stamp collecting to ballroom dancing, the interests of Rotarians are as diverse as the membership itself. Yet, among the more than 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide, an amateur-radio enthusiast or a chess player is bound to find others who share the same passions. But Rotary Fellowship members share more than just their common interest in sport diving, golf, fishing, or scouting; they share an interest in fellowship and service and in promoting world understanding. As such, it’s no wonder that the International Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians donates the profits from ski events to The Rotary Foundation or that the Flying Rotarians help ferry medical personnel and supplies.
Rotary Fellowships also unite Rotarians who have shared professional interest in such fields as arts and communication and finance/banking. Members exchange technical information and seek opportunities to employ their expertise in service not just to their own communities and countries, but to their professions as well.
Rotary Friendship Exchange
An interesting Rotary program of fellowship is the Rotary Friendship Exchange. This activity is intended to encourage Rotarians and their families to visit with Rotarian families in other parts of the world. It may be conducted on a club-to-club (individual Rotarians and their families) or district-to-district (four to six Rotary couples) basis.
The idea is for several Rotarian couples to travel to another country on the Rotary Friendship Exchange. Later, the hospitality is reversed when the visit is reciprocated. After a successful pilot experiment, the Rotary Friendship Exchange became a permanent program of Rotary in 1988.
The Rotary Friendship Exchange is frequently compared to the Group Study Exchange program of The Rotary Foundation, except that it involves Rotarian couples or families who personally pay for all expenses of their intercountry experience. Doors of friendship are opened in a way that could not be duplicated except in Rotary.
Rotarians seeking an unusual vacation and fellowship experience should learn more about the Rotary Friendship Exchange. Some unusual Rotary adventures are awaiting you!
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)
Each summer, thousands of young people are selected to attend Rotary-sponsored leadership camps or seminars in the United States, Australia, Canada, India, France, Argentina, Korea, and numerous other countries. In an informal atmosphere, groups of outstanding young people in the 14-30 age range spend a week in a challenging program of leadership training, discussions, inspirational addresses, and social activities designed to enhance personal development, leadership skills, and good citizenship. The official name of this activity is the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program (RYLA), although these events are sometimes referred to by other names, such as Camp Royal, Camp Enterprise, youth leaders seminars, or youth conferences.
The RYLA program began in Australia in 1959, when young people throughout the state of Queensland were selected to meet with Princess Alexandra, the young cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. The Rotarians of Brisbane, who hosted the participants, were impressed with the quality of the young people. It was decided to bring youth leaders together each year for a week of social, cultural, and educational activities. The RYLA program gradually grew throughout all the Rotary districts of Australia and New Zealand. In 1971, the RI Board adopted RYLA as an official program of Rotary International. RYLA is generally conducted as a district activity.
Rotary Community Corps
One of the programs in Rotary’s panoply of worldwide service activities and projects is the Rotary Community Corps. Formerly known as Rotary Village Corps (or Rotary Community Service Corps in urban areas), this form of grassroots self-help service was initiated by RI President M.A.T. Caparas in 1986 as a means of improving the quality of life in villages, neighborhoods, and communities. The program is built on the premise that there is frequently an abundance of available labor in an area but no process for mobilizing men and women to conduct useful projects of community improvement.
A Rotary Community Corps is a Rotary club-sponsored group of non-Rotarians who want to help their own community by conducting service projects. Rotarians provide professional expertise, guidance, encouragement, organizational structure, and some of the material assistance for the Rotary Community Corps, whose members contribute the manpower and knowledge of community needs to help their own community. Thus, the Rotary Community Corps is another way for Rotarians to serve in places of great need.
You can find them working in remote clinics, refugee camps, makeshift hospitals, primitive villages, and in their own communities. They are experts in administration, community development, education, food production, health care, and water and sanitation. They’re Rotary Volunteers.
The Rotary Volunteers program operates under the umbrella of Vocational Service at the club, district, and international level. Rotarians and non-Rotarians who wish to serve as international volunteers can register with RI World
Headquarters for inclusion on the Rotary Volunteers International Volunteers List. The Rotary Volunteers International Site List and the Rotary Volunteers Resource List can help volunteers locate their own projects and make arrangements directly with project coordinators.
The Rotary Foundation provides funds, to cover air transportation and a modest per diem, to registered Rotary Volunteers who are Rotarians, Rotaractors, and qualified Foundation alumni and who have an invitation from a Rotary club in the host country. Volunteers do not receive a salary or honorarium for their services. Rotary Volunteers have shared their expertise in a multitude of humanitarian projects around the world.
Interact, a Rotary-sponsored youth service club, was launched by the RI Board of Directors in 1962. The first Interact club was established by the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Florida, USA. Interact clubs provide opportunities for young people of secondary school age to work together in a world fellowship of service and international understanding. The term “Interact” is derived from “inter;’ for international, and “act,” for action. Every Interact club must be sponsored and supervised by a Rotary club and must plan annual projects of service to its school, community, and the world.
Today, there are more than 8,600 Interact clubs with about 200,000 members in some 110 countries. Interactors develop skills in leadership and attain practical experience in conducting service projects, thereby learning the satisfaction that comes from serving others. A major goal of Interact is to provide opportunities for young people to create greater understanding and goodwill with youth throughout the world.
After the success of Interact clubs for high-school-age youth in the early 1960s, the RI Board created Rotaract in 1968. The new organization was designed to promote responsible citizenship and leadership potential in clubs of young men and women, aged 18 to 30. The first Rotaract club was chartered by the Rotary Club of Charlotte North in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. In 2002, there were 170,000 members in more than 7,300 Rotaract clubs in 153 countries.
Rotaract clubs emphasize the importance of individual responsibility as the basis of personal success and community involvement. Each club is required to complete at least two major service projects each year, one to serve the community and the other to promote international understanding. Rotaract also provides opportunities leading to greater leadership and professional development. Rotaractors enjoy many social activities as well as programs to improve their community. A Rotaract club can exist only when continuously sponsored, guided, and counseled by a Rotary club.
Still More Rotary Firsts
- Rotary first presented Significant Achievement Awards in 1969 to clubs with outstanding international or community service projects.
- Rotary’s first Interact club was organized in Melbourne, Florida, USA, in 1962 to become the pioneer for about 8,600 Interact clubs in 110 countries.
- Rotary’s first convention held in the Southern Hemisphere was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1948.
- Rotary’s first community service project took place in 1907 when Chicago Rotarians led a campaign to install a public “comfort station” in the city hall.
- The first year The Rotary Foundation received total contributions of a million dollars in a single year was 1964-65. Today, more than US$70 million is given annually. Contributions since 1917 total more than $1.3 billion.
- Rotary’s first appeal for aid to disaster victims was in 1913 when $25,000 was given for flood relief in Ohio and Indiana, USA.
RI’s General Secretary
The day-to-day operations of Rotary International’s Secretariat are under the supervision of the general secretary, the top professional officer of Rotary. Although the general secretary is responsible to the RI Board of Directors and president, he provides the ongoing management for about 600 staff members who comprise the Secretariat of Rotary International.
The general secretary serves as secretary to the RI Board and is also the chief executive and financial officer of The Rotary Foundation, under the supervision of the Trustees of the Foundation. He is the secretary of all Rotary committees as well as the Council on Legislation, regional conferences, and the annual RI Convention.
The general secretary is appointed by the RI Board for a term of not more than three years, which may be renewed by the Board. Since 1910, 10 men have served in that position. Chesley Perry, the original general secretary, served from 1910 to 1942. Others who followed were Phil Lovejoy (1942-52), George Means (1953-72), Harry Stewart (1972-78), Herb Pigman (1979-86 and 1993-95), Philip Lindsey (1986-90), Spencer Robinson Jr. (1990-93), Geoffrey Large (1995-97), and S. Aaron Hyatt (1997-2000). Ed Futa was appointed in 2000.
Throughout the history of Rotary, the personal influence and administrative skills of our general secretaries have significantly shaped the course of Rotary programs and activities.
Selecting a President
Each year, a distinguished Rotarian is selected as the worldwide president of Rotary International. The process begins one year in advance when a 17-person nominating committee is elected from separate zones of the world. To qualify for the nominating committee, a Rotarian must have served on the RI Board of Directors. If there is no past director able to serve from the zone, a past trustee of The Rotary Foundation or a past governor who has served on an RI committee may be appointed to the nominating committee.
The nominating committee may consider all former RI directors for the presidential candidate. Members of the nominating committee and current directors are not eligible. Any Rotary club may suggest the name of a former RI director to the committee for consideration.
The committee convenes in September to select the Rotarian to be the presidential nominee, whose name is announced to all clubs. Any Rotary club may make an additional nomination before 1 December, which must then be endorsed by one percent of all the Rotary clubs of the world (about 300). If such an event occurs, an election is held by mail ballot. If no additional nomination is presented by the clubs, the person selected by the nominating committee is declared to be the president-nominee. From that point on, that special Rotarian and spouse will spend more than a year in preparation and then a year serving the Rotarians of the world as the international president.
Annual Rotary Themes
In 1955, RI President A.Z. Baker announced a theme, Develop Our Resources, to serve as Rotary’s program of emphasis. Since that time, each president has issued a theme for his Rotary year. The shortest theme was in 196 1-62 when Joseph Abey selected Act. Other one-word themes were chosen in 1957-58 by Charles Tennent (Serve) and 1968-69 by Kiyoshi Togasaki (Participate).
Carl Miller, in 1963-64, proposed a theme for the times, Guidelines for Rotary in the Space Age. Other “timely” themes were in 1980-81 when Rolf Klarich created Take Time to Serve and William Carter in 1973-74 used Time for Action. Two themes have a similarity to commercial advertising: A Better World Through Rotary (Richard Evans, 1966-67) and Reach Out (Clem Renouf, 1978-79). Bridges have been a striking metaphor. Harold Thomas, 1959-60, urged Rotarians to Build Bridges of Friendship; William Walk, 1970-71, created Bridge the Gap; and Hiroji Mukasa, 1982-83, declared Mankind is One — Build Bridges of Friendship Throughout the World.
A worldwide focus was given by Stanley McCaffrey in 1981-82 with the message, World Understanding and Peace Through Rotary, and again in 1984-85 by Carlos Canseco who urged Rotarians to Discover a New World of Service. In other years, the individual was emphasized, as You Are Rotary (Edd McLaughlin, 1960-61), Goodwill Begins With You (Ernst Breitholtz, 1971-72) and You Are the Key (Edward Cadman, 1985-86). Frequently, the theme urges Rotarians to become more involved in their club, such as Share Rotary — Serve People (William Skelton, 1983-84) or Make Your Rotary Membership Effective (Luther Hodges, 1967-68). But whether you Review and Renew, Take a New Look, Let Service Light the Way or Dignify the Human Being, it is clear that the RI president provides Rotarians with an important annual program of emphasis.
In 1986-87, President M.A.T. Caparas selected the inspiring message that Rotary Brings Hope. Charles Keller in 1987-88 saw Rotarians — United in Service, Dedicated to Peace, while Royce Abbey asked his fellow members in 1988-89 to Put Life into Rotary — Your Life. Hugh Archer (1989-90) urged us to Enjoy Rotary! and Paulo Costa (1990-91) asked that we Honor Rotary with Faith and Enthusiasm. Rajendra Saboo (199 1-92) exhorted every Rotarian to Look Beyond Yourself
In 1992-93, Clifford Dochterman reminded Rotarians, Real Happiness Is Helping Others, and in 1993-94, Robert Barth counseled Rotarians, Believe In What You Do and Do What You Believe In. In 1994-95, Bill Huntley encouraged Rotarians to Be A Friend to their communities. During 1995-96, Herbert Brown asked Rotarians to Act with Integrity, Serve with Love, Work for Peace. In 1996-97, Luis Giay called on Rotarians to Build the Future with Action and Vision. Glen Kinross in 1997-98 proposed the plan to Show Rotary Cares, and James Lacy asked Rotarians to Follow Your Rotary Dream in 1998-99. In 1999-2000, Carlo Ravizza proposed the theme Rotary 2000: Act With Consistency, Credibility, Continuity. The next year, Frank Devlyn asked Rotarians to Create Awareness and Take Action, and in 2001-02, Richard King reminded Rotarians that Mankind Is Our Business. For 2002-03, Bhichai Rattakul encouraged Rotarians to Sow the Seeds of Love.
One of the interesting bylaws of Rotary International provides that “no Rotarian shall campaign, canvass, or electioneer for elective position in Rotary International.” This provision includes the office of district governor, Rotary International director, RI president, and various elected committees. The Rotary policy prohibits the circulation of brochures, literature, or letters by a candidate or by anyone on behalf of such a candidate.
After a Rotarian has indicated an intention to be a candidate for one of the elective Rotary offices, he or she must refrain from speaking engagements, appearances, or publicity that could reasonably be construed as furthering his or her candidacy. The only information that may be sent to clubs relating to candidates for an elective position is that which is officially distributed by the general secretary of RI.
A Rotarian who becomes a candidate for an elective position, such as district governor or RI director, must avoid any action that would be interpreted as giving him or her an unfair advantage over other candidates. Failure to comply with these provisions prohibiting campaigning could result in the disqualification of the candidate.
In Rotary, it is believed that a Rotarian~s record of service and qualifications for office stand on their own and do not require publicity or special promotion.
The Rotary Foundation’s Beginning
Some magnificent projects grow from very small seeds. The Rotary Foundation had that sort of modest beginning.
In 1917, RI President Arch Klumph told the delegates to the Atlanta convention that “it seems eminently proper that we should accept endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world.” The response was polite and favorable, but the fund was slow to materialize. A year later, the Rotary Endowment Fund, as it was originally labeled, received its first contribution of US$26.50 from the Rotary Club of Kansas City, Missouri, USA, which was the balance of the Kansas City convention account following the 1918 annual meeting. Additional small amounts were contributed each year, but after six years the endowment fund had reached only $700.A decade later, The Rotary Foundation was formally established at the 1928 Minneapolis convention.
In the next four years, the Foundation fund grew to $50,000. In 1937, a $2 million goal was announced for The Rotary Foundation, but these plans were cut short and abandoned with the outbreak of World War II. In 1947, upon the death of Paul Harris, a new era opened for The Rotary Foundation as memorial gifts poured in to honor the founder of Rotary. From that time, The Rotary Foundation has been achieving its noble objective of furthering “understanding and friendly relations between peoples of different nations.” By 1954, the Foundation received for the first time a half million dollars in contributions in a single year, and in 1965 a million dollars was received.
It is staggering to imagine that from those humble beginnings, The Rotary Foundation is now receiving more than $65 million each year for educational and humanitarian work around the world.
The Permanent Fund of The Rotary Foundation
It was Arch Klumph, father of The Rotary Foundation, who said, “We should look at the Foundation as being not something of today or tomorrow, but think of it in terms of the years and generations to come.” That’s why the Foundation’s Permanent Fund is considered the most important way to ensure the future of Rotary’s educational and humanitarian programs. Contributions to this fund, formerly called the Endowment for World Understanding and Peace, are invested for the future. Only earnings from their investment are used to support Foundation programs. Ultimately, it is intended that the Permanent Fund will provide a steady and secure supplement to Foundation support, always guaranteeing a minimum level of program activity and allowing for the possibility of new and expanded programs in the future.
The Foundation gives special recognition to donors to the Permanent Fund as Major Donors, Bequest Society Members, and Benefactors. Major Donors make gifts of US$10,000 or more; Bequest Society Members include the Permanent Fund in their estate plans for $10,000 or more; and Foundation Benefactors make provisions in their will or make an outright contribution of $1,000 to the fund. These individuals are ensuring that The Rotary Foundation will remain a powerful force for good in the world far into the future.
The Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarships program is the world’s largest privately funded international scholarships program. In 1947, 18 “Rotary Fellows” from 11 countries were selected to serve as ambassadors of goodwill while studying in another country for one academic year. Since that time, approximately US$413 million has been expended on some 34,000 scholarships for people from some 110 countries, studying in 105 countries around the world.
The purpose of the scholarships program is to further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries. Scholars are expected to be outstanding ambassadors of goodwill to the people of the host country through both informal and formal appearances before Rotary and non-Rotary groups. Each scholar is assigned a host Rotarian counselor to facilitate involvement in Rotary and integration into the host culture.
Since 1994-95, The Rotary Foundation has offered two new types of scholarships in addition to the Academic-Year Ambassadorial Scholarships. The Multi-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship is awarded for two years of specific degree-oriented study abroad. The Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarship provides funding for three or six months of intensive language study and cultural immersion in another country.
In addition to being an investment in the education of tomorrow’s leaders, Rotary Foundation scholarships create personal links between countries and are an important step toward greater understanding and goodwill in the world.
Rotary World Peace Scholarships
In 1999, The Rotary Foundation launched the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution, a partnership with eight leading universities around the world to provide advanced educational opportunities for a group of Rotary World Peace Scholars chosen from various countries and cultures. Each year, 70 scholars are selected to begin two-year master’s-level degree or certificate programs in conflict resolution, peace studies, and international relations. Each Rotary district may nominate one candidate for a world-competitive selection process every year. The first World Peace Scholars began their studies in the 2002-03 academic year.
The Rotary Centers will provide future leaders with opportunities to study the root causes of conflict, theories of international relations, and effective models of cooperation. Beyond academics, Rotary Scholars will gain practical tools in conflict resolution for use in their chosen careers. The Rotary Centers will also help to advance research, teaching, and publication on issues related to conflict resolution and world understanding.
The Rotary Centers for International Studies mark an exciting new chapter in Rotary’s mission to help achieve world understanding and peace. It is envisioned that Rotary World Peace Scholars will contribute significantly to the world community in a variety of ways working for international agencies such as the United Nations or for governments as diplomats, foreign service officers, economists, or policy analysts.
Group Study Exchange
One of the most popular programs of The Rotary Foundation is Group Study Exchange. Since the first exchange between districts in California and Japan in 1965, the program has provided educational experiences for more than 44,500 business and professional men and women who have served on about 9,000 teams.
The GSE program pairs Rotary districts to send and receive study teams. Since 1965, almost US$79.5 million has been allocated by The Rotary Foundation for Group Study Exchange grants. One of the attractive features of GSE is the opportunity for the visiting team members to meet, talk, and live with Rotarians and their families in a warm spirit of friendship and hospitality. In addition to learning about another country through visits to farms, schools, industrial plants, professional offices, and governmental establishments, the GSE team members serve as ambassadors of goodwill. They interpret their home nation to host Rotarians and others in the communities they visit. In recent years, teams of a single vocation or cultural group have been exchanged. Some GSE teams help create humanitarian projects between their countries. Many of the personal contacts blossom into lasting friendships.
Truly, the Group Study Exchange program has provided Rotarians with a most enjoyable, practical, and meaningful way to promote world understanding.
Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Grants
In 1978, Rotary launched its most comprehensive humanitarian service activity with the Health, Hunger and Humanity Grants program. The 3-H Grants program is designed to undertake large-scale service projects beyond the capacity of individual Rotary clubs or groups of clubs.
Since 1978, more than 320 different 3-H projects had been approved and undertaken in 74 different countries, with an appropriation at more than US$85 million. The objective of these projects is to improve health, alleviate hunger, and enhance human, cultural, and social development among peoples of the world. The ultimate goal is to advance international understanding, goodwill, and peace.
The first 3-H project was the immunization of six million children in the Philippines against polio. This was the birth of what we now know as the PolioPlus program. As 3-H progressed, new programs were added to help people in developing areas of the world. Now, in addition to the mass polio immunization of more than two billion children in various countries, 3-H has promoted nutrition programs, vocational education, food production enhancement, polio victim rehabilitation, and other activities that benefit large numbers of people in developing countries. AU 3-H projects are supported by the voluntary contributions of Rotarians through The Rotary Foundation.
Among the programs of The Rotary Foundation are the Matching Grants that assist Rotary clubs and districts in conducting international service projects. Since 1965, more than 16,000 grants have been awarded for projects in about 191 countries, totaling more than US$165 million.
A club or district must contribute an amount at least as large as that requested from The Rotary Foundation with at least half the funds that the Foundation will match coming from a country outside of the country where the project will take place. Grants have been made to improve hospitals, develop school programs, drill water wells, assist the disabled or persons requiring special medical attention, provide resources for orphanages, create sanitation facilities, distribute food and medical supplies, and carry out many other forms of international community service in needy areas of the world. Some grants are for projects in the magnitude of from US$15,000 to US$50,000, but most are in the range of US$5,000 to US$10,000.
Matching Grants are not approved to purchase land or construct buildings, except for low-cost shelters for underprivileged families, and they may not be used for programs already underway or completed. Personal participation by Rotarians is required and the benefits should extend beyond the recipients.
The Matching Grants program is a very significant part of The Rotary Foundation and provides an important incentive for clubs to undertake worthwhile international service projects in another part of the world. They certainly foster goodwill and understanding, which is in keeping with the objectives of The Rotary Foundation.
Individual and District Simplified Grants
In 2002, The Rotary Foundation Trustees simplified the Humanitarian Grants structure and replaced some of the grants programs with Individual Grants and District Simplified Grants.
Individual Grants, which replaced Rotary Volunteers and Discovery grants, support the travel of individual Rotarians planning or implementing service projects abroad. Volunteers must serve in a country other than their own at the invitation of the host Rotary club.
District Simplified Grants serve the same needs as Helping Grants, Humanitarian Transportation Grants, Community Assistance Program Awards, and New Opportunity Grants, all of which were phased out on 1 January 2003. These grants, which support the service activities or humanitarian endeavors of districts, are funded by the District Designated Funds (DDF) of the participating district.
PolioPlus is Rotary’s massive effort to eradicate poliomyelitis from the world by 2005. It was launched in 1985 with the goal of raising US$120 million to immunize the developing world’s children against polio for five years. The PolioPlus fundraising campaign that concluded in 1988 raised a record $247 million, and by 2005, Rotarians’ contributions to the global polio-eradication effort will exceed $500 million. Of equal significance has been the huge volunteer army mobilized by Rotary International. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers at the local level are providing support during National Immunization Days and mobilizing their communities for immunization and other polio-eradication activities.
In 1988, Rotary joined the World Health Organization in committing itself to the eradication of polio by 2005, Rotary’s 100th anniversary. Rotary works with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national governments, and others, making this effort the world’s most extensive public/private health undertaking. As a result of the efforts of Rotary International and its partners, almost two billion children have received oral polio vaccine and are protected from poliomyelitis. WHO declared the Americas to be polio-free in 1994, the Western Pacific region in 2000, and the region of Europe in 2002.
As of 2002, the number of polio cases had been reduced by 99 percent since 1985. Efforts are focused on eradicating the virus in the 10 remaining polio-endemic countries — all in Africa and South Asia.
Achieving eradication will be difficult (only one other disease, smallpox, has ever been eradicated) and expensive (estimated total cost is nearly $3 billion). It requires polio-endemic, high-risk, and recently endemic countries to carry out National Immunization Days to immunize all children under the age of five, continuing routine immunization of children worldwide, systematic reporting of all suspected cases, rapid response to outbreaks, and establishment of laboratory networks.
In 2002, a $275 million funding gap was identified as the most significant obstacle to global eradication. To help fill that gap, Rotary launched a new polio eradication fundraising campaign called Fulfilling Our Promise: Eradicate Polio, which seeks to raise $80 million during the 2002-03 year.
No other nongovernmental organization has ever made a commitment of the scale of PolioPlus. It may be considered the greatest humanitarian service the world has ever seen. Every Rotarian can share the pride of that achievement.
Paul Harris Fellows
Undoubtedly, the most important step to promote voluntary giving to The Rotary Foundation occurred in 1957, when the idea of Paul Harris Fellow Recognition was first proposed. Although the concept of making US$1,000 gifts to the Foundation was slow in developing, by the early 1 970s it began to gain popularity. The distinctive Paul Harris Fellow medallion, lapel pin, and attractive certificate have become highly respected symbols of a substantial financial commitment to The Rotary Foundation by Rotarians and friends around the world. By 2002, some 813,000 Paul Harris Fellows had been added to the rolls of The Rotary Foundation.
The companion to the Paul Harris Fellow is the Rotary Foundation Sustaining Member, which is the recognition presented to an individual who has given, or in whose honor a gift is made, a contribution of $100, with the stated intention of making additional contributions until $1,000 is reached. At that time, the Sustaining Member becomes a Paul Harris Fellow.
A special recognition pin is given to Paul Harris Fellows who make additional gifts of $1,000 to the Foundation. The distinctive gold pin includes a blue stone to represent each $1,000 contribution — from $2,000 to $6,000. Red stone pins signify gifts of $7,000 to $9,000. Paul Harris Fellow Recognition provides a very important incentive for the continuing support needed to underwrite the many programs of The Rotary Foundation that build goodwill and understanding in the world.
Citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Award
Two very special awards of recognition occasionally are presented by the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation to Rotarians who render outstanding service to the Foundation. The Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service recognizes significant and dedicated service by a Rotarian to promote Foundation programs and thus advance the Foundation’s goal of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world.
The second award, called The Rotary Foundation Distinguished Service Award, is presented to a Rotarian whose outstanding record of service to The Rotary Foundation is on a much broader basis and spreads beyond the district level and continues over an extended period of time. The Distinguished Service Award acknowledges the efforts of a Rotarian who has already received the Citation of Meritorious Service, for continuing to promote international understanding.
Both of these select awards are presented for exemplary personal service and devotion to the Foundation rather than for financial contributions. No more than 50 Distinguished Service Awards are granted by the Trustees in any one year, and there is only one recipient of a Citation for Meritorious Service in any district each year. A recipient of the Citation for Meritorious Service is not eligible for nomination for a Distinguished Service Award until four full years have elapsed.
It is a very proud distinction for any Rotarian to be selected for one of these high levels of recognition by The Rotary Foundation Trustees.
Public Relations of Rotary
Historically, Rotarians perpetuated a myth that Rotary should not seek publicity, but rather let our good works speak for themselves. A 1923 policy stating that “publicity should not be the primary goal of a Rotary club in selecting an activity” of community service was frequently interpreted to mean that Rotary clubs should avoid publicity and public relations efforts. Actually, the 1923 statement further observed that “as a means of extending Rotary’s influence, proper publicity should be given to a worthwhile project well carried out.”
A more modern public relations philosophy was adopted in the mid-i 970s that affirms that “good publicity, favorable public relations, and a positive image are desirable and essential goals for Rotary’ if it is to foster understanding, appreciation, and support for its Object and programs and to broaden Rotary’s service to humanity. Today, most Rotarians recognize that active public relations is vital to the success of Rotary.
A service project well carried out is considered one of the finest public relations messages of Rotary. It is essential that Rotary clubs make every effort to inform the public of such projects.
As Rotary clubs and districts consider effective public relations, it is important to remember that when Rotarians think of Rotary, we think of our noble goals and motives. But when the world thinks of Rotary, it can only think of our actions and the service we have performed.
The RI Web Site
Since the late 1990s, Rotary International has been using the Internet to communicate with its members and to showcase Rotary’s many programs and activities. The official RI Web site at www.rotary.org also allows members to conduct Rotary business online — from ordering publications to making contributions to The Rotary Foundation to registering for the RI Convention and other meetings.
Club officers can enter the site’s Business Portal and make changes to their club’s membership information. Using the Where Clubs Meet function, members can easily identify places to do make ups. The site’s Download Center offers an array of publications and forms, making it more convenient and less expensive for Rotarians to access Rotary materials. Language communities provide essential Rotary information in eight languages and link to official language sites maintained by Rotarians around the world.
The RI Web site offers a vast amount of information — including the latest Rotary news. A visit to www.rotary.org will be enlightening to all Rotarians.
Use of Rotary Marks
The Rotary International emblem and the word “Rotary” are among the many words and logos used as trademarks and service marks by RI and by Rotarians and Rotary clubs around the world and collectively referred to as the “Rotary marks.” The Rotary marks are registered in more than 40 countries, which enhances the association’s exclusive use of the marks and strengthens RI’s position to prevent misuse by unauthorized individuals and entities. The RI Board of Directors has developed guidelines for the use of the Rotary marks by Rotarians, Rotary clubs and districts, and other Rotary entities, which appear in the Rotary Code of Policies and the Manual of Procedure.
It is the privilege and responsibility of all Rotarians to wear and use the Rotary marks with pride. Following the Board’s guidelines for use of the Rotary marks will help to ensure that they are not misused and that they wll always be preserved for the use and benefit of Rotarians.
When used by themselves, the word “Rotary” and the Rotary emblem normally refer to the entire organization, Rotary International, and its ideals and principles. When using the word “Rotary” or the Rotary emblem in connection with or in the name of an activity, clubs, districts, and other Rotary entities should add their name as a further identifier in close proximity to and in equal prominence with any Rotary marks. This will ensure that full recognition is given to your club or district. Clubs or districts should not use the Rotary marks in connection with activities that are not under their control or in the name of any organization that includes non-Rotarian individuals or groups. When naming a club or district foundation activity, separate the words “Rotary” and “Foundation” with at least one other word — for example, the Rotary Sedona West Foundation or Chicago Rotary Club Foundation.
When using the Rotary marks, clubs and districts should not alter, modify, or obstruct them in any way or reproduce them in any way other than their complete form. The Rotary emblem may be reproduced in any one color; if it is to be reproduced in more than one color, it must be done in the official colors of blue and gold. Rotarians are encouraged to purchase merchandise bearing the Rotary marks only from authorized licensees of RI to ensure that the marks are reproduced correctly and that they are not being used by unauthorized vendors. Rotarians are also encouraged to wear the emblem as a lapel button, but the emblem should not be used on business stationery, business cards, or on the doors or windows of Rotarians’ business premises.
The Rotary emblem should not be used for any commercial purpose. The Rotary marks are the symbols of the Rotary clubs and the service they provide and should be used only to identify clubs and their members, projects, and programs. It is therefore not permissible to use the Rotary marks in a political campaign or in connection with any other name or emblem not recognized by Rotary International. Rotary entities wishing to use the Rotary marks for sponsorship or partnership purposes should contact their Club and District Administration representative at the RI Secretariat for the most current RI Board guidelines. The Rotary marks can be downloaded from the RI Web site at www.rotary.org.
36 The ABCs of Rotary
Special Rotary Observances – In the annual Rotary calendar several months and weeks are designated to emphasize major programs of Rotary International.
- January is Rotary Awareness Month. This is a time to expand knowledge of Rotary and its activities among our membership and throughout the community.
- February is designated as World Understanding Month. This month was chosen because it includes the birthday of Rotary International, 23 February. During the month, Rotary clubs are urged to present programs that promote international understanding and goodwill, as well as launch World Community Service projects in other parts of the world.
- World Rotaract Week is the week in which 13 March falls. It’s a time when Rotary clubs and districts highlight Rotaract by joining in projects with their Rotaract clubs.
- April is set aside as Magazine Month. Throughout the month, clubs arrange programs and activities that promote the reading and use of The Rotarian magazine and the official regional magazines of Rotary.
- June is Fellowships Month, a time to increase interest and membership in one of the dozens of Rotary Fellowships and celebrate the ideal of service through common hobbies and professions.
- July is Literacy Month, a time for clubs to develop their own literacy projects, as well as raise awareness of Rotarians’ efforts worldwide to eradicate illiteracy.
- August is Membership and Extension Month, a time to focus on Rotary’s continuing need for growth, to seek new members and form new clubs.
- September is New Generations Month, when Rotary clubs of the world give special emphasis to the many Rotary-sponsored programs that serve children and young people.
- October is Vocational Service Month. During this period, clubs highlight the importance of the business and professional life of each Rotarian and emphasize the Rotarian practice of high ethical standards.
- November is Rotary Foundation Month. Clubs and districts call attention to the programs of The Rotary Foundation and frequently cultivate additional financial support for the Foundation by promoting contributions for Paul Harris Fellows and Sustaining Members.
- World Interact Week, the week in which 5 November falls, is a time for sponsoring Rotary clubs to plan joint projects with their Interact clubs.
- Each of these special times serves to elevate the awareness among Rotarians of some of the excellent programs of service to be found in the world of Rotary.
Organizing New Clubs and Extending Rotary Steady growth in new clubs is extremely important in extending the worldwide programs and influence of Rotary International. In fact, in recent years, new clubs have been the impetus in supporting membership increases. New Rotary clubs may be established anywhere in the world where the fundamental principles of Rotary may be freely observed and wherever it can reasonably be expected that a successful club can be maintained. For example, many of the new clubs formed since 1990 have been in the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe. The RI Board of Directors must approve the extension of Rotary into countries where clubs have not previously existed.
A club must be organized to serve a specific “locality” in which there are enough business or professional persons of good character engaged in leadership, proprietary, or management positions and where there are opportunities for Rotary service. A minimum of 40 potential classifications is necessary for a proposed new club, and from that list a permanent membership of at least 20 members must be enrolled.
District governors are responsible for approving and monitoring the formation of new clubs. The governor appoints a special representative to guide the organization of a new club, with the first step being to conduct a survey of the locality to determine the potential for a new club. Among the requirements for a new club is the adoption of the Standard Rotary Club Constitution, a minimum of 20 charter members with clearly established classifications, election of officers, payment of a charter fee, weekly meetings of the provisional club, and the adoption of a club name that will distinctly identify it with its locality. A provisional club becomes a Rotary club when its charter is approved by the RI Board of Directors.
It is a great opportunity and special duty of all Rotarians to assist and cooperate in organizing new clubs. New clubs strengthen Rotary’s long-term viability and its commitment to humanitarian service throughout the world.
Colorful Governors’ Jackets
One of the newest Rotary traditions began in 1984-8 5 when the district governors decided to wear a distinctive yellow sport coat to official Rotary events. In succeeding years, the president of Rotary International has selected a colorful jacket for the district governors and other international officers of Rotary. The distinctive yellow jacket of Carlos Canseco was followed by such blazing colors as Paulo Costas’s green coats (1990-91), Clifford Dochterman’s red coats (1992-93), Luis Giay’s brick coats (1996-97), and Glen Kinross’ sea foam green coats (1997-98). President Rajendra Saboo selected wheat-colored tan (199 1-92) and Hugh Archer picked maroon (1989-90). Other traditional navy blue jackets were worn during the years of Charles Keller (1987-88), Bill Huntley (1994-95), Herbert Brown (1995-96), and James Lacy (1998-99). An array of colors and shades has been picked by other presidents. Rotarian leaders annually speculate on the jacket color to be worn by the incoming world Rotary president.
Copyright © 2003 Rotary International