“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves.”
—Paul P. Harris
Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.
Our ongoing commitment
Rotarians have not only been present for major events in history—we’ve been a part of them. From the beginning, three key traits have remained strong throughout Rotary:
We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today we’re working together from around the globe both digitally and in-person to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.
We persevere in tough times. During WWII, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Japan were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally and following the war’s end, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.
Our commitment to service is ongoing. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By 2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down from 125 in 1988
Do you know what we’re doing in your community—and around the world?
Rotary members unite at home and across the globe to put our experience and knowledge to work tackling our most pressing challenges. We focus our efforts in six areas: promoting peace, preventing diseases, providing access to clean water and sanitation, enhancing maternal and child health, improving basic education and literacy, and helping communities develop.
We are especially dedicated to ending polio in our lifetimes. Rotary members have persevered in this fight since 1979 and have now helped eradicate polio in all but three countries worldwide.
When you give to Rotary, you support the work we do in your community and around the world. We are a responsible organization that uses nearly 90% of our funding for program expenses.