What is Rotary?

Rotary is an international organisation creating opportunities for professionals and those in business to use their vocational skills in assisting their communities the world over. Rotarians contribute time and expertise to make a difference – helping those who need it and encouraging youth to reach their potential. If you’ve ever asked yourself ‘What can I do?’ ‘join Rotary’ may be the answer.

Rotary International is a global network based within local communities providing aid and assistance throughout the world. An example of an ongoing international Rotary project is the universal eradication of polio by ensuring, among other things, that all children have access to immunisation.

Rotary International is one of the world's largest service organizations with 32,000 autonomous clubs in 166 countries, all providing an up-to-date and progressive representation of a community's business, vocational, and professional interests.

Some facts:

Rotary was founded by Paul Harris in 1905 in Chicago, USA.

There are more than 1.2 million Rotarians world-wide in over 150 countries – a new Rotary club is established somewhere in the world every 12 hours!

Rotary has a seat in the General Assembly of the United Nations in recognition of the efforts of its membership to foster goodwill and peace across national boundaries.

Rotary is the world’s largest Non-Government Foundation providing educational and humanitarian aid.

Rotary is non-political and non-religious, recognising the needs of all people to work together to achieve world-wide peace and prosperity.

The Object of Rotary

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise, expressed as these four principles:

First The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;

Second  High ethical standards in business and professions, recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying by each Rotarian of his/her occupation as an opportunity to serve society;

Third The application of the ideal of service by every Rotarian to his/her personal, business and community life;

Fourth The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional people united in the ideal of service.

How is Rotary Structured? 

The power of Rotary comes from club membership. Each club is chartered by Rotary International with an approved constitution. Clubs are autonomous and make their own decisions regarding initiating and supporting projects. This autonomy allows for wide diversity between clubs around the world while they maintain principles in common and dedication to “service above self”.  Each club elects a President for a term of 12 months so that all members who wish to serve through leadership have an opportunity to direct the club’s activities. Rotary clubs have a board of directors representing essential tasks and committees:-

  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Community Service
  • International Service
  • New Generation (previously Youth)
  • Vocational Service
  • Club Service

Becoming a Rotarian

A Rotarian is a member of a Rotary Club that adheres to Rotary principles of service through friendship.  Members are asked to contribute their skills and talents towards projects to benefit the community. A Rotarian is always welcome as a visitor at any Rotary club anywhere in the world – this opportunity to sample hospitality and share companionship with others from many cultures is a major benefit of membership.

Individual effort is a fine thing but there’s no limit to what can be achieved by working with others – as a Rotary Club member you enjoy the benefits of forming a wide circle of friends while using your skills to make the world a better place.

As a Rotarian you represent your industry or profession within your club, ensuring that project teams comprise members from a variety of backgrounds and vocations. Rotarians agree on the need to maintain high ethical standards in their professional lives, and to promote goodwill and encourage peaceful coexistence at all levels of society. Clubs aim to continually expand their membership.

Membership to a Rotary club is by invitation. A prospective member must:

  • hold — or be retired from — a professional, proprietary, executive, or managerial position;
  • have the capacity to meet the club's weekly attendance or community project participation requirements;
  • live or work within the locality of the club or the surrounding area.

What does a Rotarian do?

Each member contributes time and skills to work on projects as part of a team. Your skills may include leadership, project management, organisation and people management, creativity and innovation, communication, technological skills – your desire to lend a hand is the most useful thing you have to offer.
Projects vary from small to large depending on the club’s resources and availability of members. Even small projects can have significant benefits to our community. Some examples:

Training young people in problem solving techniques, leadership skills and stress management helps them cope with a world of great expectations coupled with high unemployment.
Involvement in projects which beautify or conserve our community’s environment, demonstrates our commitment to future generations.

Showing compassion and assisting those less able to cope in our society due to temporary or permanent disadvantage works towards preventing a divisive ‘them and us’ attitude in the community.

Projects like these can enrich the lives of many and often require only small amounts of time and money. Rotarians believe it is important to use our talents to bridge the gap between those with less than ourselves, to bind our community together and create common goals and aspirations for a better society.

Rotarians act as facilitators: providing the will to make things happen and using our energy and skills to ensure a project’s success. Individual clubs determine the projects they will undertake. Larger projects, both local and international, can involve the raising of funds through a variety of means such as:

  • Organisation of major events
  • Recruitment of sponsors and benefactors
  • Coordination of available grants and government funds

How Much Time is Required?

Members contribute to Rotary according to changing demands of family and work commitments. Rotary as an organisation recognises the need for members to place family and employment ahead of volunteer activities.

Clubs meet weekly throughout the year over lunch to hear guest speakers address varied and relevant topics. Members are encouraged to also work on one of the club’s project committees or take up a Board position, meeting once a month to plan and report on projects under their direction.

What would I be doing?

Each member contributes their time and skills working on projects as part of a team. Your skills may include leadership, project management, organisation and people management, creativity and innovation, communication, technology skills – and most useful of all, a desire to lend a hand.

Projects vary from small to very large depending on the club’s resources and availability of members. Even small projects can have significant benefits to our community. For example:

Providing training for young people in problem solving techniques, leadership skills and stress management to help them cope with a world of great expectations coupled with high unemployment

Involvement in projects which beautify or conserve our community’s environment, demonstrating our commitment to future generations

Assisting those less able to cope in our society due to temporary or permanent disadvantages, showing compassion and working to prevent a “them and us” attitude which can divide our society

Often these projects require small amounts of time and money and yet they enrich the lives of many in our local communities. Rotarians believe it is important to use our talents to bridge the gap between those with less than ourselves, to bind our community together and create common goals and aspirations for a better society.

Larger projects may be initiated which fund the work of professionals to perform the tasks required to assist those in need both locally and internationally. Rotarians are facilitators; we provide the will to make things happen and then we use our energy and skills to ensure the success of the project. Sometimes this requires the raising of funds through a variety of means such as:

  • Organisation of major events
  • Recruitment of sponsors and benefactors
  • Coordination of available grants and government funds

Each club determines its own focus and the members agree on the projects to be undertaken. You will be able to contribute your specific skills and talents to these projects and thereby achieve success as a member of the team.


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