What is Rotary?

Rotary is a worldwide organisation of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. 

The roots of the organisation go back to February 23, 1905 when Chicago lawyer Paul P Harris called three friends to a meeting. His vision was to form a club that would encourage fellowship amongst members of the business community, an idea originating from his desire to find the kind of friendly spirit he had known in the villages where he had grown up. Little did the four businessmen know that they had created the first ever Rotary Club.

Today approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 32,000 clubs in more than 200 countries around the world. Rotary membership represents a cross-section of the community's business and professional men and women. The world's Rotary clubs meet weekly and are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds.


The main objective of Rotary is service - in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians develop community service projects that address many of today's most critical issues, such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy, and violence. They also support programmes for youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers, and other professionals, and vocational and career development. The Rotary motto is Service Above Self.

Object of Rotary

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster: 

1st   The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service
2nd  High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society
3rd  The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life
4th   The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

Four Avenues of Service

Based on the Object of Rotary, the Four Avenues of Service are Rotary's philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on which club activity is based:

    1. Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club.
    2. Vocational Service encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practise high ethical standards.
    3. Community Service covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community.
    4. International Service encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary's humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.