Rotary Emblem
"Service above Self"
Rotary Club of Owensboro, Kentucky
About Rotary

Avenues of Service  |  The Object of Rotary  |  The 4-Way Test

What is Rotary?
Rotary is...

Rotary clubs participate in a broad range of humanitarian, intercultural, and educational activities designed to improve the human condition. Rotary’s humanitarian grants support club projects that provide health care and medical supplies, clean water, food, job training, youth development, and education to millions of people in need — particularly in the developing world.

Rotary builds understanding through international scholarships, exchange programs, and humanitarian grants. In 2002, Rotary launched the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution, an innovative program designed to educate tomorrow’s peacemakers. Some 35,000 students from 110 countries have also studied abroad since 1947 as Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars. Rotary’s Group Study Exchange has helped more than 45,000 young professionals explore their career fields in other countries. And, each year some 8,000 secondary-school students experience life in another country through Rotary’s Youth Exchange program.

Polio Eradication
In 1985, Rotary launched PolioPlus, an ambitious program to immunize the world’s children against polio. Rotary’s grassroots leadership, volunteer support, and initial funding for vaccine provided the catalyst for the World Health Assembly’s resolution in 1988 to eradicate polio worldwide. Spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are the World Health Organization, Rotary International, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF. As a result of this partnership’s efforts, polio cases have dropped by 99 percent since 1988, and the world stands on the threshold of eradicating the disease.

Paul P. Harris formed the world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905. The Rotary motto is Service Above Self and Rotary continues to concern itself with truth, fairness, improved relations between peoples, and world peace. During World War II, Rotary members increasingly became involved in promoting international understanding. A Rotary conference held in London in 1942 planted the seeds for the development of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and some 50 Rotary members served as delegates and consultants at the founding of the United Nations. Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status with the United Nations that a nongovernmental organization can obtain. In this capacity, Rotary has a voice within the UN system allowing access to its people and resources worldwide.

Belonging to a Rotary club gives men and women an enjoyable and organized way to make a contribution to their community. Rotary members meet weekly to plan club, community, and international service activities. By using their skills and expertise globally, members also enhance their professional network, career development, and cross-cultural understanding. Rotary clubs are nonreligious, nongovernmental, and open to every race, culture, and creed. Members represent a cross section of local business and professional leaders.

Avenues of Service

One of Rotary's mottoes is "Service Above Self." There are four avenues through which Rotarians carry out this service:

  • Club Service involves all of the activities necessary for Rotarians to perform to make their club function successfully.
  • Vocational Service is a description of the opportunity each Rotarian has to represent the dignity and utility of one's vocation to other members of the club.
  • Community Service pertains to those activities which Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community.
  • International Service describes the many programs and activities which Rotarians undertake to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace.

The Object of Rotary

Rotary's purpose is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. This "ideal of service" is fostered through the:

  • Development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service
  • Promotion of high ethical standards in business and professions
  • Service in one's personal, business and community life
  • Advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace.

The 4-Way Test

One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is the Rotary "4-Way Test." Conceived by Chicago Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932, it remains a convenient measuring stick for all human relations.

Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the Truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build good will and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?


Visit Rotary International on the web  to learn more about the organization and its initiatives

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