Rotary International is a volunteer organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service, and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are approximately 1.2 million Rotary club members belonging to 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.
Founded in Chicago in 1905, Rotary celebrated 100 years of service in 2005. The Rotary Foundation has awarded more than US$2.1 billion in grants, which are administered at the local level by Rotary clubs.
What is the purpose of Rotary?
Rotary clubs exist to improve communities through a range of humanitarian, intercultural and educational activities. Clubs advance international understanding by partnering with clubs in other countries. Rotary also encourages high ethical standards in all vocations.
What is the 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:
1. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
2. 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;
3. The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
4. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
The Four-Way Test:
From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.
This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:
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?
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:
Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club.
Vocational Service encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practice high ethical standards.
Community Service covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community.
International Service encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary’s humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.
What do Rotary clubs do?
Rotary clubs address critical issues at home and abroad by providing health care and medical supplies, clean water, food, job training, youth development, and education to millions of people in need.
In 1985, Rotary International created PolioPlus – a program to immunize all the world’s children against polio. To date, Rotary has contributed more than US$1 billion and countless volunteer hours to the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries. Rotary is currently working to raise an additional US$200 million toward a US$355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These efforts are providing much needed polio vaccine, operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment and educational materials for health workers and parents. In addition, Rotary has played a major role in decisions by donor governments to contribute over $6 billion to the effort. With its community-based network worldwide, Rotary is the volunteer arm of the global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. Rotary volunteers assist in vaccine delivery, social mobilization and logistical help in cooperation with the national health ministries, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In an effort to educate tomorrow’s peacemakers and ambassadors, up to 110 Rotary World Peace Fellows are sponsored each year to study at one of the eight universities for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution. Since 2002, 431 fellows from over 75 countries have participated at a cost of more than $23 million.
Rotary is the world’s largest privately-funded source of international scholarships. Each year, about 1,000 university students receive Rotary scholarships to study abroad. Rotary clubs also coordinate a high school- age student exchange program that has sent nearly 8,000 students abroad for three months to a year.
Rotary clubs initiate thousands of humanitarian service projects every year. These volunteer- driven projects address the root causes of conflict, such as hunger, poverty, disease and illiteracy.
Rotary clubs work to improve literacy rates worldwide. A unique, Rotary-pioneered approach called the Concentrated Language Encounter (CLE) has proven very effective in resource-strapped developing countries. It was so successful in Thailand, that the Thai government adopted the program nationwide.
Recognizing the importance of clean water, many Rotary clubs help to install wells and develop water treatment and distribution systems to increase access to fresh drinking water for communities in need, especially in developing countries.
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