We unite leaders from all continents, cultures, and occupations to exchange ideas and take action in communities around the world. The following principles have been developed over the years to provide Rotarians with a strong, common purpose and direction. They serve as a foundation for our relationships with each other and the action we take in the world.

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:

FIRST: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
SECOND: 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;
THIRD: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
FOURTH: The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

For more than 110 years, Rotary members have been addressing challenges around the world.

Grassroots at the core, Rotary links 1.2 million members to form an organization of international scope. It started with the vision of one man — Paul Harris. The Chicago attorney formed the Rotary Club of Chicago on 23 February 1905, so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.

Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of its members.

Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves.

Rotary members have not only been present for major events in history — we’ve also been a part of them. Three key traits have remained strong throughout our history:

We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today, members in nearly every country work to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.

We persevere in tough times. During World War II, Rotary clubs in Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally, and after the war, Rotary members came together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.

We’re committed to service, and we’re not afraid to dream big and set bold goals. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. Today, polio remains endemic in only three countries — down from 125 in 1988.

Rotary is made up of three parts: our clubs, Rotary International, and The Rotary Foundation. Together, we work to make lasting change in our communities and around the world.

Rotary’s programs are developing the next generation of leaders, providing funding to make the world a better place, and making peace a priority. And our programs are not just for club members. Learn how you can make a difference in your community through Rotary.

THE FOUR-WAY TEST

The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings:

Of the things we think, say or do

Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

AVENUES OF SERVICE

We channel our commitment to service at home and abroad through five Avenues of Service, which are the foundation of club activity.

CLUB SERVICE focuses on making clubs strong. A thriving club is anchored by strong relationships and an active membership development plan.

VOCATIONAL SERVICE calls on every Rotarian to work with integrity and contribute their expertise to the problems and needs of society.

COMMUNITY SERVICE encourages every Rotarian to find ways to improve the quality of life for people in their communities and to serve the public interest.

INTERNATIONAL SERVICE exemplifies our global reach in promoting peace and understanding. We support this service avenue by sponsoring or volunteering on international projects, seeking partners abroad, and more.

YOUTH SERVICE recognizes the importance of empowering youth and young professionals through leadership development programs such as Rotaract, Interact, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and Rotary Youth Exchange.