Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.

Solving real problems takes real commitment and vision. For more than 110 years, Rotary’s people of action have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to act on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, we are always working to better our world, and we stay committed to the end.

1.1 Rotary History

Rotary 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 and form meaningful, lifelong friendships.

Over time, Rotary’s reach and vision gradually extended to humanitarian service. Members have a long track record of addressing challenges in their communities and around the world.

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

– Paul Harris, Rotary Founder

Rotary Ongoing commitment endures today through an organization that remains truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Rotary members now span the globe, working to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.

Rotary members are not afraid to dream big and set bold goals. Rotary began 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.

  • The Rotary Foundation transforms gifts it receives into service projects that change lives both close to home and around the world.

Since it was founded more than 100 years ago, the Foundation has spent more than $4 billion on life-changing, sustainable projects. With individuals, corporates & organizations help, Rotary can make lives better in local community and around the world.

The mission of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

The Rotary Foundation is organized as a public charity operated exclusively for charitable purposes and governed by a Board of Trustees. The operations of Rotary International, a member organization, are overseen by its Board of Directors.

The headquarters of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation are in Evanston, Illinois, USA. We have associate foundations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

1.2 Rotary International Focus Area

Rotary members believe that we have a shared responsibility to take action on our world’s most persistent issues. Rotary International (RI) 35,000+ clubs work together to:

1.2.1 Promote Peace

Conflict and violence displaced more than 68 million people in the past year, and half of those are children.

We refuse to accept conflict as a way of life. Rotary projects provide training that fosters understanding and provides communities with the skills to resolve conflicts.

Rotary through our service projects, peace fellowships, and scholarships, our members are taking action to address the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.

1.2.2 Fight Disease

Rotary believes good health care is everyone’s right. Yet 400 million people in the world can’t afford or don’t have access to basic health care.

Disease results in misery, pain, and poverty for millions of people worldwide. That’s why treating and preventing disease is so important to us. We lead efforts both large and small. We set up temporary clinics, blood donation centers, and training facilities in underserved communities struggling with outbreaks and health care access. We design and build infrastructure that allows doctors, patients, and governments to work together.

Our members combat diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and polio. Prevention is important, which is why we also focus on health education and bringing people routine hearing, vision, and dental care.

1.2.3 Provide Clean water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education are basic necessities for a healthy environment and a productive life.

When people have access to clean water and sanitation, waterborne diseases decrease, children stay healthier and attend school more regularly, and mothers can spend less time carrying water and more time helping their families.

Through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, Rotary’s people of action mobilize resources, form partnerships, and invest in infrastructure and training that yield long-term change.

1.2.4 Save Mothers and Children

Rotary makes high-quality health care available to vulnerable mothers and children so they can live longer and grow stronger.

We expand access to quality care, so mothers and children everywhere can have the same opportunities for a healthy future. An estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five die each year because of malnutrition, inadequate health care, and poor sanitation — all of which can be prevented.

Rotary provides education, immunizations, birth kits, and mobile health clinics. Women are taught how to prevent mother-to-infant HIV transmission, how to breast-feed, and how to protect themselves and their children from disease.

1.2.5 Support Education

More than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate. That’s 17 percent of the world’s adult population.

Our goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy. We support education for all children and literacy for children and adults.

Rotary members take action to empower educators to inspire learning at all ages.

1.2.6 Grow Local Economies

Nearly 800 million people live on less than $1.90 a day. Rotary members are passionate about providing sustainable solutions to poverty.

Our members and our foundation work to strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly women, in impoverished communities.

Rotary members provide training and access to well-paying jobs and financial management institutions. We create opportunities to help individuals and communities thrive financially and socially.

1.2.7 Disaster Response

With more than 1.2 million members worldwide, Rotarians are on the ground and ready to take action to help communities recover when disasters strike.

Rotary members and The Rotary Foundation play a unique role in disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts. Working closely with our partner ShelterBox and other organizations that specialize in disaster relief, Rotary members lead projects to support every phase of a community’s recovery.

Rotary supports three phases of relief:

  • Immediate response: Our local clubs and partners immediately offer helping hands and supplies.
  • Short-term assistance: Our clubs and districts help affected communities wherever we can through funds and materials to re-establish day-to-day operations.

Long-term rebuilding: Our clubs plan and implement projects that rebuild affected communities.