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 take action 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.
Learn more about our structure and our foundation and our strategic vision.
What we do
Rotary members believe that we have a shared responsibility to take action on our world’s most persistent issues. Our 35,000+ clubs work together to:
- Promote peace
- Fight disease
- Provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
- Save mothers and children
- Support education
- Grow local economies
We provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through our fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.
We work differently
We see differently: Our multidisciplinary perspective helps us see challenges in unique ways.
We think differently: We apply leadership and expertise to social issues — and find unique solutions.
We act responsibly: Our passion and perseverance create lasting change.
We make a difference at home and around the world: Our members can be found in your community and across the globe.
History of Rotary
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.”
– Paul Harris, Rotary founder
Our ongoing commitment
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.