top of page

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

Paul P. Harris


Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.

Rotarians have not only been present for major events in history—we’ve been a part of them. From the beginning, three key traits have remained strong throughout Rotary:

  1. We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today we’re working together from around the globe both digitally and in-person to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.

  2. We persevere in tough times. During WWII, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Japan were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally and following the war’s end, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.

  3. Our commitment to service is ongoing. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By 2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down from 125 in 1988.

Our distinct point of view and approach gives us unique advantages:

  • 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.

Video Credit: Rotary International

Our impact starts with our members—people who work tirelessly with their clubs to solve some of our communities' toughest challenges. Their efforts are supported by Rotary International, our member association, and The Rotary Foundation, which turns generous donations into grants that fund the work of our members and partners around the world. Rotary is led by our members—responsible leaders who help to carry forward our organization's mission and values in their elected roles.

We've been making history and bringing our world closer together for over 100 years. Since forming in 1905, we've taken on some of the world's toughest challenges and helped a wide range of international and service organizations—from the UN to Easter Seals—get started.

Rotarians are your neighbors, your community leaders and some of the world’s greatest history-makers: 

  • Neil Armstrong - Rotary Club of Wapakoneta, OH - Astronaut & first man to walk on the moon

  • Sir Edmund Hillary - Rotary Club of Auckland - New Zealand mountaineer, explorer and philanthropist and the first person to reach the top of Mt. Everest.

  • Charles Lindberg - Rotary Club of Edinburgh - American aviator

  • Thomas A. Edison - Rotary Club of Orange, NJ - Inventor

  • Guglielmo Marconi - Rotary Club of Bologna, Italy - Inventor of the wireless, 1909 Nobel Prize recipient for physics

  • Orville Wright - Rotary Club of Dayton, OH - Co-inventor of the first successful airplane

  • HRH Prince Charles - Rotary Club of Banchory-Ternan - Prince of England

  • HRH Prince Phillip - Rotary Club of Edinburgh - Prince of England

  • Sir Winston Churchill - Rotary Club of London - Prime Minister, England & Leader of UK during WWII

  • John F. Kennedy - Rotary Club of Hyannis, MA - President, USA

  • Walt Disney - Rotary Club of Palm Springs, CA - Animation filmmaker

  • Pope Francis - Rotary Club of Buenos Aires - Pope

  • Luciano Pavarotti - Rotary Club of Modena - Italian opera singer


Ready to make history with us? Get involved.

We have identified specific causes to target to maximize our local and global impact. At the same time, we understand that each community has its own unique needs and concerns. Through our network of resources and partners, we help clubs focus their service efforts in promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies.


Responsible leadership means more than just doing good work—it means making the most out of every donation we receive.

What Is Rotary ?

What Makes Us Different?
How Do We Work?
How Did We Get Here?
Our Commitment is Ongoing
Notable Rotarians
How Do We Use Our Funds?
What Causes Do We Support?
bottom of page