What is Rotary?

The first Rotary club was founded in 1905 when four friends met in Chicago to discuss how they could work together to help the wider community. Rotary has since grown internationally to more than 1.2 million members across 200 countries.

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

Our organisation started when Paul Harris, a Chicago attorney, had an idea of forming a club where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the early practice of rotating meetings between the offices of each member.

In 1914 the organisation moved across the Atlantic and the British Association of Rotary Clubs was established. The association was renamed Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland in 1924.

Today Rotary continues to respond to the needs of an ever changing world, whilst retaining its strong founding principles.

We are community champions who stand up for our communities both locally and overseas. We support those who need help, we strive to improve lives and we bring about positive change in our neighbourhoods. Every event, initiative or project that we run – whether it is local, national,international or online – is rooted in the notion of community. This is because we believe that society works better when communities work together.

Local

Our clubs carry out a huge range of activities and projects at home aimed at improving and building community spirit. Many charities are appreciative of their local Rotary club for the money they receive through initiatives such as sponsored bike rides, Christmas collections and swimathons. A huge amount of hands on work is also carried out by members, such as organising and supervising days out for disadvantaged children, volunteering at local residential homes, and working with schools to run competitions. The list of local projects and initiatives is endless. Each Rotary club individually tailors the projects they get involved in to their community’s specific needs.

National

Across Great Britain and Ireland, clubs often come together to collectively support our national initiatives such as Know Your Blood Pressure Day and Community Emergency Support, which provides assistance to communities following major emergencies or disasters. Our clubs support a range of national charities and often collectively support other national initiatives such as Children in Need. We also pull together to help communities elsewhere in Great Britain and Ireland who find themselves in need.

International

Our members carry out a wealth of international programmes and activities all over the world, reaching out to people in need. In many countries, millions die of starvation and from diseases that could be prevented by clean water, proper sanitation or medicines. Rotary members in Great Britain and Ireland use their skills and links to clubs in other countries to alleviate some of the causes of poverty. Other projects include eradication of hunger and malnutrition; reduction of child mortality, disease prevention and education for all. When natural disasters strike, anywhere in the world, Rotarians are usually the first people to take action, organising collections and raising large sums of money for the various charities that are best equipped to provide relief for those in need.