History of Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation.



Our current 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. Harry Ruggles was the fifth Rotarian, designer of the rotary logo and the first leader of singing at Rotary meetings. As Rotary grew, its Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. Our dedication to this ideal is best expressed in Rotary’s motto: SERVICE ABOVE SELF!

Rotary’s popularity grew and by 1921, Rotary Clubs had been formed on six continents. It was then incorporated as Rotary International (RI). By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members. The organisation’s distinguished reputation attracted presidents, prime ministers, and a host of luminaries to its ranks – all equal in the eyes, work, fellowship, and service of Rotary. Members had fellowships, sang together, identified community projects, contributed, and did good around the world!

The Rotary Foundation was born as an endowment fund in 1917, the brainchild of RI President Arch C. Klumph. It was reborn 12 years later in the form we know today, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary international. However, it wouldn’t be until after the passing of Paul P. Harris in 1947 that TRF would reach the financial health and world importance that it enjoys today. Technically speaking, it is a not-for-profit corporation that supports the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational, and cultural exchange

programs. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.

Its expenses are born solely by the interest earned on its members contributions over a three year period. All contributions made by members and donors therefore go 100% to projects and causes.

The Humanitarian Programs of the foundation help fuel international Rotary projects to improve the quality of life, providing health care, clean water, food, education, and other essential needs primarily in the developing world.