ABC's of Rotary

Definition of Rotary 

How do you describe the organization called "Rotary"? There are so many characteristics of a Rotary club as well as the activities of a million Rotarians. There are the features of service, internationality, fellowship, classifi­cations of each vocation, development of goodwill and world understand­ing, the emphasis of high ethical standards, concern for other people and many more.

In 1976 the Rotary International Board of Directors was interested in creating a concise definition of the fundamental aspects of Rotary. They turned to the three men who were then serving on Rotary's Public Rela­tions Committee and requested that a one-sentence definition of Rotary he prepared. After numerous drafts, the committee presented this definition, which has been used ever since in various Rotary publications:

"Rotary is an organization of business and professional persons united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world."

Those 31 words are worth remembering when someone asks, "What is a Rotary club?"

Object of Rotary

In some areas of the world weekly Rotary club meetings begin with all members standing and reciting the Object of Rotary. This statement, which comes from the Constitution of Rotary, is frequently seen on a wall plaque in Rotarians' offices or places of business.

The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The statement then lists four areas by which this "ideal of service" is fostered: through the development of acquaintance as the opportunity for service; the promotion of high ethical standards in business and professions; through service in one's personal, business and community life; and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace.

The Object of Rotary has not always been expressed in this manner. The original Constitution of 1906 had three objects: promotion of business interests, promotion of good fellowship and the advancement of the best interests of the community. By 1910 Rotary had five Objects as increased emphasis was given to expanding Rotary. By 1915 there were six Objects. In 1918 the Objects were rewritten again and reduced to four. Four years later they had again grown to six and were revised again in 1927.

Finally, at the 1935 Mexico City Convention the six Objects were restated and reduced to four. The last major change came in 1951 when the Objects were streamlined and changed to a single Object, which has four parts. The "ideal of service" is the key phrase in the Object of Rotary. This ideal is an attitude of being a thoughtful and helpful person in all of one's endeavors. That's what the Object truly means.

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