What is a Rotary Club and how come there one in almost every country on the globe? In this article, I hope I will shed some light on one of the most recognized international non-profit organization.
The Rotary Club was founded on the 23rd of February, 1905 in Chicago by attorney Paul P. Harris. Upon its creation, its mission statement was to draw together professionals from all sorts of backgrounds, in order to engage in meaningful exchange of ideas. Its name derives from the fact that in the beginning members were rotating the meetings held among the offices of each member.
What Is a Rotary Club and How Does It Function?
So how does a Rotary Club function? Well, first of all, it is divided into 3 segments. Everything starts with the Rotary clubs which bring together members from all over the world. Afterwards, Rotary International coordinates global programs and initiatives. And lastly, Rotary Foundation funds the projects with help from the donations collected. There are 34.282 clubs worldwide, with over 1.2 million members, making it one of the most well-known non-profit organization.
Who is Funding the Rotary Clubs?
The funding for the organization comes from three sources, its members, outside donors and market investments. From its funds, 92% are diverted into programs, while 6% are used for organizing fundraisers and nearly 2% used for administrative expenses.
As such, the funds raised by the Rotary Club are invested into long-term programs for fighting diseases, providing clean water supplies, promoting peace, supporting education and even helping to grow local economies.
Rotary Motto: “Service Above Self” – What do Rotary Clubs Do?
16 years after its foundation, the club was already present on six continents. The key aspects of the Rotary Club as made clear from the beginning were:
- To be truly an international organization, managing to become present on six continents in less than 2 decades. Nowadays, managing to work together around the globe both in a digital fashion as well as in-person meetings held to help promote problem-solving ideas.
- To persevere. This came especially true in the days of WW II. In countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Japan Rotary Clubs were forced to be closed, however underground meetings kept occurring, and the surviving members engaged in the reconstruction of the clubs and their respective countries.
- Commitment to human services. Rotary Club is a well known fighter against endemics such as polio. In 1979, when Rotary Club decided to engage in the fight against polio, there were 125 “polio endemic” countries around the world. In the mid-nineties alone, more than 165 million children were immunized with the help of the Rotary Club. Its ongoing fight against social matters attracting famous entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates. As such, in 2012 the number of countries suffering from this endemic reached its lowest number as of yet, with 3 countries out of 125 in 1988.
Rotary Club Projects
The Rotary Club’s achievement against the polio endemic is just one victory in a long series of battles fought in many social aspects.
In Jamaica, the Montego Bay Rotary club partnered with the Carrolton-Farmers Branch Rotary Club in their quest to supply medical equipment to the Cornwall Regional Hospital, Blessed Assurance and West Haven homes for disabled children. So far, medical equipment worth of 300.000 $ has been provided, and it would not have been possible either if not for the help of the Jamaican Ministry of Health, who worked closely with the Montego Bay club to provide duty-free and shipping arrangements which helped prevent the loss of the equipment on the black market.
In other areas such as the Vancouver branch, the group worked to increase literacy by providing books and even digital equipment in the fight against illiteracy. Linda Wong, a volunteer as the public relations director for the branch expressed the fact literacy is an important aspect in the development of children, helping them integrate within society.
The group also tackled literacy and health issues for the less fortunate in countries such as Ghana, Morocco, Philippines, Cambodia and India. Schools and neurological injury rehabilitation centers were opened, alongside purchasing second-hand medical equipment, including surgical supplies. As such, in India alone, more than 600 surgeries were performed as a result and in Morocco the neurological health center is the only one in the country.
In Haiti, a serious concern arose around the staggering health issues which became especially visible after destructive earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The Rotary Club provided pre and post-natal care to mothers, which became a great issue especially after many hospitals and clinics suffered greatly in the aftermath of the devastating events.
Other examples of projects initiated by the Rotary Club in communities worldwide are seen in Kenya and Honduras. In Kenya 98.500$ were spent in order to provide clean drinking water and help irrigate severe droughts affecting farmers as well as the economy. On the other side of the globe, in Honduras, massive social programs worth of 25.550 $ were made to help more than 600 young women with business training.
However, these are just a few of the many programs Rotary Clubs all over the world initiated. As an international organization, the Rotary works closely with national governments to promote literacy, health prevention and social programs to create long-term benefits for communities worldwide.
Other valuable Rotary partners are UNICEF, UN or the World Health Organization. Alongside international organizations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, proved to be valuable allies in programs combating illnesses such as polio.
In its 110 year existence, the Rotary club managed to initiate a vast array of programs with deep humanitarian implications. Working with worldwide partners to create a better tomorrow for the millions in need of human services, the organization truly reached an international status.
So there you have it, a short history of the Rotary Club and some of its achievements along the years. I hope my article managed to answer to ‘what is a rotary club’, how it is organized and in what fields Rotary Club members engage.