History of Rotary


The Rotary Foundation is over 100 years young and that is more than a century of Rotarians improving lives and communities all over the world. And that’s definitely something worth celebrating.

Today, our Foundation stands at the forefront of humanitarian service, having transformed millions of lives around the globe. It has supported thousands of projects to fight disease, provide clean water, save mothers and children, boost basic education, grow local economies, promote peace, and eradicate polio worldwide.

A  bold  vision

Over one hundred years ago, at the 1917 Rotary Convention in Atlanta, Rotary President Arch Klumph proposed creating an endowment “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” From the first contribution of $26.50, the Foundation has grown significantly and has spent more than $3 billion on programs and projects’ celebrate in the city where it all began. We’ll look back proudly over a century of “doing good in the world” — and look ahead to the challenges Rotary will tackle in the century to come.

Rotary International

Rotary International President 2015/16

Rotary International President 2015/16

K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran, a business leader from Colombo, Sri Lanka, took office on 1 July as the 105th president of Rotary International – a global network of 1.2 million volunteers dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges.

Ravindran urges Rotary’s 1.2 million members to give the gifts of time, talent, and knowledge to improve lives in communities across the globe

Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo, says a top priority will be to strengthen clubs by attracting men and women committed to improving communities worldwide through volunteer service.

Following the earthquake that hit Nepal, Rotary members were among the first to respond. “Medical teams arrived from Singapore and India. Solar lanterns, ShelterBoxes, tarpaulins and tents, water filters and medicines followed,” said Ravindran. “And hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised to help rebuild the lives of the millions who have lost their homes. When the camera crews leave, when the eye of the world looks elsewhere, Rotary will continue to remain.”

As president, Ravindran will oversee Rotary’s top humanitarian goal of eradicating the paralyzing infectious disease polio. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, formed in 1988, is a public-private partnership led by Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness-building. Rotary Club members worldwide have contributed more than US $1.4 billion and countless volunteer hours to the polio eradication effort.

Today, there are only three countries that have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Less than 370 polio cases were confirmed worldwide in 2014, which is a reduction of more than 99.9 percent since the 1980s, when the world saw about 1,000 cases per day.

As Sri Lanka’s chair of Rotary’s polio eradication efforts, Ravindran led efforts to eradicate polio from Sri Lanka. His country became one of the first to become polio-free in Asia.

A Rotarian since 1974, Ravindran has served Rotary as a director and treasurer of Rotary International, and as a trustee of The Rotary Foundation. He has been awarded The Rotary Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Award, and the Service Award for a Polio-Free World.

What is Rotary?

Rotary International is the world’s first service club organisation with more than 1.2 million members in more than 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary is a non-political, non-religious organisation open to every race, culture and creed. Members are ordinary people working together to make the world a better place.

Get Involved

We are 1.2 million neighbours, friends, and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world.

Our differing occupations, cultures, and countries give us a unique perspective. Our shared passion for service helps us accomplish the remarkable.

What makes us different?


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.

How do we work?

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.


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