How is Rotary organized?

 

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Rotary began on February 23, 1905 when founder, Paul Harris, invited three Chicago businessmen to a meeting to share fellowship and networking to try and recreate a small town business environment in the big city.

The concept began to spread quickly with a second club forming in San Francisco and others following in quick succession.

Rotary became "International" on May 15, 1910 with the Rotary Club of Winnipeg, Manitoba, followed by clubs in London, Dublin and other countries.

Today, Rotary has around 1.2 million members in over 400 countries and geographical areas. 

Rotary grew to become much more than just a business organization, developing humanitarian goals with our motto of "Service Above Self" and our ethical guideline, the "Four Way Test".   Rotarians serve others both at home and internationally, and was also one of the founding partners of the United Nations. 

Our greatest project has been working towards the global eradication of polio, which was paralyzing over 350,000 children each year when we began in 1985 to numbers only in the hundreds today.  Polio will be the second disease to be completely eradicated, with smallpox being the first.



Given the size of Rotary, it is organized in various levels. 

At the core of Rotary is the club, which can have anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of Rotary members.

Each club belongs to a District.  Rotary District 5050 currently has 58 clubs and a geographical area that extends from Everett, Washington, USA to Hope, British Columbia, Canada.  Other Districts come in a variety of sizes (both clubs and members) and geographical areas. 

There are roughly 535 Districts in the Rotary world, which are then organized into Zones.  The Zones usually have around 18 Districts and there are 34 Zones.     Since that's still a large number, the Zones are paired in two's.

Rotary District 5050 formerly belonged to a Zone that extended north and south, from Alaska to California.  Several years ago, the Zones were redistributed to balance numbers of clubs and members.

We are currently a member of Zone 24 which extends east to west, from coast to coast.  The majority of Districts in Zone 24 have both Canadian and American clubs.

We are partnered with Zone 32, which covers the eastern seaboard and includes Boston and New York.

The paired Zones elect Directors who serve 2 year terms, with the selection alternating between the two Zones.

The 17 Directors worldwide sit on the Board of Rotary International, along with the RI President.

In addition to Rotary International, we have our charitable arm, called the Rotary Foundation, which is run by the Trustees, who are all Rotary members.

Click the links to read the biographies of the Rotary International President and the Zones 24/32 Director.