The ABC's of Rotary - Part IX & X

by Cliff Dochterman, Rotary International President 1992-1993


* RI's General Secretary
* Selecting A President
* Annual Rotary Themes
* Campaigning Prohibited
* The Rotary Foundation's Beginning
* Ambassadorial Scholarships
* Group Study Exchange


The day-to-day operations of Rotary International's Secretariat are under the supervision of the general secretary, the top professional officer of Rotary. Although the general secretary is responsible to the RI Board of Directors and president, he provides the ongoing management for nearly 500 staff members who compose the Secretariat of Rotary International.

The general secretary serves as secretary to the RI board, and is also the chief executive and financial officer of The Rotary Foundation, under the supervision of the trustees of the Foundation. He is the secretary of all Rotary committees as well as the Council on Legislation, regional conferences and the annual Rotary convention.

The general secretary is appointed by the RI board for a term of not more than five years and is usually reelected. Since 1910, seven men have served in that position. Chesley Perry, the original general secretary, served from 1910 to 1942. Others who followed were Phil Lovejoy (1942-52), George Means (1953-72), Harry Stewart (1972-78), Herb Pigman (1979-86), Philip Lindsey (1986-90), and Spencer Robinson, Jr. (1990-93). The current general secretary, Herb Pigman, was reelected to the position in 1993.

Throughout the history of Rotary, the personal influence and administrative skills of our general secretaries have significantly shaped the course of Rotary programs and activities.

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Each year a distinguished Rotarian is selected as the worldwide president of Rotary International. The process begins two years in advance when a 15-man nominating committee is elected from separate regions of the world. To qualify for the nominating committee, a Rotarian must have served on the RI Board of Directors and have extensive Rotary experience and substantial acquaintanceship with the world leaders of Rotary.

The nominating committee may consider all former RI directors for the presidential candidate. Members of the nominating committee and current directors are not eligible. Any Rotary club may suggest the name of a former RI director to the committee for consideration.

The committee convenes in September to select the Rotarian to be the presidential nominee. His name is announced to all clubs. Any Rotary club may make an additional nomination before December 1, which must then be endorsed by one percent of all the Rotary clubs of the world (about 250). If such an event occurs, an election is held by mail ballot. If no additional nomination is presented by the clubs, the man selected by the nominating committee is declared to be the president- nominee. From that point on, that special Rotarian and his wife will spend more than a year in preparation and then a year serving the Rotarians of the world as the international president.

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In 1955, RI President A.Z. Baker announced a theme, "Develop Our Resources," to serve as Rotary's program of emphasis. Since that time, each president has issued a theme for his Rotary year. The shortest theme was in 1961-62 when Joseph Abey selected "Act." Other one-word themes were chosen in 1958-59 by Charles Tennent ("Serve") and 1968-69 by Kiyoshi Togasaki ("Participate").

Carl Miller, in 1963-64, had a theme for the times when he proposed "Guidelines for Rotary in the Space Age." Other "timely" themes were in 1980-81 when Rolf Klärich created "Take Time to Serve" and William Carter in 1973-74 used "Time for Action." Two themes have a similarity to commercial advertising: "A Better World Through Rotary" (Richard Evans, 1966-67) and "Reach Out" (Clem Renouf, 1978- 79). Bridges have been a striking metaphor. Harold Thomas, 1959-60, urged Rotarians to "Build Bridges of Friendship"; William Walk, 1970- 71, created "Bridge the Gap"; and Hiroji Mukasa, 1982-83, declared "Mankind is One-Build Bridges of Friendship Throughout the World."

A worldwide focus was given by Stan McCaffrey in 1981-82 with the message, "World Understanding and Peace Through Rotary," and again in 1984-85 by Carlos Canseco who urged Rotarians to "Discover a New World of Service." In other years, the individual was emphasized, as "You Are Rotary" (Edd McLaughlin, 1960-61), "Goodwill Begins With You" (Ernst Breitholtz, 1971-72) and "You Are the Key" (Ed Cadman, 1985- 86). Frequently the theme urges Rotarians to become more involved in their club, such as "Share Rotary-Serve People" (Bill Skelton, 1983- 84) or "Make Your Rotary Membership Effective" (Luther Hodges, 1967- 68). But whether you "Review and Renew," "Take a New Look," "Let Service Light the Way" or "Dignify the Human Being," it is clear that the RI president provides Rotarians with an important annual program of emphasis. In 1986-87, President M.A.T. Caparas selected the inspiring message that "Rotary Brings Hope."

Charles Keller in 1987-88 saw "Rotarians-United in Service, Dedicated to Peace," while Royce Abbey asked his fellow members in 1988-89 to "Put Life into Rotary-Your Life." Hugh Archer (1989-90) urged us to "Enjoy Rotary!" and Paulo Costa (1990-91) asked that we "Honor Rotary with Faith and Enthusiasm." My predecessor Raja Saboo (1991-92) exhorted every Rotarian to "Look Beyond Yourself." In 1992- 93, I reminded Rotarians, "Real Happiness Is Helping Others," and in 1993-94, Bob Barth counseled Rotarians, "Believe In What You Do and Do What You Believe In." In 1994-95, Bill Huntley encouraged Rotarians to "Be A Friend" to their communities.

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One of the interesting bylaws of Rotary International provides that "no Rotarian shall campaign, canvass or electioneer for elective position in Rotary International." This provision includes the office of district governor, Rotary International director, RI president and various elected committees. The Rotary policy prohibits the circulation of brochures, literature or letters by a candidate or by anyone on behalf of such a candidate.

After a Rotarian has indicated his intention to be a candidate for one of the elective Rotary offices, he must refrain from speaking engagements, appearances or publicity which could reasonably be construed as furthering his candidacy. The only information which may be sent to clubs relating to candidates for an elective position is that officially distributed by the general secretary of RI.

A Rotarian who becomes a candidate for an elective position, such as district governor or RI director, must avoid any action which would be interpreted as giving him an unfair advantage over other candidates. Failure to comply with these provisions prohibiting campaigning could result in the disqualification of the candidate.

In Rotary it is believed that a Rotarian's record of service and qualifications for office stand on their own and do not require publicity or special promotion.

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Some magnificent projects grow from very small seeds. The Rotary Foundation had that sort of modest beginning.

In 1917 RI President Arch Klumph told the delegates to the Atlanta Convention that "it seems eminently proper that we should accept endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world." The response was polite and favorable, but the fund was slow to materialize. A year later the "Rotary Endowment Fund," as it was first labeled, received its first contribution of $26.50 from the Rotary Club of Kansas City, which was the balance of the Kansas City Convention account following the 1918 annual meeting. Additional small amounts were annually contributed, but after six years it is reported that the endowment fund had only reached $700. A decade later, The Rotary Foundation was formally established at the 1928 Minneapolis Convention. In the next four years the Foundation fund grew to $50,000. In 1937 a $2 million goal was announced for The Rotary Foundation, but these plans were cut short and abandoned with the outbreak of World War II.

In 1947, upon the death of Paul Harris, a new era opened for The Rotary Foundation as memorial gifts poured in to honor the founder of Rotary. From that time, The Rotary Foundation has been achieving its noble objective of furthering "understanding and friendly relations between peoples of different nations." By 1954 the Foundation received for the first time a half million dollars in contributions in a single year, and in 1965 a million dollars was received.

It is staggering to imagine that from those humble beginnings, The Rotary Foundation is now receiving more than $45 million each year for educational and humanitarian work around the world.

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The Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarships Program is the world's largest privately funded international scholarships program. In 1947, 18 "Rotary Fellows" from 11 countries were selected to serve as ambassadors of goodwill while studying in another country for one academic year. Since that time, approximately $242 million has been expended on some 25,000 scholarships for people from more than 125 countries, studying in 105 countries around the world.

The purpose of the Scholarships Program is to further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries. Scholars are expected to be outstanding ambassadors of goodwill to the people of the host country through both informal and formal appearances before Rotary and non-Rotary groups.

Beginning with the 1994-95 program year, The Rotary Foundation offers two new types of scholarships in addition to the Academic-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship offered since 1947. The Multi-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship is awarded for two or three years of specific degree-oriented study abroad. The Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarship provides three or six months of funding for intensive language study and cultural immersion in a language other than their native language.

Rotarians know that Rotary Foundation scholarships are very worthwhile investments in the future and one important step in seeking greater understanding and goodwill in the world.

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One of the most popular and rewarding programs of The Rotary Foundation is the Group Study Exchange. Since the first exchange between districts in California and Japan in 1965, the program has provided educational experiences for about 25,000 business and professional men and women who have served on about 5,500 teams. The GSE program pairs Rotary districts to send and receive study teams. Since 1965, more than $42 million has been allocated by The Rotary Foundation for Group Study Exchange grants.

One of the attractive features of GSE is the opportunity for the visiting team members to meet, talk and live with Rotarians and their families in a warm spirit of friendship and hospitality. Although the original Group Study Exchanges were male only, in recent years teams include both men and women.

In addition to learning about another country as the team visits farms, schools, industrial plants, professional offices and governmental establishments, the GSE teams serve as ambassadors of goodwill. They interpret their home nation to host Rotarians and others in the communities in which they visit. Many of the personal contacts blossom into lasting friendships.

Truly, the Group Study Exchange program has provided Rotarians with one of its most enjoyable, practical and meaningful ways to promote world understanding.

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Please select topic below or select a new part in the right bar.

* Health, Hunger And Humanity Grants
* Matching Grants
* Polioplus
* Rotary Peace Programs
* Paul Harris Fellows
* "Citation For Meritorious Service" & "Distinguished Service Award"
* Public Relations Of Rotary
* Use Of The Rotary Emblem
* Special Rotary Observances
* Extending Rotary


In 1978, Rotary launched its most comprehensive humanitarian service activity with the Health, Hunger and Humanity Program. The 3-H Program is designed to undertake large-scale service projects beyond the capacity of individual Rotary clubs or groups of clubs.

By 1994, more than 135 different 3-H projects have been approved and undertaken in 49 different countries, with an appropriation at more than $37 million. The objective of these projects is to improve health, alleviate hunger and enhance human, cultural and social development among peoples of the world. The ultimate goal is to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace.

The first 3-H project was the immunization of 6 million children in the Philippines against polio. As 3-H progressed, new programs were added to help people in developing areas of the world. Now, in addition to the mass polio immunization of over 100 million children in various countries, 3-H has promoted nutrition programs, vocational education, improved irrigation to increase food production, polio victim rehabilitation and other activities which benefit large numbers of people in developing countries. All 3-H projects are supported by the voluntary contributions of Rotarians through The Rotary Foundation. In years to come the 3-H Program may well be considered Rotary's finest service activity, showing how Rotarians care and are concerned about people in need, wherever they may be.

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Among the programs of The Rotary Foundation are the Matching Grants that assist Rotary clubs and districts in conducting international service projects. Since 1965, more than 3,700 grants have been awarded for projects in about 135 countries with awards of more than $23 million.

A club or district must contribute an amount at least as large as that requested from The Rotary Foundation with at least half the funds that the Foundation will match coming from a country outside of the country where the project will take place. Grants have been made to improve hospitals, develop school programs, drill water wells, assist the handicapped or persons requiring special medical attention, provide resources for orphanages, create sanitation facilities, distribute food and medical supplies and many other forms of international community service in needy areas of the world. Some grants are for projects in the magnitude of from $15,000 to $50,000, but most are in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.

Matching Grants are not approved to purchase land or build buildings, and they may not be used for programs already underway or completed. Personal participation by Rotarians is required and the benefits should extend beyond the recipients.

The Matching Grants program is a very significant part of The Rotary Foundation and provides an important incentive for clubs to undertake worthwhile international service projects in another part of the world. They certainly foster goodwill and understanding, which is in keeping with the objectives of The Rotary Foundation.

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PolioPlus is Rotary's massive effort to eradicate poliomyelitis from the world by the year 2005. It is part of a global effort to protect the children from five other deadly diseases as well-the "plus" in PolioPlus. The program was launched in 1985 with fund- raising as a primary focus. The original goal was to raise $120 million. By 1988, Rotarians of the world had raised more than $219 million in cash and pledges. By 1994, the cash total exceeded $246 million! These gifts have enabled The Rotary Foundation to make grants to provide a five-year supply of vaccine for any developing country requesting it to protect its children. Grants have been made to nearly 100 countries-a commitment, thus far, of $181 million to buy vaccine and to improve vaccine quality.

In 1988, the World Health Organization adopted a goal of eradicating polio throughout the world by the year 2000, and Rotary has endorsed that goal, hoping to celebrate a polio-free world in its own 100th anniversary year, 2005. Achieving eradication will be difficult (only one other disease, smallpox, has ever been eradicated) and expensive (estimated cost to the international community is nearly $2 billion). It will require continuing immunization of children worldwide, and it also must include systematic reporting of all suspected cases, community-wide vaccination to contain outbreaks of the disease, and establishment of laboratory networks. Rotary will not be alone in all these efforts but in partnership with national governments, the World and Pan American Health Organizations, UNICEF and others. Rotary's "people power" gives us a special "hands on" role. Rotarians in developing countries have given thousands of hours and countless in-kind gifts to help eradication happen in their countries.

No other nongovernmental organization ever has made a commitment of the scale of PolioPlus. Truly it may be considered the greatest humanitarian service the world has ever seen. Every Rotarian can share the pride of that achievement!

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A special program of The Rotary Foundation was originally labeled the "Rotary Peace Forum." The concept of a center or educational program to promote greater understanding and peace in the world was originally discussed in 1982 by the New Horizons Committee and the World Understanding and Peace Committee. In 1984 it was further explored by a New Programs Committee of The Rotary Foundation.

The essence of the Rotary Peace Program is to utilize the non- governmental but worldwide resources of Rotary to develop educational programs around the issues that cause conflict among nations in the world as well as those influences and activities which promote peace, development and goodwill. The program includes seminars, publications or conferences as a means to initiate a global dialogue to find new approaches to peace and world understanding.

Specific Rotary Peace Programs are selected annually by the trustees of The Rotary Foundation. Many peace programs are held in conjunction with presidential conferences.

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Undoubtedly the most important step to promote voluntary giving to The Rotary Foundation occurred in 1957, when the idea of Paul Harris Fellow recognition was first proposed. Although the concept of making $1,000 gifts to the Foundation was slow in developing, by the early 1970s it began to gain popularity. The distinctive Paul Harris Fellow medallion, lapel pin and attractive certificate have become highly respected symbols of a substantial financial commitment to The Rotary Foundation by Rotarians and friends around the world.

The companion to the Paul Harris Fellow is the Paul Harris Sustaining Member, which is the recognition presented to an individual who has given, or in whose honor a gift is made, a contribution of $100, with the stated intention of making additional contributions until $1,000 is reached. At that time the Paul Harris Sustaining Member becomes a Paul Harris Fellow.

By 1994, more than 450,000 Paul Harris Fellows and 160,000 Sustaining Members have been added to the rolls of The Rotary Foundation.

A special recognition pin is given to Paul Harris Fellows who make additional gifts of $1,000 to the Foundation. The distinctive gold pin includes a blue stone to represent each $1,000 contribution up to a total of $5,000 in additional gifts.

Paul Harris recognition provides a very important incentive for the continuing support needed to underwrite the many programs of The Rotary Foundation which build goodwill and understanding in the world.

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Two very special awards of recognition occasionally are presented by the trustees of The Rotary Foundation to Rotarians who render outstanding service to The Rotary Foundation. The Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service recognizes significant and dedicated service by a Rotarian to promote the programs of The Rotary Foundation and thus advance the Foundation's goal of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world.

The second award, called the Distinguished Service Award, is presented to a Rotarian whose outstanding record of service to The Rotary Foundation is on a much broader basis and spreads beyond the district level and continues over an extended period of time. The Distinguished Service Award acknowledges the sustained efforts of a Rotarian who has already received the Citation of Meritorious Service, for continuing efforts to promote international understanding.

Both of these select awards are presented for exemplary personal service and devotion to the Foundation rather than for financial contributions. No more than 50 such awards are granted by the trustees in any one year and there is only one recipient of a Citation for Meritorious Service in any district each year. A recipient of the Citation for Meritorious Service is not eligible for nomination for a Distinguished Service Award until two or more years have elapsed.

It is a very proud distinction for any Rotarian to be selected for one of these high levels of recognition by The Rotary Foundation trustees.

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Historically Rotarians perpetuated a myth that Rotary should not seek publicity, but rather let our good works speak for themselves. A 1923 policy stating that "publicity should not be the primary goal of a Rotary club in selecting an activity" of community service, was frequently interpreted to mean that Rotary clubs should avoid publicity and public relations efforts. Actually, the 1923 statement further observed that "as a means of extending Rotary's influence, proper publicity should be given to a worthwhile project well carried out."

A more modern public relations philosophy was adopted in the mid- 1970s which affirms that "good publicity, favorable public relations and a positive image are desirable and essential goals for Rotary" if it is to foster understanding, appreciation and support for its Object and programs and to broaden Rotary's service to humanity. Active public relations is vital to the success of Rotary.

A service project well carried out is considered one of the finest public relations messages of Rotary. It is essential that Rotary clubs make every effort to inform the public about their service projects which have been well performed.

As Rotary clubs and districts consider effective public relations, it is important to remember that when Rotarians think of Rotary, we think of our noble goals and motives. But when the world thinks of Rotary, it can only think of our actions and the service we have performed.

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The Rotary International emblem is officially registered with the U.S. Patent Office as a trademark and "service mark," which prevents it being used in improper ways or by unauthorized individuals. The Rotary emblem should not be altered or modified in any way.

Rotarians are encouraged to wear the emblem as a lapel button. It is frequently used on jackets, pens, caps and other personal items manufactured by firms or individuals licensed by the RI Board of Directors. Rotary badges, banners, road signs and official Rotary club stationery naturally use the emblem as a mark of identification.

The Rotary emblem cannot be used for any commercial purpose. It is not permissible to use it in a political campaign or in connection with any other name or emblem not recognized by Rotary International. Individual Rotarians should not use the Rotary emblem on business cards or stationery or for any other use intended to promote business. Nor is it considered proper for Rotarians to use the emblem on doors or windows of their business premises.

It is the responsibility of all Rotarians to use the emblem with pride. The restrictions are provided to assure that the Rotary emblem will not be misused and that it will always bring distinction to the organization.

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In the annual Rotary calendar several months are designated to emphasize major programs of Rotary International.

January is Rotary Awareness Month. This is a time to expand knowledge of Rotary and its activities among our membership and throughout the community.
February is designated as World Understanding Month. This month was chosen because it includes the birthday of Rotary International, February 23. During the month, Rotary clubs are urged to present programs which promote international understanding and goodwill, as well as launch World Community Service projects in other parts of the world.
World Rotaract Week is the week in which March 13 falls. It's a time when Rotary clubs and districts highlight Rotaract by joining in projects with their Rotaract clubs.
April is set aside as Rotary's Magazine Month. Throughout the month, clubs arrange programs and activities which promote the reading and use of The Rotarian magazine and the official regional magazines of Rotary.
August is Membership and Extension Month, a time to focus on Rotary's continuing need for growth, to seek new members and form new clubs.
September is Youth Activities Month. Rotary clubs of the world give special emphasis to the many Rotary-sponsored programs which serve children and young people. During this month many clubs give increased attention to youth exchange activities.
October is Vocational Service Month. During this period, clubs highlight the importance of the business and professional life of each Rotarian. Special activities promote the vocational avenue of service.
November is selected to be Rotary Foundation Month. Clubs and districts call attention to the programs of The Rotary Foundation and frequently cultivate additional financial support for the Foundation by promoting contributions for Paul Harris Fellows and Sustaining Members.
Each of these special months serves to elevate the awareness among Rotarians of some of the excellent programs of service which occur within the world of Rotary.

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Every 14 hours of every day a new Rotary club is chartered in one of the more than 150 countries in which Rotary exists. This steady growth in new clubs is extremely important in extending the worldwide programs and influence of Rotary International. New Rotary clubs may be established anywhere in the world where the fundamental principles of Rotary may be freely observed and wherever it can reasonably be expected that a successful club can be maintained.

A club must be organized to serve a specific "locality," or clearly identified territory in which there are enough business or professional persons of good character engaged in proprietary or management positions. A minimum of 40 potential classifications is necessary for a proposed new club, and from that list a permanent membership of at least 25 members must be enrolled. Occasionally an existing club will cede a portion of its territory or will share the same territory with a new club.

In the process of organizing a new club the first step is to conduct a survey of the locality to determine the potential for new club extension. The district governor's special representative guides the organization of the new club. Among the requirements for a new club is the adoption of the Standard Rotary Club Constitution, a minimum of 25 charter members with clearly established classifications, payment of a charter fee, weekly meetings of the provisional club and the adoption of a club name which will distinctly identify it with its locality. A provisional club becomes a Rotary club when its charter is approved by the board of Rotary International.

It is a great opportunity and special duty of all Rotarians to assist and cooperate in organizing new clubs. Knowing that two new Rotary clubs will be chartered someplace in the world today, tomorrow and every day provides a strong endorsement of the vitality and extension of Rotary service throughout the world.

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