Rotary International is an organization of service clubs known as Rotary Clubs located all over the world. It is a secular organization open to all persons regardless of race, color, creed or political preference. There are more than 32,000 clubs and over 1.2 million members world-wide. The members of Rotary Clubs are known as Rotarians. The stated purpose of the organization is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. Members usually meet weekly for breakfast, lunch or dinner, which is a social event as well as an opportunity to organize work on their service goals.
The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying by each Rotarian of his occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
The application of the ideal of service by every Rotarian to his personal, business, and community life;
The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
The Fourth Object of Rotary has a connection to Prince Edward Island. It was Denned by Donald MacRae. He was born in 1872 in Canoe Cove right here on Prince Edward Island. He went to Dalhousie University on a scholarship, graduating with high honours in classics and the University Medal. He then spent six years at Cornell University, teaching Greek and earning his PhD. After a position at Princeton, he returned to Canada to study law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto and was called to the bar in 1913. Just one year later he accepted an appointment as Dean of the Law School at Dalhousie University, a position he held until 1924, when he returned to Osgoode Hall as a full-ume lecturer. He retired in 1944 and died in 1957.
As an active Rotarian, in June 1918, he proposed that Rotary become an agent for the promotion of goodwill and peace among nations – the first time that this vision of Rotary was expressed publicly. In 1921, as chair of Rotary’s Constitution and By-laws Committee, MacRae had an opportunity to incorporate this vision into the constitution of Rotary. He presented a resolution to the International Convention in Edinburgh, Scotland, that amended the constitution by adding the Fourth Object of Rotary. The Fourth Object became the engine that drives Rotary’s international service; indeed, it has become the watchword of the Rotary Foundation.
- Fostering unity among member clubs;
- Strengthening and expanding Rotary around the world;
- Communicating worldwide the work of Rotary;
- Providing a system of international administration.
The Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions was adopted by the Rotary International Council on Legislation in 1989 to provide more specific guidelines for the high ethical standards called for in the Object of Rotary: Every Rotarian engaged in a business or profession is expected to:
- Consider my vocation to be another opportunity to serve;
- Be faithful to the letter and to the spirit of the ethical codes of my vocation, to the laws of my country, and to the moral standards of my community;
- Do all in my power to dignify my vocation and to promote the highest ethical standards in my chosen vocation;
- Be fair to my employer, employees, associates, competitors, customers, the public, and all those with whom I have a business or professional relationship;
- Recognize the honor and respect due to all occupations that are useful to society;
- Offer my vocational talents: to provide opportunities for young people, to work for the relief of the special needs of others, and to improve the quality of life in my community;
- Adhere to honesty in my advertising and in all representations to the public concerning my business or profession;
- Neither seek from nor grant to a fellow Rotarian a privilege or advantage not normally accorded others in a business or professional relationship.