About Rotary

What is Rotary?

How did Rotary get started?

What is the main objective of Rotary?

Who are members, and how often do they meet?

What are the benefits of membership in a Rotary club?

What are the requirements for membership in a Rotary club?

What is the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International?

What is Rotary International’s premier service program?

How is Rotary organized?

How are clubs grouped?

Does Rotary work with other organizations?

What is Rotary’s “Four-Way Test”?

What is Rotary’s classification system?

About the Rotary Club of Fairhope

What is the Rotary Club of Fairhope?

When and where does the Rotary Club of Fairhope meet?

What is a primary goal of our local Rotary club?

What service projects is Fairhope Rotary involved in?

What is the Fairhope Rotary Foundation?

What is an “active” member?

What are the financial requirements of membership?

What other requirements are there?

What is the membership process?

I’m interested in joining Rotary. What do I do now?

Questions about Rotary


What Is Rotary?

For over 100 years, Rotary has been an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 166 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 33,000 Rotary clubs.

How Did Rotary Get Started?

The world’s first service club, Rotary began with the formation of the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, on February 23, 1905. The club was started by a young lawyer, Paul P. Harris, and three of his friends. He wished to recapture the friendly spirit he had felt among business people in the small town where he had grown up. Their weekly meetings “rotated” among their offices, thereby providing the new service club with its name.

What Is the Main Objective of Rotary?

The main objective of Rotary is service—in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians develop community service projects that address many of today’s most critical issues, such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy, and violence. They also support programs for youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers, and other professionals, and vocational and career development. The Rotary motto is Service Above Self. The four Avenues of Service are Club Service, Community Service, Vocational Service, and International Service.

Who Are Members, and How Often Do They Meet?

Rotary club membership represents a cross-section of the community’s business and professional men and women. The world’s Rotary clubs meet weekly, and, although Rotary is nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds, each club develops distinctions that reflect its local community. Attendance is mandatory and missed meetings must be “made-up” to maintain membership.

What Are the Benefits of Membership in a Rotary Club?

Membership in a Rotary club is typified by the motto “Service Above Self” but offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Effecting positive change within the community.
  •  Developing community leadership skills.
  •  Gaining a deeper understanding of local community issues and projects through weekly program presenters.
  •  Gaining an understanding of—and having an impact on—community and international issues.
  •  Developing relationships between community and business leaders.


Through Rotary’s various service programs, a Rotary club can have a significant effect on the quality of life in its community. If you are looking to promote your business or yourself, there are a number of other clubs that would better serve that need. For more on the benefits of Rotary membership, see http://www.rotary.org/en/AboutUs/JoiningRotary/BenefitsOfRotary/Pages/ridefault.aspx.

What Are the Requirements for Membership in a Rotary Club?

An important distinction between Rotary and other organizations is that membership in Rotary is by invitation. Prospective members must:


Hold—or be retired from—a professional, proprietary, executive, or managerial position.


Meet the dues and fundraising goals and obligations of the club.


Have the capacity to meet the club’s weekly attendance or community project participation requirements.


Have the desire and willingness to commit to represent Rotary in the standards identified in “Four-Way test” of Rotary.


Live or work within the locality of the club or the surrounding area and commit to fully participate in bettering the community through Rotary.

What Is The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International?

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is a not-for-profit corporation that promotes world under­standing through international humanitarian service programs and educational and cultural exchanges. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and others who share its vision of a better world. Since 1947, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.1 billion in humanitarian and educational grants, which are initiated and administered by local Rotary clubs and districts.

What Is Rotary International’s Premier Service Program?

Although Rotary clubs as well as districts develop autonomous service programs, all Rotarians worldwide are united in a campaign for the global eradication of polio, PolioPlus. Since its inception in 1985, Rotarians have raised nearly $800 million to immunize the children of the world, and more than two billion children have received the oral polio vaccine. In addition, Rotary has provided an army of volunteers to promote and assist at national immunization days in polio-endemic countries around the world.

Although the original goal was to have the world polio-free by 2005, it has not been possible to meet this goal. However, Rotary was so respected in their efforts that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided a matching grant totaling $335 million to help reach the goal of a polio-free world in our lifetime. Rotary’s current PolioPlus Challenge is to raise $200 million to meet the Gates Foundation match.

How Is Rotary Organized?

Rotary is organized at club, district, and international levels to carry out its program of service. Rotarians are members of their clubs, and the clubs are members of the global association known as Rotary International. Each club elects its own officers and enjoys considerable autonomy within the framework of the standard constitution and the constitution and bylaws of Rotary International. Once accepted, you are therefore a member of your local Rotary club, not of Rotary International.

How Are Clubs Grouped?

Clubs are grouped into 531 Rotary districts, each led by a district governor who is an officer of Rotary International and represents the RI Board of Directors in the field. Though selected by the clubs of the district, a governor is elected by all of the clubs worldwide meeting in the RI Convention. The 50 clubs in south Alabama are part of District 6880.

Does Rotary Work with Other Organizations?

Throughout its history, Rotary International has collaborated with many civic and humanitarian organizations as well as government agencies in its efforts to improve the human condition. Just one excellent example of what these partnerships can accomplish can be found in Rotary’s ambitious PolioPlus program, launched in 1985 in concert with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and UNICEF, whose goal is to immunize every child in the world against polio. Rotary brought to the effort millions of volunteers to assist in vaccine delivery, social mobilization, and logistical help at the local, national, regional, and international levels.

What Is Rotary’s “Four-Way Test”?

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is the 4-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy. This 24-word code of ethics for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy. The test asks simply:


Is it the truth?


Is it fair to all concerned?


Will it build goodwill and better friendships?


Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

What Is Rotary’s Classification System?

Rotary uses a classification system to establish and maintain a vibrant cross-section or representation of the community’s business, vocational, and professional interests among members and to develop a pool of resources and expertise to successfully implement service projects. This system is based on the founders’ paradigm of choosing cross-representation of each business, profession, and institution within a community.

A classification describes either the principal business or the professional service of the organization that the Rotarian works for or the Rotarian’s own activity within the organization. Some examples of classifications include: health care management, banking, pharmaceutical-retailing, petroleum distribution, and insurance agency.

Questions about the Rotary Club of Fairhope


What Is the Rotary Club of Fairhope?

The Rotary Club of Fairhope, with roughly 100 members, is the oldest and largest Rotary club on the Eastern Shore, having been chartered on January 27, 1938. In the traditions of Rotary, its members represent business professionals and leaders from most every vocation. As the Eastern Shore has grown, the Fairhope club has been influential in helping “birth” additional clubs in our surrounding area. (For information on the meeting times and places of these nearby clubs, see our Makeups page.)

When And Where Does the Rotary Club of Fairhope Meet?

The Rotary Club of Fairhope meets weekly on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Homestead Village complex off Greeno Road in Fairhope, Alabama. Meetings include lunch, a program, and fraternal fellowship among club members. For more information on our meeting and directions to Homestead Village see our club home page.

What Is a Primary Goal of Our Local Rotary Club?

A primary goal of any Rotary club is to continually expand the club with committed members who have the capacity, the interest, and the ability to get involved in service to community and humanitarian projects.

What Service Projects Is Fairhope Rotary Involved In?

Each year the Rotary Club of Fairhope participates, along with other clubs in District 6880, in a project to provide a dictionary to every third-grader in our local schools. Internationally, the club recently initiated an ongoing mission in Honduras and now partners with other local clubs and the Rotary Club of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on medical/dental mission trips and installation of water purification filters in several communities. The club has participated in numerous other local and international service projects over the years.

What Is the Fairhope Rotary Foundation?

The Fairhope Rotary Foundation is a not-for-profit IRS 401(c)(3) corporation that promotes the concept of world under­standing through international charitable giving, humanitarian service projects, and scholarships specifically on the local level for our community. Formed on October 21, 1997, the local foundation, like the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, is also supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and others who share its vision of a better community.

The Fairhope Rotary Foundation was formed in part to award scholarships and educational grants to local students who exemplify the principles of Rotary. Since its inception the Foundation has awarded at least one per year with a goal to build an endowment that would guarantee even more such projects in the future. Currently the Foundation funds the Thomas S. Scoggins Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually to a graduating senior at Fairhope High School who is a member of the Interact Club. The scholarship provides $2,500 per year, renewable for four years, for college tuition.

Individuals and corporations wanting to help build the foundation or wanting more information may contact Fairhope Rotary. Students interested in the Scoggins Scholarship should contact the Interact Club advisor at Fairhope High School.

What Is an “Active” Member?

The Rotary Club of Fairhope defines an active member as a Rotarian who:


Attends, or makes up, at least 50% of all meetings each quarter, and


Is in good financial standing with the club. This means having paid when due and payable:


All meeting fees and membership dues including those assessed by RI as well as the club.


All club commitments to fundraising projects such as reselling or gifting the member’s annual fundraiser tickets.


All other assessed fees and obligations including PolioPlus, EREY, etc.
Supports the club through the giving of time to club-sponsored community service projects and fundraisers.


Supports the local Rotary Foundation whenever possible through work or individual donations.


For more on the responsibilities of Rotary membership, see http://www.rotary.org/en/AboutUs/JoiningRotary/Responsibilities/Pages/ridefault.aspx

What Are the Financial Requirements of Membership?

Currently, quarterly membership dues are approximately $250. This includes RI, district, and club dues, meal charges, a $25 contribution to the Rotary Foundation of R.I., and $50 toward the $200 annual cost of tickets to the May steak cookoff, the club’s annual fundraiser. This results in a total annual cost of around $1,000, but if cookoff tickets are sold (rather than used or given away), the member can recover their $200 cost, reducing the financial commitment to $800. In addition, there is a weekly fundraising raffle to which most members “donate” at least $1 a week, and there are occasional voluntary collections for other causes.

What Other Requirements Are There?

As noted above, each member is required to sell or buy five tickets to the club’s primary fundraiser, the Rotary Club of Fairhope International Steak Competition (“steak cookoff”), which is held annually on the second Friday in May. In addition, each member is expected to contribute to the fundraiser by helping to set up or break down for the event, serving food, taking tickets, or in some other capacity. Additional requirements of membership include the following:


Attendance: One of the few requirements imposed by Rotary International (not just the club) is 50% attendance. A member is required to attend or “make up” at least 50% of the regular weekly meetings in each six-month period. A missed meeting may be “made up” by attending a meeting of any other Rotary club anywhere in the world, by attending board or committee meetings or meetings of our Interact Club at Fairhope High School, or by participating in club-sponsored events. Makeups must be made within two weeks before or after the missed club meeting. For information on nearby makeup opportunities, see our Makeups page.


New Member Orientation: The club has a unique and well-regarded orientation program for new members, commonly called the “College of Rotary Knowledge.” The “New Member Committee” meets five times, usually at two-week intervals over the course of nine weeks. Meetings are typically held at 7 a.m. and last about an hour and a half. The class introduces new members to the history, principles, and activities of Rotary, including the special features of our club. All new members (even those who have previously belonged to other Rotary clubs) are required to attend.


Club Service: Each member is expected to serve periodically as Greeter, Fund Raiser, or Speaker Host at a weekly meeting. Club Service assignments are rotated alphabetically, and each member will usually serve at least twice a year, and members of the New Member Committee fill all the positions in turn during their orientation period.


Other: Throughout the year there are numerous other opportunities for members to be involved in club projects, from traveling to Honduras on a mission trip to visiting Fairhope Elementary School to distribute dictionaries to third-graders. Participation is voluntary but can be very rewarding (and serves as a makeup).

What Is the Membership Process?

As stated earlier, membership is by invitation only, so prospective members do not “apply” for membership but must be proposed by a current member. To be considered for membership, an individual must be invited by a member to attend several meetings. That member can then submit a membership proposal to the club board. Although the classification principle is not as strictly applied as it once was, clubs are limited in the number of members from any single career field, with the goal of having a broad representation of all vocations represented within the club. For this reason, clubs are sometimes very selective in approving new members. Once a proposal is approved, the prospect is advertised to the club, and if no objection is made, the prospect will be invited to join.

I’m Interested in Joining Rotary. What Do I Do Now?

You may wish to visit http://www.rotary.org/en/AboutUs/JoiningRotary/Pages/ridefault.aspx for more information. If you’re interested in joining the Rotary Club of Fairhope, tell us a little about yourself and one of our members will contact you. You may email the club at fairhoperotary@gmail.com or drop us a line at P.O. Box 741, Fairhope, AL 36533-0741