Meeting Two—Rotary Beginnings and Club Service

The topic of this meeting is how Rotary got its start and how members serve Rotary in their clubs. It will consider how a club is organized, how things work, and what to expect. Veteran members can help answer any questions you have.

Assignment for this meeting:

  • Read pages 11–20 of The ABCs of Rotary.
  • Be prepared to report on your experience in meeting other members through “sitting around.”
  • Be prepared to give a report on the Club Service topic you selected.

Report topics and resources for Rotary Beginnings and Club Service

Attendance and Making Up: What is the attendance requirement for Rotary members? What are some ways to “make up” a missed meeting? Attendance is discussed on page 4 of The ABCs of Rotary, but this page from the website of another Rotary club gives further information, some of which is specific to that club, but most of it is generally applicable. You can find a list of local makeup opportunities, as well as a variety of eclubs, here at our website. For makeup opportunities elsewhere, use Rotary’s Club Finder (also available as a smartphone app).

Classifications: What is the classification principle of Rotary? How many members in the same classification are allowed to be in a club? This article is an update of what is on page 13 of The ABCs of Rotary.

Club Bulletin: Does your club have a printed bulletin? An electronic bulletin? What are some helpful features of your club bulletin? Where can a non-Rotarian access your club bulletin? (Ours is posted here weekly.)

Club Fund Raising: What activities does your club use to raise funds for club activities and outside service? Consider both weekly and annual fundraisers. What are some fundraisers of other Rotary clubs in your area?

Fellowship: What are the fellowship activities of your club? How do they serve the first part of the Object of Rotary? What part of fellowship do you enjoy most?

Five Avenues of Service: What are the five Avenues of Service in Rotary? What Rotary activities do they cover? The concept of “Avenues of Service” originated in 1926, as described in A Century of Service: The Story of Rotary International:

One Sunday morning in 1926, Sydney Pascall and Vivian Carter went for a walk in the woods not far from London. Pascall was then president of Rotary International in Britain & Ireland (RIBI), and Carter was RIBI secretary. The woods were so dense that the two had to walk in single file, so conversation was difficult. Pascall told Carter that he felt few Rotarians really understood what the organization’s objects were. “We should be able to consolidate all Rotary activities onto a half-sheet of paper,” he reasoned.

The two arrived at the conclusion that Rotary was like a three-lane highway: one lane where a Rotarian could serve his club, one to serve his vocation, and one to serve his community. They named it the Aims and Objects Plan, and clubs in Britain and Ireland adopted it and found it very helpful. A year later, Rotary International invited Vivian Carter to explain the A & O Plan to the Board of Directors, and that body was impressed at how he could explain the entire Rotary philosophy on a blackboard. When the plan was proposed to the 1927 Ostend convention in Belgium, the delegates overwhelmingly approved its worldwide usage.

Yet while these three lanes were adopted, others within the movement were urging Rotary to embrace international peace and goodwill as an added emphasis. In 1924, Rotarians in Kansas City, Missouri—about as far from an international border as any city in America—petitioned Rotary International to devote a year’s program to emphasize international service. Although their suggestion was not accepted, over time Rotarians became imbued with the idea of committing themselves to improving international relations. The 1928 Minneapolis convention unanimously adopted International Service as the final track of what has forever since been known as Rotary’s four Avenues of Service.

Membership Development: Membership development includes both recruitment and training of new members, as well as continuing education for all members. How does your club recruit and train new members?

Public Relations: What does your club do to make non-Rotarians aware of its activities? Have you seen newspaper articles or social media posts about Rotary projects and accomplishments? Does your club’s website promote these? What has Rotary done in recent years to improve its public image? What resources are available to promote Rotary?

Rotary Abbreviations: What are some abbreviations that Rotarians should know?

Rotary Beginnings: How much do you know about Rotary’s history? When was Rotary founded? Who was its founder? Who were the first members? For a timeline of Rotary’s early years, see here.

Rotary Logo: What is the origin of the Rotary wheel logo? How has it changed over the years? How was this incorporated into the Rotary pin?

Rotary Mottoes: Give some background on the Rotary mottoes, “He profits most who serves best” and “Service Above Self.”

Singing at Rotary Meetings: What is the history of music (singing) in Rotary clubs? See here for an amusing story about the origin of the practice of singing in Rotary club meetings. A somewhat different story is told here and yet another here, but everyone agrees that it started with Harry Ruggles, who is sometimes called “the fifth Rotarian.” Is music a feature of your club meetings? Would you like to see more (or less) singing in your club meetings?

Weekly Programs: How are your club’s weekly programs arranged? Do you have a Program Committee, or are individual members responsible for getting programs? How can you find out about upcoming programs?

Women in Rotary: Did Rotary always include women? When were they first admitted? For a history of women in Rotary, see here.