What is Rotary?

What is Rotary

In 1905 four men in the US started a group which used to meet in each others houses or businesses. Because they provided locations in turn it led to the name ROTARY.  The idea spread rapidly with new local groups being formed and crossed the Atlantic in1911 to Ireland. Growth continued and today there are over1.2 million members of Rotary International (RI) in over 32,000 individual clubs around the world. The clubs are grouped into districts. In Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) which has special status as an administrative unit there are 29 districts with nearly 2,000 clubs and more than 57,000 members. All clubs have to affiliate to RIBI & RI and abide by the Constitutions in order to call themselves a Rotary Club.

Each club has a Council which recommends actions to the full membership. The Dorchester club has some 30 members which are divided among  Committees who make recommendations on such things as projects, community actions and issues affecting the members. Membership of the Council and Committees is fixed annually. The Rotary year is from 1 July to 30 June. This structure is traditional in clubs but it is now common for clubs to use an internationally promoted Club Leadership Plan.

The Rotary club of Dorchester has some 30 members from a wide range of business backgrounds. The club meets on Mondays at the Kings Arms Hotel at 1.00pm for a one hour lunch meeting. The cost, borne by each member, is £12 for main course, sweet and coffee . There is an annual subscription of £138 plus an additional voluntary donation of £35 which, where possible, is gift aided under UK Tax law to The Rotary Foundation (see below).

The club executes charitable projects both locally and internationally. The international projects are often in partnership with the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and/or other Rotary clubs. But Rotary is more than a fundraising organisation; members provide help, particularly locally, with their time. Fostering fellowship is also an important aspect of Rotary. The Dorchester club frequently involes partners in it's meetings and events.However, fundraising is a significant activitiy. In 2008/9 the club raised a total of £16,800. This included £3,600 from South Street Christmas Collections which was split between three local named charities and £9,500 on the Christmas Draw.

On the international level we have an obligation to provide contributions to support the Polio Eradication Project as part of an international drive by all Rotary clubs worldwide to eradicate the disese. Rotary  Foundation has been supported in it's efforts by a generous donation of US $355m donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This has helped fund the final push to eradicate polio. Rotary has been involved in this for many years and only 3 parts of the world remain indemic  (Parts of Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan).

The Districts have a similar structure to the clubs but rather than a President, have a District Governor. Parallel structures are found at the national level (RIBI -Rotary in Britain & Ireland) and the International level (Rotary International). In addition there is a charitable status organisation (Charity) The Rotary Foundation, which handles such things as the monies for the elimination of polio and makes many grants to assist in Educational schemes and Humanitarian Projects.

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