A look at the wider world of Rotary

Explore this page to find interesting facts about Rotary in the UK and worldwide in 2024. If you like what you see and would like information about membership please use the Join Us button at the top of the page. We'd love to hear from you.

The first Rotary club was formed in Chicago in 1905 and Rotary has grown to be one of the world’s leading membership and humanitarian service organisations. It is now active in more than 200 countires with 1.2 million members in over 35,000 Rotary clubs. 

Members of Rotary volunteer their time to make a difference in their local communities and around the world through projects which support education, fight disease, promote peace, provide clean water and much more. 

Health, Education/Youth and Water Projects

Providing Clean Water

One in ten people worldwide do not have access to clean water. One in three do not have access to sanitary toilet facilites. These are prerequisites for successful disease prevention. Rotarians are committed to providing these basic needs. Read How.

Fighting Disease

Rotary is involved in disease prevention at home and abroad. Go to Fighting Disease for details of our programmes.


Polio is a paralyzing and potentially deadly infectious disease that most commonly affects children under the age of 5.

Nothing better illustrates Rotarys commitment to ridding the world of such devastating scourges than Rotary's Polio Eradication programme.

In 1985, Rotary pledged to rid the world of the disease, at a time when there were 1,000 cases per day in 125 countries.

Over three decades later, with the tireless volunteering and fundraising efforts from Rotary members, and in collaboration with international partners, the number of cases worldwide has reduced by 99.9%, with over 2.5 billion children receiving a potentially life-saving vaccination.

Today, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it's crucial to continue working to keep other countries polio-free. If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year. A country is only declared as Polio-Free by the World Health Organisation when there have been no new cases for 2 years.

Read the full story Here.

Rotary owes a special thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For every dollar that Rotary donates to the Polio programme, their foundation donates two dollars. Read what Bill had to say.   For more information here is a video with Bill Gates.

Alongside Polio eradication we also have the The Polio Plus Campaign to help Polio survivors.


Rotary believes that education is a right, regardless of where children and people live. Rotary's goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy.

      • Worldwide, 250 million children don't have basic reading or maths skills.

        • Rotary projects and activities help to give children access to an education for the very first time.

        • We build schools, we supply books and computers for classrooms and we train teachers.

          Our work is not just about children. Major problems exist in all age groups, with 17% of the world's adult population being illiterate. That is 775 million people.

          For details of Rotary's education work around the world please click/tap Here.

          Inspiring the next generation

          As well as our impact overseas, Rotary leaves a lasting legacy on the lives of young people in Great Britain and Ireland. A leading Rotary commitment is to offer young people the platforms and opportunities for them to unlock their potential, develop their skills and broaden their horizons.

          Through RotaKids, Interact and Rotaract, the junior branches of Rotary for young people aged 8 - 30, enthusiastic young people have the chance to engage in social action and volunteering in safe and supportive environments.

          Thousands of young people also take part each year in Rotary's Youth Competitions. Hosted in a range of creative and academic subjects, the competitions provide young people with an opportunity to develop their skills and showcase their talents.

          As well as academic skills, programmes such as the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards help participants develop in areas like leadership, teamwork and problem solving.

          Being Inspired by the next generation: Rotary Young Citizen Awards

          Many Rotary clubs know of young people who deserve recognition for being positive young role models in their communities. Each year Rotary clubs throughout the UK and Ireland can nominate people under the age of 25 for Rotary Young Citizen Awards.

          The awards ceremony took place at St Benedict’s School in Alcester, Stratford-Upon Avon on Saturday 29th April and was hosted by previous winners Grace O’Malley and Theodor Sergiou.

          Within the Young Citizen Awards there are also awards for Young Peacemaker, Young Environmentalist, Young Sporting Hero and three Children of Courage – young people who have made great accomplishments in the face of personal adversity.

          See videos of this year's winners of Rotary Young Citizens Awards Here.

          You will be truly inspired by what these young people have achieved.

          Search our YouTube channel (see at foot of page) for more.

          Disaster Relief

          Natural disasters can occur anywhere at any time. Following a disaster, many vulnerable people are without access to some of the most basic human rights: food, shelter, sanitation facilities, education and healthcare.

          Rotary is always ready to help in practical and meaningful ways. Here's how.

          As well as providing support in the immediate aftermath, Rotary is able to use its network of clubs across the globe to introduce sustainable, community development projects in the longer term. Read more.

          Promoting Peace and World Understanding

          Rotary's Four Roles in Promoting Peace

          Rotary and its members are:

          • Practitioners: Our work fighting disease, providing clean water and sanitation, improving the health of mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies directly builds the optimal conditions for peaceful societies.
          • Educators: Our Rotary Peace Centers have trained over 1,300 peace fellows to become effective catalysts for peace through careers in government, education, and international organizations. 
          • Mediators: Our members have negotiated humanitarian ceasefires in areas of conflict to allow polio vaccinators to reach children who are at risk.
          • Advocates: Our members have an integral role as respected, impartial participants during peace processes and in post-conflict reconstruction. We focus on creating communities and convening groups that are connected, inclusive, and resilient.

          Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status offered to a nongovernmental organization by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which oversees many specialized UN agencies. History and video.

          Opportunities for Study Abroad

          Rotary Youth Exchange

          Delve deep into another culture by taking part in a Rotary Youth Exchange.

          New Generations Service Exchange

          New Generations Service Exchange (NGSE) is a Rotary exchange programme for young adults combining the opportunity to live abroad with giving hands-on vocational or humanitarian service.

          Peace Fellowships

          Each year, Rotary supports up to 100 professionals to undertake study at one of five Rotary Peace Centres around the world.

          Famous Rotarians

          From Popes to Presidents. You may be surprised!   Click/Tap Explore for a list with biographical links. Here's another page to  Explore.

          Did you know that Cpt. Sir Thomas Moore Was a Rotarian? He embodied the ideals of Rotary and kept us all smiling in difficult times. An interview as a tribute to him can be found Here.

          You may notice that there are not many women in the lists. That is because Rotary used to be a men-only organisation. All that changed in 1987 and today Rotary has many women members and actively encourages women to join. In fact Rotary's membership includes people of all genders, sexual orientation, colour, ethnicity and physical ability.

          Want to see more of what we do?

          Try Rotary's YouTube channel.  Use the Search facility to find the topic you want.

          A look at the wider world of Rotary sub-pages:

          The War In Ukraine

          more How Rotary is helping to relieve the terrible suffering of the peoples of Ukraine.