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Expanding Our Reach


During the next few decades, Rotary’s presence expands to new lands. The creation of The Rotary Foundation encourages members to think about Rotary’s role in serving the needs of communities in the present and in the future.

This comic in the August 1936 issue of The Rotarian recounts the organization's name changes.

1912: Rotary becomes International

Rotary becomes an international organization with the chartering of the Rotary Club of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in April 1912. To reflect this, the organization changes its name to the International Association of Rotary Clubs. The name Rotary International is adopted in 1922.

1912: Rotary expands to Europe

The chartering of a club in London, U.K. in August puts Rotary in Europe. Although the Rotary Club of Dublin, Ireland, had been organized earlier, it wasn't charted until May 1913. Rotary's presence spreads to continental Europe with the chartering of a club in Madrid, Spain, in January 1921.

Rotary International General Secretary Ches Perry (center) and members of the Rotary Club of London celebrate Rotary's anniversary in 1925.

Members, family, and friends of the Rotary Club of London celebrate just before traveling to the 1922 Rotary Convention in Los Angeles, California, USA.

1914: Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland

In May, Rotary clubs in Great Britain and Ireland form the British Association of Rotary Clubs to facilitate connections among the growing number of clubs there. In 1922, the name is changed to Rotary International – Association for Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) and the relationship with Rotary International further defined.

1917: The Rotary Foundation

Rotary president Arch Klumph proposes establishing an endowment “for the purpose of doing good in the world,” which becomes a precursor to The Rotary Foundation. The Rotary Club of Kansas City, Missouri, USA, makes the first donation of $26.50. In 1928, the Foundation is formally named and a Board of Trustees is created.

Silent video of Arch Klumph, 1916-17 Rotary president, at the 1917 Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

1919: Rotary extends to South America

Rotary expands to South America with the chartering of a club in Montevideo, Uruguay, in February 1919. In 1920, a club is chartered in Argentina. Brazil becomes the third country on the continent to have Rotary clubs in 1923.

Rotary Club of Montevideo, Uruguay, banner from between 1927 and 1949.

Attendees at the 1920 International Assembly in Chicago.

1919: First International Assembly

Rotary holds its first International Assembly in Chicago, an annual training event for incoming leaders. The practice would continue yearly, building connections between incoming leaders worldwide.

1919: Rotary arrives in Asia

A Rotary club is chartered in Manila, Philippines, in June 1919, and in Shanghai, China, four months later. ​The Rotary Club of Calcutta becomes the first club in India in January 1920.

Members of the Rotary Club of Manila, before 1942.

A stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of Rotary in Australia.

1921: Rotary reaches Oceania and Africa

The Rotary Club of Melbourne becomes the first club chartered in Australia in April. In May, Rotary chartered clubs in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand. Rotary reaches Africa in July with a club in Johannesburg, South Africa.

1921: Prioritizing peace

Rotarians meet in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the first convention held outside the U.S. They add the advancement of peace and international goodwill to the RI constitution. Prioritizing peace becomes part of the Object of Rotary when the Object is adopted at the 1922 Convention in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Rotarians parade through the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland, during the 1921 convention.

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