Rotary Terms

Rotary uses a number of terms and abbreviations which may be confusing to visitors and new members. This page has therefore been put together as a reference which we hope you will find useful in understanding more of what Rotary is about.

Ambassadorial Scholar
The idea of the Rotary Foundation sponsoring 'Ambassadors of Goodwill' began in 1947 and since then over 31,000 scholars have travelled and studied in over 100 countries. This is one of the largest international scholarship programmes in the world and is the flagship of the Foundation educational programmes. With Reading being a University town, overseas Ambassadorial Scholars arrive regularly and club Rotarians act as Counsellors to scholars for their post graduate year. In that time they become very close to the scholar, often resulting in lifetime friendships. Scholars have come from America, Japan, Germany and Brazil.

Annual General Meeting
The club's Annual General Meeting is usually the first meeting in May when the Club's officers and committee chairmen report on their year's activity and the Treasurer presents the audited accounts.

The Club Assembly is usually the first meeting in June. The incoming officers and committee present their respective programmes to the club and the Treasurer presents his budget for the coming year. The meeting is usually attended by one of the District Officers, who comments on the proposals and reports back to District.

Virtually all membership in Rotary is based upon a classification. Basically a classification describes the distinct and recognised business or professional service that the Rotarian renders to society. The classification principle is a necessary concept in assuring that each Rotary Club represents a cross section of the business and professional service of the community.

In 1995 the Council on Legislation permitted the admission of retired people who had never been in Rotary but would have been qualified. These individuals can be admitted as past service members and are the only Rotarians without a current or former classification.

Club Plan
The Club Plan sets out the broad aims and aspirations of the Club to provide clarity for members, particularly new ones. It is the responsibility of Council for each Rotary year to develop specific plans for that year. If this leads to a major diversion from the aims set out in the existing Club Plan then this should be identified and, if the variation is to be ongoing, the Club Plan updated accordingly.

This is the administrative team of the Rotary club. Council members are elected annually and the Club President chairs the council meetings which are held monthly.

Part of the Council consists of the Club officers who are the Secretary, Treasurer and Senior Vice President. The remainder of the Council is made up of Committee Chairmen comprising Social, Programme, Membership, Community Service, Fundraising, International, Vocation, Foundation and Youth Activities. Each Chairman has a committee of up to six members and reports to Council on plans and activities.

Additional members are selected to handle Press and Publicity, Personnel and Welfare, the club Newsletter and the Shop.

Council on Legislation
Representatives attend the Council from all the countries of Rotary, to consider proposals for changes to the rules of Rotary International. Such proposals are submitted by Rotary Clubs and Districts, and are communicated to the Rotary world so that members can have an opportunity to consider the legislation. This is usually done at special District Council meetings, so that the District representatives know and understand the views of the Rotarians in their District.

Rotary Clubs are grouped geographically into Districts. Each district is administered by a District Governor, District Officers and District Committee Chairmen. These District committees reflect the committees which each individual Rotary Club maintains; the Rotary Club of Reading Maiden Erlegh is in District 1090. District also holds an Assembly, and organises an annual Conference.

Duties Rota
Three Rotarians are listed each week on a rota basis to perform the duties described at the top of this web site's Diary page. To perform these duties properly, the duty Rotarians are expected to arrive at least half an hour before the start of the meeting.

Father Christmas
This is the Club's major fund raising activity of the year. With the co-operation of three local garden centres, parents and children can visit a decorated grotto where a Rotarian Father Christmas greets the children and hands them a wrapped present suitable for their age. This activity runs each weekend from mid November to Christmas and on the opening day Father Christmas has been known to arrive in a spectacular fashion either by horse drawn carriage or helicopter.

The Club also raises funds at a local supermarket where Rotarians shake collecting cans whilst elegantly dressed in animal costumes.

This is Rotary's own charity, and Club members support international projects through the programs of The Rotary Foundation. The Foundation was created in 1917 for the purpose of doing good in the world, and is supported almost entirely by member contributions.

Rotary Foundation grants also fund educational and humanitarian programmes which include the global project to free the world from polio, matching grants for club schemes, Group Study Exchanges, Rotary Peace Programmes and other Rotary programmes.

Rotary Foundation humanitarian grants support projects that provide health care and supplies, clean water, food, job training, and education - particularly in the devel-oping world. Large-scale Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Grants support sustainable projects that help others help themselves.

Four Avenues Of Service
Although the Avenues of Service described here are not found in any formal part of the constitutional documents of Rotary, the concept has been accepted as a means to describe the primary areas of Rotary activity.

Club Service
Involves all of the activities necessary for Rotarians to perform to make their Club function successfully.

Vocational Service
A description of the opportunity each Rotarian has to represent the dignity and utility of one's vocation to the other members of the Club.

Community Service
Pertains to those activities that Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community. It frequently involves assistance to youth, the aged, handicapped and others who look to Rotary as a source of hope for a better life.

International Service
Describes the many programs and activities that Rotarians undertake to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace. International Service projects are designed to meet humanitarian needs of people in many lands.

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 Four 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. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:

Of the things we think, say or do:

  • Is it the TRUTH?
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  • Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"


Group Study Exchange consists of a District team of young professional adults, usually four in number, selected from candidates recommended by individual Clubs. Accompanied by a senior Rotarian who also acts as team leader, the group travels to another country for approximately six weeks, exchanging with a group from that District who come to visit District 1090. The group are looked after by Rotarians in that District and they visit companies relevant to their professions to broaden their experience. They also visit Rotary clubs and talk about themselves and their jobs; on returning home, the group visit clubs in District 1090 by invitation to talk about their trip.

Handover is the last meeting in June and is a black tie event with spouses/partners present. The outgoing President gives a speech on his year and hands over his presidential jewel to the incoming President, who then introduces his new officers and committee chairmen.

The retiring President is presented with a Past President's jewel.

Kids Out (IN)
This is a national Rotary event held on a convenient Wednesday in mid June. The club takes physically and mentally disabled children from a local special school, by cars or coach to Thorpe Park, Chessington or Legoland. Lunches are provided for the children and costs are met by the Club's Community Service Funds. Due to changes in legislation this activity has been modified and Reading Maiden Erlegh now runs a 'Kids In' event whererby we entertain the children on the school premises with the help of volunteers and staff.

Leave Of Absence
A member who is going to be unable to attend Rotary meetings for a while, due to illness of self or family, pressure of business, or to working abroad in a country or area without Rotary, may apply to his Club Secretary for Leave of Absence. This can be granted by Club Council for an appropriate period. The member is excused attendance for that period but is still counted as absent in the Club attendance report to District.

Matching Grant
The Rotary Foundation can support projects of Clubs and Districts through the awarding of a grant of equal value to the money raised by the Clubs/Districts. The Clubs/Districts must apply for the required grant and are then responsible for the design, implementation and monitoring of their chosen projects. It is essential that Clubs/Districts establish a close working relationship with the project country Clubs/ Districts and build a spirit of trust and goodwill.

Object Of Rotary
While the original basis of Rotary was fellowship, service to others soon became its hallmark. Each Club determines its own service activities, which it channels through four Avenues of Service - Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, and International Service. These avenues are based on the four-part Object of Rotary:

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

  • FIRST. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
  • SECOND. High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
  • THIRD. The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business and community life;
  • FOURTH. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

Paul Harris Award
Paul Harris was one of the Founders of Rotary and was very involved in the development of Rotary which grew from a single club in Chicago in 1905 into the global organisation we know today. The Paul Harris Award was set up in memory of his work to recognise outstanding contributions to the ideals of Rotary. It can be awarded by a Rotary Club to any person, whether a Rotarian or not, who is deemed worthy of the honour. A Paul Harris Award costs $1000 which is paid to Rotary Foundation. The recipient is known as a Paul Harris Fellow, and receives a medallion on a blue and gold ribbon, a special lapel badge and a citation signed by the President of R.I. and the Chairman of Rotary Foundation Trustees.

President's Charity
When a Rotary Club President takes office he/she nominates one or more charities that he/she particularly wants to support during his/her term of office. The Club will then - in addition to its normal fund raising activities - raise the sum that the President has committed to donate to that charity or charities.

The President will always ensure that the committed sum is reasonable and does not detract from the demands normally placed upon the Club's charity funds by deserving causes during the year.

Presidents Night
This annual event is held on a Saturday evening, usually in mid June, it is a black tie affair with dinner, speeches and dancing; visitors and guests are welcome.

The President's speech welcomes the visitors and guests, and highlights some of the notable achievements of the year. A reply on behalf of the visitors and guests is usually given by an invited dignitary.

This stands for Rotary International, of which all Rotary Clubs throughout the world are members. R.I. Headquarters are in Evanston, Ilinois, USA and R.I. is an association of over 29,000 autonomous clubs in 162 countries.

Rotary is an international humanitarian service organization, the men and women of Rotary consisting of business and professional people who volunteer their time and resources to help others in their local communities and throughout the world.

Rotary members meet weekly to plan service activities. Rotary clubs determine their own service projects based on local needs and the interests and abilities of members.

Rotary clubs are non-religious, non-governmental and open to every race, culture and creed.

This stands for Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. The Headquarters of RIBI are in Alcester, Warwickshire, and provide an administrative organisation for all British and Irish Rotary Clubs.

Members of a Rotaract club consist of men and women between the ages of 18 and 30. They approach the world with the views and visions of Rotary together with the various skills they have developed in their own right as Rotaractors.

Rotaractors enjoy the fellowship of being Club members, they enjoy raising money for their chosen charities, they enjoy working hands-on for their local communities, and they are proud to be part of the world-wide fellowship of Rotary.

There are two categories in the Rotary Youth Leadership Award scheme, able-bodied and disabled. Students are chosen by interview and spend a week at a campsite in Wales where they are encouraged by specialist staff to engage in group problem solving and character building exercises such as rock climbing, abseilng and white water rafting. After returning from the course, the students are invited to a.Club meeting to talk about their experiences and receive their RYLA certificate. The costs of the RYLA course are met by the Club's Youth Activities fund.

Scatter Week
Fellowship is a very important aspect of Rotary, so Clubs will often allocate one week in the year during which they will forego their normal meeting venue and split up into small teams to visit neighbouring Clubs. Occasionally Clubs will make scatter visits well outside of their area, for example Reading Maiden Erlegh (RME) once enjoyed the company of a Club based in Essex! RME itself usually allocates one week in August and each scatter team reports back at the following business meeting.

These initials appear on a pot money pig which is circulated around the tables from time to time at Club meetings, and Rotarians take this opportunity to off load all their pocket tearing loose change. The initials are rumoured to stand for Small Change Used For Foundation.

Volunteers in Action
As the largest voluntary services organisation in Britain and Ireland, RIBI decided to form a meeting of like minded organisations including Inner Wheel, Lions, Round Table, Ladies Circle and Soroptimists. This group was launched at the House of Commons in February 2001 with Lord Ashley as the patron; the initiative has been a great success.

World Understanding Month
February is a special month in the Rotary calendar as it has not only been designated World Understanding Month but also includes the anniversary of the first meeting of Rotary held on 23rd February 1905, now designated World Understanding and Peace Day. In designating World Understanding Month, the Rotary International board asks all Rotary Clubs to plan programmes for their weekly meetings, and undertake special activities, to emphasise understanding and goodwill as essential for world peace.

Youth Speaks
This is a competition organised by the club's Youth Activities committee. Schools are invited to enter scholars into a speech making contest on a selected subject. The winner becomes the club's entrant into the District Youth Speaks competition.