Rotary was founded on fellowship, a concept that has been expanded internationally through the Rotary Fellowships, groups that bring together members from different countries and cultures to enjoy a shared interest. In addition to fostering lifelong friendships, Rotary Fellowships keep members active in Rotary, sustaining their interest and further inspiring commitment. The nearly one hundred Rotary Fellowships encompass a variety of vocations and avocations, ranging from sports and hobbies to professional interests — all of which serve as a way to extend international fellowship, friendship, and service.
In addition to offering members an opportunity to share their passion for a particular interest with like-minded Rotarians, many individual fellowship groups enable members to use their hobbies or skills to serve others. For example, the Fellowship of Canoeing Rotarians has organized cleanups of polluted rivers, and members of the International Computer Users Fellowship of Rotarians conduct training sessions for Rotarians and other people in their community on how to use electronic media. Members of the International Fellowship of Rotarians with Repaired Hearts — or the “Zipper Club,” as they call themselves — have provided life-saving surgeries to disadvantaged children with severe heart defects.
Rotary Fellowships began informally in 1928 when Rotarians with a shared interest in Esperanto joined together. In 1947, a group of Rotarian boating enthusiasts began flying the Rotary flag from their crafts, calling themselves the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians; this fellowship now boasts the longest continuous existence. The scope of Rotary Fellowships has changed much over the years, but today their common purpose is still to unite Rotarians in friendship and provide venues for enjoying their favorite recreational or professional activities.
Global Networking Groups
Global Networking Groups are groups of individual Rotarians from several countries who join together to focus on shared topics of interest. There are two types of Global Networking Groups:
- Rotary Fellowships offer Rotarians the opportunity to make friends with others in Rotary who share a common vocation, hobby or recreational interest. You can read more about Rotary Fellowships in the Rotary Fellowships Handbook (PDF).
- Rotarian Action Groups conduct international service projects that enhance the Object of Rotary. If you are interested in supporting a particular type of service activity, there may be a Rotarian Action Group for you. You can learn more about Rotary’s service opportunities here.
Vocational and Recreational Fellowships
Rotarians with common vocations form supraclub fellowships to promote cooperation and service within their areas of activity. Some that are listed on the ‘Rotary Down Under” Website (http://rotarnet.com.au/fellowships/VFindex.html) are:
- Antique, classic and historic automobiles world-wide
- International Fellowship of Bridge Playing Rotarians
- Rotarians of Amateur Radio
- Cycling to serve
- Genealogy and Heraldry
- Police/Law Enforcement Professionals Fellowship of Rotarians
- International Fellowship of Golfing Rotarians
- International Fellowship of Yachting Rotarians
- International Fellowship of Cricketing Rotarians
- International Fellowship of computing Rotarians