Posted on Mar 20, 2022

In 2015-2016, Past Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran challenged us as Rotarians to use our gifts – talents, knowledge, abilities, and efforts – to make a genuine impact through fellowship and service activities; to leverage our Rotary network and access the many resources at our disposal to plan projects using our skills, expertise, and passions to improve communities near and far.

But, how do we really maximize the utility and benefit of being a Rotarian? And how can we each provide Rotary as a gift to our community?

Watch and listen to the video above as Beck Keck from the Rotary Club of Bentonville, Arkansas describes all the ways in which vocational service in Rotary can be a gift to others and serve to change lives, then read on to find out more information and ideas on putting vocational service into practice.



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.


The Object of Rotary is a philosophical statement of Rotary’s purpose and the responsibilities of Rotarians. The concept of vocational service is rooted in the second object, which calls on Rotarians to encourage and foster:
  • High ethical standards in business and professions
  • The recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations
  • The dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society
As a Rotarian, how can you put these ideals into action? Consider these suggestions:
  • Talk about your profession in your club, and take time to learn about fellow members’ occupations.
  • Use your skills and expertise to serve a community.
  • Practice your profession with integrity, and inspire others to behave ethically through your words and actions.
  • Help young people achieve their career goals.
  • Guide and encourage others in their professional development.
By undertaking these activities, you bring vocational service to life. Vocational service is the essence of Rotary and serves as the foundation from which we serve our communities around the world.


Rotary emphasizes integrity and high ethical standards. Two standards developed by Rotarians — The Four-Way Test and the Rotarian Code of Conduct — provide a road map for ethical behavior in the workplace and other areas of life.


The Four-Way Test was conceived in 1932 by businessman Herbert J. Taylor, a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, who served as Rotary International president in 1954-55. Having taken on the task of saving a company from bankruptcy, Taylor developed the test as an ethical guide to follow in all business matters. The company’s survival was credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary International in 1934, The Four-Way Test remains an essential standard against which Rotarians measure ethical behavior. It has been translated into dozens of languages and promoted by Rotarians worldwide.


The Rotarian Code of Conduct provides a framework for ethical behavior that all Rotarians can use, together with The Four-Way Test, in their business and professional activities.

As part of Rotary’s guiding principles and the Avenues of Service, Vocational Service calls on Rotarians to empower others by using their unique skills and expertise to address community needs and help others discover new professional opportunities and interests. This handbook can help you gain a better understanding of vocational service and provide you with ideas to practice it through your service activities, in your personal life, and in your career. 


By including men and women from diverse professions and backgrounds, Rotary recognizes the importance of all skills and occupations. A vibrant Rotary club reflects the businesses, organizations, and professions in its community, embracing diversity in experiences and perspectives. Your professional life and vocational service go together. Rotarians have a dual responsibility: to represent their occupations within their club and to exemplify the ideals of Rotary in their places of work. 


Join a Rotarian Action Group, and support service projects around the world. These independent groups include Rotarians, family members, and Rotary program participants and alumni who have expertise in a particular field. Members advise clubs and districts and collaborate with them on service projects. Learn more at

Join or form a Rotary Fellowship that’s related to your vocation. Rotary Fellowships are international groups of Rotarians, family members, and program participants and alumni who share a vocational or recreational interest. Many fellowships are related to professions, such as Editors and Publishers, Health Professionals, Lawyers, Photographers, and Police and Law Enforcement. See more at

Volunteer to work on a service project, and use your vocational skills to serve others. Think about the skills that make you successful in your profession: Maybe you have training in some branch of science or medicine, are handy with tools or machinery, know how to start a business, have expertise managing finances, or can influence others through public speaking or writing. Use your unique set of talents to make a difference in your community.

Share your expertise through your district resource network. If you have technical expertise in one of Rotary’s six areas of focus — or with project planning and implementation; community assessment, measurement, and evaluation; or other important aspects of large-scale project grants — let your district international service chair know. Lend your skills to local clubs, and help develop projects with greater impact.

Participate in a vocation-related Rotary Friendship Exchange. Work with your district Rotary Friendship Exchange chair to organize an international, reciprocal exchange between two districts interested in exploring a professional field in a new cultural context. Involve young professionals, and organize activities allowing exchange participants to experience cultural immersion while exploring their field in a new environment.


As leaders in their businesses and professions, Rotarians can advance high ethical standards by setting a positive example among colleagues and in their community. Here are a few specific ways Rotarians integrate ethics into their daily work life:
  • Discuss and emphasize honesty, accountability, fairness, integrity, and respect when hiring, training, and supervising employees
  • Praise and encourage the exemplary behavior of colleagues
  • Demonstrate personal commitment to high ethical standards in relations with customers, vendors, and business associates, treating each business interaction with care and consideration
  • Promote socially and environmentally responsible practices in your businesses and organizations 


  • Educate current and new club members. Dedicate time to discussing the importance of The Four-Way Test and the Rotarian Code of Conduct.
  • Discuss ethical dilemmas. Organize a workshop or interactive activity to discuss ethical resolutions to challenging scenarios.
  • Recognize those who do good. Honor businesses or professionals that demonstrate high ethical standards.
  • Engage young people. Mentorship opportunities allow you to share your knowledge and guide youth in building a successful future. Consider conducting workshops or hosting professional development seminars. 


Founded as a business networking organization, Rotary emphasizes the importance of bringing together business and professional leaders for the purposes of exchanging ideas, developing relationships, and improving communities. Rotary members are committed to professional development and advancing their skills. Rotarians can pursue this commitment through activities that increase their knowledge, and by guiding and training others to find gainful, fulfilling employment.


Host an event for business networking and professional development in your community
  • The Rotary Club of Bentonville, Arkansas, USA, recognized that students and employees of small- and medium-sized businesses lacked access to inspiring professional development events such as International Women’s Day celebrations. With the support of local women leaders and Rotary International President Elect Jennifer Jones and Past Director Mary Beth Growney Selene, the club organized its first International Women’s Day symposium. More than 300 students and both women and men from the community got to hear how accomplished women advance in their careers and balance their personal lives.
  • To provide training, tools, and networking opportunities in business, Rotary clubs in California, USA, sponsored a Young Professionals Conference, which connected experienced professionals with youth at the start of their careers. The one-day conference featured entrepreneurs and philanthropists discussing issues and ideas related to advancing a career and developing personally and professionally. Offer career counseling and guidance
  • The Rotaract Club of Cape Munyonyo in Uganda carries out a project in secondary schools every year to mentor Interactors in professional development, career guidance, and service.
  • The Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, USA, partners with their Rotaract club on a mentoring program. Rotaractors are paired with Rotarians to foster stronger vocational, civic, and personal relationships. Rotaractors learn from Rotarians, especially in areas related to their future careers and industry sectors, and Rotarians have the chance to share vocational expertise with youth. Inspire the next generation
  • The Rotary E-Club of Tamar Hong Kong, Hong Kong, organized seminars for youth in its community aimed at teaching balance between everyday life and a career. Members of the club shared insights on different industries such as travel, jewelry, entertainment, and entrepreneurship. Youth also learned how to write a résumé and cover letter, and they received suggestions on how to interview successfully.
  • The Rotary Club of Madras Industrial City, Tamil Nadu, India conducted a career guidance workshop for its Interact club to help students discover their interests. The district vocational service chair arranged a half-day interactive session for students to form career goals and plan for their future vocations. A special workshop was conducted for girls, and more than 200 students benefited from the project.


A vocational training team (VTT) offers a hands-on approach to vocational service. In VTTs, groups of professionals travel either to learn more about their vocation or to teach local professionals about a particular field. A VTT helps create sustainable change by strengthening the knowledge and skills of individuals an communities, thereby improving their capacity to serve. In addition to experiencing a new culture and fostering global connections, Rotarians participating in a vocational training team have the opportunity to make an impact long after their travels end.

Teams can qualify for a global grant through The Rotary Foundation so long as they address one of Rotary’s six areas of focus and follow certain specific guidelines for scope, sustainability, and measurability. Funded teams must consist of at least one Rotarian team leader with general Rotary knowledge, leadership skills, international experience, and expertise in the area of focus; and at least two other participants (Rotarians or non-Rotarians) with two years of work experience in the area of focus. Learn more and see complete guidelines for global grant funded VTTs at