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Rotary 101 - Club Members
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Membership in a Rotary club is the personal membership of the individual and not of the corporation that employs the individual. (RCP 4.030.)


Every club strives to have a well-balanced membership in which no one business, profession, or type of community service predominates. (RIC 5, 2(b)) This principle also applies to gender and age groups represented within the club. A club should review its area’s demographics and aim for membership that is representative of the community. Clubs facilitate discussion of ideas and action by leaders. Members are people who are committed to improving their communities, have leadership characteristics, and apply their expertise to social problems in their local communities.


Clubs also focus on attracting new professionals, including RI and Rotary Foundation program alumni, such as former Rotaractors, Rotary Peace Fellows, Interactors, and others from the family of Rotary who are qualified for membership.


No club, regardless of the date of its admission to membership in RI, may by provisions in its constitution or otherwise limit membership in the club on the basis of gender, race, color, creed, national origin, age, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, or impose any condition of membership not specifically prescribed by the RI Constitution or RI Bylaws. (RIB 4.070.)


The classification principle helps clubs achieve a more diverse representation of their communities. Each active member of a Rotary club is classified by his or her current or former business, profession, or type of community service. (SRCC 8, 1(a)) For example, the employed electrical engineer, insurance adjuster, or business manager of a railroad company, mining company, or manufacturing company may be considered for membership based on his or her current or past position or as a representative of the company or institution.



  • Why does Rotary have classifications and what do they represent? 

  • What factors determine what classifications a club may have?

    Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding classifications, from Rotary International‘s most authoritative sources available.


    Why does Rotary have classifications?

  • Rotary uses a classification system to establish and maintain a vibrant cross-section or representation of the community's business, vocational, and professional interests among members.

  • To develop a pool of resources and expertise to implement service projects.

    This system is based on the founders' paradigm of choosing cross-representation of each business, profession, and institution within a community. A classification describes either the principal business or the professional service of the organization that the Rotarian works for or the Rotarian's own activity within the organization.


    Does Rotary International maintain a list of classifications?

  • RI does not maintain a general list of classifications.  Due to the ever-changing landscape of professional work and the unique commercial environments in which Rotary clubs are located, Rotary no longer keeps a standard list of classifications on file.

  • Clubs are encouraged to create their own classification lists using local Yellow Pages, chamber of commerce, or other business directories as well as professional organizations.

  • Classifications aren't rigid and can reflect many different types of professions and positions that exist in industries. One example would be the classification of lawyer/barrister; this standard classification can be broken down into criminal law, tax law, or intellectual property law, etc.


    What are the occupational codes, and how do they differ from classifications?

  • Rotary International's occupational codes were created some years ago in the event that Rotary found reason to research the industries represented in its membership.

  • These industries are also used when determining the makeup of RI committees.

  • These broad industry titles should in no way be confused with classifications.

  • Rotary International no longer tracks occupational codes.


    Should a club deny membership to a transferring or former Rotary based on a classification limitation?

  • The classification of a transferring or former member of a club shall not preclude election to        active membership even if the election results in club membership temporarily exceeding the classification limits.


    What limitations, if any, exist on the election of a member to a classification that is already held by another member?

  • The club shall not elect a person to active membership from a classification if the club already has 5 or more members from that classification, unless the club has more than 50 members.

  • The club may elect a person to active membership in a classification so long as it will not result in the classification making up more than 10 percent of the club's active membership.


    What classification does a retired person hold?

  • Retired persons inducted into active membership in a Rotary club shall use their former profession as their classification.

  • This will not be counted towards the club's limit of members in a single classification. Club classification rosters shall not include retired Rotarians.


    Do Honorary Members hold classifications?

  • Honorary members do not hold classifications, but shall be entitled to attend all meetings and enjoy all the other privileges of the club.


    How broadly are clubs encouraged to interpret classifications?

  • While adherence to the classification system is desirable, the Rotary International Board of Directors has agreed that each Rotary club should consider carefully the classification practice and broaden the interpretation of classifications where necessary to meet the modern business and professional environment.


    What is a classification survey, and how can I find out what classifications are "open" in the club?

  • A systematically prepared list of classifications is the logical basis for club growth. RI does not maintain a general list of classifications.

  • To identify relevant business and professional practices within a community, clubs are encouraged to conduct a thorough classification survey.

  • Surveys act as a basis for developing and aggressively undertaking specific, ongoing plans for building and strengthening club membership in order to serve more effectively in all areas of activity.

  • The classification committee of the club is responsible for developing and maintaining an up-to-date classification survey of the community in which the Rotary club is located.  Clubs should maintain and use up-to-date classification surveys to develop and strengthen club membership by identifying and recruiting qualified members to classifications that are open.

  • While the club's classification committee compiles the classification survey, it is the club's membership committee and board that reviews and determines the classification of all prospective members.


    What should the classification survey and the membership of the club reflect?

  • A club should strive to have in its membership a representative of every recognized business or professional activity in the community.

  • Insofar as it is possible to obtain such representation, it must conform with the principles in the RI constitution, article 5 and the standard Rotary club constitution, article 6.

Clubs are encouraged to review the demographics of an area to verify that all respective segments of the population are represented within its membership and work to reach those levels if it is not.