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What is a Paul Harris Fellow?

Last Edited: Mon, 19 January 2015 | Report Error

When $US1000 is contributed to The Rotary Foundation, a request can be made for an individual to be recognised as a Paul Harris Fellow; that person can be a Rotarian or a member of the community who is not a Rotarian.

When a person is recognised as a Paul Harris Fellow, they are presented with a Certificate signed by the Rotary International President and the Chairman of the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation, and a lapel pin and medallion. The contribution to The Rotary Foundation can be made in one sum or by cumulative giving over a number of years. Individuals can make a personal contribution or the contribution can be from a club, a company or business.

Some of the misconceptions or misunderstanding surrounding a Paul Harris Fellow are:

  • There is no such thing as a Paul Harris Fellowship, and it is not an award; it is simply recognition. When a Club contributes $US1000 to The Rotary Foundation, the Club sets its own criteria for naming a Paul Harris Fellow. Usually this is done to recognise an outstanding commitment to the Club or the community.
  • A personal contribution of $US1000 and the subsequent recognition of a Paul Harris Fellow should be encouraged not criticised; it is a donation to The Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s own charity and, therefore, every Rotarian’s own charity.
  • Recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow was never intended to be an award and certainly is not Rotary International’s highest award, although it is an honour to be named a Paul Harris Fellow.
  • Honorary Membership is the highest distinction that a Club may bestow on a Rotarian and should only be bestowed in exceptional cases for meritorious service in the furtherance of Rotary ideals and for support of the Rotary cause.
  • Club Presidents may also award one Avenues of Service Citation each year to a Club Rotarian.
  • The highest award an individual Rotarian can receive is the Service Above Self Award; only a maximum of 150 are awarded each year by the Board of Rotary International.
  • Being named a Paul Harris Fellow is not unique. There are over one million Paul Harris Fellows worldwide.

Every Rotarian should strive to be a Paul Harris Fellow because for each PHF named, we know that US$1000 has been given to The Rotary Foundation. Similarly, for each sapphire or ruby added to a Rotarian’s PHF pin, an additional US$1000 has been given to The Rotary Foundation. We should celebrate each of these milestones (and gem stones) for what they represent. That is, a gift to The Rotary Foundation and an opportunity to do even more good in the world through the Foundation.

What about when my Club names me a Paul Harris Fellow? Or, adds a sapphire or ruby to my PHF pin?

Be very proud and honoured. In your name the Club has donated the sum of US$1000 (or more) to The Rotary Foundation.

The Club is honouring you in a very special way and you should be proud of that, however you are still encouraged to personally make contributions to the Foundation and it should not discourage others to make further contributions on your behalf to continue to support the programs of the Rotary Foundation.

Remember, a Paul Harris Fellow recognises an individual who contributes US$1000 to The Rotary Foundation or has that amount contributed in his or her name.