Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow (PHF)

What is a Paul Harris Fellow Recognition?

The Manual of Procedure (MoP, covering Rotary Years 2010-2013) contains worldwide Rotary policies and procedures adopted by conventions, the Council on Legislation, the RI Board of Directors, and the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation.

The MoP defines a Paul Harris Fellow (PHF) as “An individual who contributes US$1,000 to The Rotary Foundation or has that amount contributed in his or her name”. It explains PHF further in Section 4, under The Rotary Foundation, that “The most common types of contributions eligible for Paul Harris Fellow recognition are Annual Programs Fund contributions. However, the following restricted contributions also are eligible: PolioPlus and the sponsor portions of approved humanitarian grants.” Additional USD $1,000 gifts to the Foundation by a Paul Harris Fellow, or given in their name, will entitle that person to become a Multiple Paul Harris Fellow.

A new Paul Harris Fellow is entitled to receive on request a personalised certificate, with presentation folder and a lapel pin, and may also order a Paul Harris Fellow medallion. A Multiple Paul Harris Fellow is entitled to receive a lapel pin with sapphire or ruby stones based on their Paul Harris Fellow level.

In the section of the MoP called “Rotary Club Banner Recognition Opportunities” it talks of the “100% Paul Harris Fellow Club” with the following description:

This one-time recognition is awarded throughout the Rotary year to clubs once every active club member is a Paul Harris Fellow. The club is also recognized on the list of 100% Paul Harris Fellow Clubs maintained on RI’s website.

In the Rotary Global History Fellowship Web site there’s an interesting article called “What is a Paul Harris Fellow?”. In this article, PRIP Clifford Dochterman was trying to explain what a PHF recognition was all about, and was especially trying to address the commonly held but overly restrictive perspective that a PHF is “a recognition of exceptional service”. He goes on to explain that:

“To describe a PHF only in terms of “exceptional service” is far too limiting for the entire Rotary world, and totally disregards the historical background of the expression of appreciation for a very generous contribution to The Rotary Foundation. If we did not think much broader in describing a Paul Harris Fellow, and realize it is primarily a magnificent way to raise money for The Foundation, I assure you that The Rotary Foundation would not be one of the great humanitarian and educational foundations of the world.”

Clifford goes on to explain further that:

“Ironically, in those clubs which chose to limit the Paul Harris Fellow recognition to a form of an “award for exceptional service,” many Rotarians were discouraged from making large personal gifts to The Rotary Foundation since it might be interpreted as giving merely seeking or buying an “award.” So, the per capita giving in those areas of the world is much lower than those areas where the concept of a Paul Harris Fellow is the original expression of appreciation by The Rotary Foundation Trustees for an individual, or in whose name, a gift of $1000 is given to conduct the work of The Foundation.”

There are over 700,000 Paul Harris Fellows today, and they are regarded as “the backbone of the annual support to the Rotary Foundation, and those donations are the only reason that enables Rotarians to carry on a world-wide program of educational and humanitarian programs”.

So, it’s vital for The Rotary Foundation’s humanitarian work to foster and grow and encourage people to aspire to become Paul Harris Fellows. Clifford says:

“to recognize a person as a Paul Harris Fellow should always be an honor to the individual, because it demonstrates significant support for the wonderful work of The Rotary Foundation. But, just as a Paul Harris Fellow can be a “recognition of exceptional service,” it can also be many other things, as well”.


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