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.