Rediscover Rotary Action Groups

By Zuhal Sharp, Service and Networking Programs Senior Specialist, Rotary Service and Engagement

Ron Denham, Founding Chair of the Rotary Action Group for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, interacts with visiting Rotary teams in Ghana as part of a project to construct a water borehole system and toilets at a local school.

Rotary Action Groups are undiscovered gems in the Rotary family. Many of our members have heard of them, but few are fully aware of their purpose, scope, and the opportunities they offer.   

Rotary Action Groups are international, RI-recognized groups whose members have expertise and experience in a particular area of specialization. They use their knowledge, passion, and global network to help clubs and districts plan and implement impactful service projects. By bringing expertise, partners, funding resources, and best practices to projects, they help clubs scale up smaller projects to larger, higher impact, more sustainable regional and international initiatives. 

During the 2020-21 Rotary year alone, Rotary’s 27 Action Groups collectively supported 2,445 projects. They raised $960,682 in total, which was used solely for supporting club and district projects. Nine Action Groups participated in the first Programs of Scale grant by partnering, reviewing, or providing feedback on proposals. Among the five finalist projects, three of them were supported by Action Groups, of which one became the awardee and the other an honorable mention. 

Action Groups are an effective way to expand your global network and gain leadership experience. There are over 34,000 Action Group members representing more than 150 countries around the world. On average, each Action Group has members from 45 countries. Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Peace Fellows are eligible to serve in leadership roles, and last year, 294 members of the Rotary family held international leadership through an Action Group. Plus, Action Groups have a high number of women serving in leadership roles: one in three Action Groups is chaired by a woman. Action Groups offer a unique opportunity to introduce and engage non-members: nearly 5,000 of Action Group members are not Rotarians or Rotaractors.

Action Groups also offer our members opportunities and platforms to make personal and professional connections locally and globally. They connect through virtual meetings throughout the year and host webinars where participants discuss important humanitarian issues and learn methods to tackle them in a sustainable way. They get together with their members during the Rotary International Convention, host meetings and social gatherings, and showcase their offerings in the House of Friendship.

Learn more about the activities of Action Groups in the Rotary Action Groups annual report.

If you are going to the Houston Convention, take some time to rediscover Action Groups in person! Visit the Action Group booths and attend RAGTime, a social gathering hosted by all Rotary Action Groups, on Thursday, 2 June from 18:00-21:00 at the Houston Downtown Aquarium. RAGTime is open to anyone who wants to network with Action Group leaders, share their project experiences, and explore opportunities for service and engagement. Register in advance here.

Tap into the subject-matter expertise and network of Action Groups as you plan your service projects, or  join an Action Group(s) by lending your skills and expertise to a group of your interest. View a list of 27 Action Groups with direct links to their websites at www.rotary.org/actiongroups.


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