Our History
The first Rotary Club was established in Chicago in 1905 to strengthen business relationships by providing service to the community.
Founded in 1908 as part of the effort to rebuild San Francisco after the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. the Rotary Club of San Francisco is the second oldest Rotary Club in the World. Affectionately known as “Club #2”, our Club has long played an important role in Rotary, in San Francisco, and in the world:
  • From its earliest days, the Rotary Club of San Francisco has been a powerful force for innovation within the Rotary World. We proved that Rotary was a widely attractive and scalable idea, launching the next four Rotary Clubs in the USA (Oakland, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York) and one of the first Rotary Club overseas (Dublin, Ireland). Many of the 34,000 Rotary Clubs in the world today can trace their roots back to Club #2.
  • The Rotary Club of San Francisco was one of the leaders of the movement to open Rotary membership to women. In 1986, Club #2 made then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein an honorary member (Senator Feinstein remains a dues-paying member of the Club to this day), and soon thereafter admitted Laura Bernabei, Cleo Donovan, Mary Hillabrand, and Leni Miller as the Club's first four women members, all before the United States Supreme Court ruled that Rotary could not exclude women from membership.
  • The Club's commitment to the best interests of San Francisco began with our support for and participation in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, a celebration of the successful rebirth of San Francisco.
  • The Rotary Club of San Francisco is proud to have participated in the 1945 conference in San Francisco that resulted in the formation of the United Nations. Club #2 was the host organization that welcomed delegates from all over the world.
  • Club #2 played an important role in the launch of the global effort to eradicate Polio, donating more than any other Club in the local Rotary District in the 1986-87 Rotary Year. That was especially noteworthy because our local Rotary District donated more than any other District that year. At that time, there were some 350,000 new cases of Polio somewhere in the world every year. In 2016, only 37 new cases of Polio were reported. 
For more details, see our timeline of club milestones.
In 1914, a member tagged the Club as a "faithful friend factory". Our focus on fun and friendship remains an important cornerstone. Members bring in their best friends as new members. And enduring friendships continuously form within the Club as members work together to build a better world. In fact, lifetime friendships and connections in service are one of the top reasons long-term members give for their continued involvement with the Club.
The Rotary Club of San Francisco is over 100 years old, but it is also brand new, thanks to the way we have continuously reinvented ourselves to meet changing needs and address evolving challenges. 
We offer a membership experience that no other organization can duplicate.