Service Above Self and One Profits Most Who Serves Best, Rotary’s official mottoes, can be traced back to the early days of the organization.
In 1911, the second Rotary convention, in Portland, Oregon, USA, approved He Profits Most Who Serves Best as the Rotary motto. The wording was adapted from a speech that Rotarian Arthur Frederick Sheldon delivered to the first convention, held in Chicago the previous year. Sheldon declared that “only the science of right conduct toward others pays. Business is the science of human services. He profits most who serves his fellows best.”
The Portland gathering also inspired the motto Service Above Self. During an outing on the Columbia River, Ben Collins, president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, talked with Seattle Rotarian J.E. Pinkham about the proper way to organize a Rotary club, offering the principle his club had adopted: Service, Not Self. Pinkham invited Rotary founder Paul Harris, who also was on the trip, to join their conversation. Harris asked Collins to address the convention, and the phrase Service, Not Self was met with great enthusiasm.
At the 1950 Rotary International Convention in Detroit, Michigan, USA, two slogans were formally approved as the official mottoes of Rotary: He Profits Most Who Serves Best and Service Above Self. The 1989 Council on Legislation established Service Above Self as the principal motto of Rotary because it best conveys the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service. He Profits Most Who Serves Best was modified to They Profit Most Who Serve Best in 2004 and to its current wording, One Profits Most Who Serves Best, in 2010.