Cultivating Membership Growth Begins by Asking
According to a familiar adage shared often in Kiwanis circles, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always, ‘No’.” It’s an axiom followed in earnest by the Kiwanis Club of Cicero, which recently added nine new members to its roster, largely because they were asked.
“We are very active, and we all believe that the more members we have, the more we can do for the children in our community,” says Steven Holt, the club’s membership chairman. “We have breakfast club meetings on Saturdays and we’re not shy about inviting guests to them, as well as our other activities. It’s a great way to get them to join us in the important work we do.”
This past February, as it has done every February for the past 30 years, the club stepped up its recruitment efforts by hosting a membership roundup. This year’s event, which was incorporated into one of the club’s weekly breakfasts, had a twist: The club’s membership was divided into two teams, with a leader appointed to each team. The team that invited the most guests would be awarded a steak breakfast, with the losing team treated to beans.
“The contest really motivated our members,” Holt says. “We had 11 guests and nine of them signed up right then.”
“The important thing is for clubs to have an intentional focus on membership,” notes District Governor-elect David Dixon, guest speaker at the breakfast. “Clubs need to implement the first ‘I’ in the I-Plan (Inspiration) by setting clear membership goals, having a clear plan for achieving their goals, and implementing their plans. The key link in the entire Cicero effort was individual members inviting guests, including neighbors, nail salon proprietors, city park administrators, church friends, and past members. The club clearly modeled the Formula keys of ‘love it, live it, share it.'”
Dixon suggests clubs check out the Kiwanis International Web site for some great tips and tools for inviting others into the fold. His favorites include sharing your story, talking about the impact your club has in its community, and getting new members involved early as a way to keep them. “Connect with potential members and new members on a personal level,” Dixon suggests. “Share with them what it means to you to be a Kiwanian”
The governor-elect also suggests downloading Kiwanis International’s membership drive kit, which is included among the tips and tools. It provides additional suggestions for cultivating new members, including how to prepare for an event, who to invite and how to follow up.
Amazing ‘Feets’ Supports Riley Children’s Hospital in Big Way
What has more than 400 feet, comes in all shapes, sizes and garb, and appears at the Eastland Mall in Evansville every year right before spring? The answer: Participants in the Southwind Division’s annual Walk for Riley, an event that has raised more than $300,000 over the years for Riley Children’s Hospital.
“The Walk for Riley has been steadily growing in recent years,” notes John Worthington, organizer for the 24th annual event, which unfolded this past February. “This year’s walk is the most successful one we’ve had. We had more than 200 participants and raised about $20,000, breaking the previous record of $16,500, which was set last year.
Proceeds from the annual event, Worthington says, are earmarked for the Riley “wing” of Deaconess Gateway Hospital in Evansville, a state-of-the-art facility that serves more than 5,000 pediatric patients annually. He credits the success of the annual fundraiser to the efforts and dedication of Kiwanis clubs in the district, as well as the overwhelming support of the Evansville community and the parents and children whose lives have been impacted by the hospital.
“Our partnership with Riley and the hospital has proven to be a positive relationship,” Worthington adds. “We also have a lot of support from our own Kiwanians who give on a personal level and through their small businesses. Many Kiwanis clubs have also increased their involvement to help make the walk a true division event.”
Enticing walkers for the event is easy, Glenn Claybaugh, past governor of the Indiana District of Kiwanis and organizer of the first Walk for Riley, believes.
“Since Riley has had an association with Deaconess Hospital, it has had a big impact on children in the southwest part of the state,” Claybaugh says. “When you find someone who has had a child at Riley, they know of the important work it does because they’ve experienced with their child or someone in the family. Because of this personal association, getting people to support the walk is an easy sell.”
Bolster Community Service
By Building Youth Clubs
Kiwanis clubs in the Indiana District have been bolstering the service they provide their communities by building and sponsoring new Service Leadership Program (SLP) clubs.
“By building SLP clubs, Kiwanis clubs provide youth and young adults with opportunities to serve, to lead, to grow and to belong,” notes Indiana District Governor Kris Bowers. “Through these sponsorships, clubs help develop young people into capable and compassionate leaders by helping them to learn to help others.”
Among the new clubs built already this Kiwanis year are the Aktion Club of Putnam County, sponsored by the Greencastle Kiwanis Club; the K-Kids club of Oaklandon Elementary, sponsored by the Lawrence Kiwanis club, and the K-Kids club of Vienna Finley Elementary School, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Scottsburg; the Builders Club at South Ripley Junior High, sponsored by the Versailles Kiwanis Club, and the Tri-West Middle School Builders Club, sponsored by the North West Hendricks Kiwanis Club.
Also, the Key Club of Morgan Township High School, sponsored by the Valparaiso Kiwanis Club, and the Key Club at Renaissance Academy, sponsored by the Clarksville Kiwanis Club; and the new Circle K Club at Marian College, built by the Lawrence Kiwanis Club.
“Sponsoring SLP clubs is crucial in developing the next generation of servant leaders,” Bowers says. “When young leaders begin to understand the concept of learning by helping others, they begin to grow personally as leaders.”
The benefits a Kiwanis club receives from sponsoring a youth club are many, Pam Cooper, Kiwanis advisor for the newly formed Key Club at the Renaissance Academy, believes.
“The Renaissance Academy is a new school currently composed of only a freshman and sophomore class,” Cooper explains. “But because of the interest its students have in community service, I see many of them continuing their Kiwanis-family involvement into adulthood. The Key Club is also providing our Clarksville Kiwanis Club with a fresh look at the needs of our community. Its members are also participating in joint activities with our club, with their involvement comes an increased awareness among their parents, which could lead them to Kiwanis.”
The school has an enrollment of only 100 students, with more than 20 of them charter members of the new Key Club. One of its first projects is making no-sew blankets for Healthy Families, a program that serves families in need.
“Young people who learn to give are much healthier individuals,” Cooper says, “and this gift of themselves will extend into adulthood.”
The words are not lost on the charter members of the Circle K club at Marian College, especially Kasey Van Wagner, former Key Clubber and 2013-14 lieutenant governor for the Indiana District of Key Club.
“Being an active member of Key Club, I was disappointed when I discovered that my college did not have a Circle K club,” Van Wagner says. “One of my close friends at Marian was also a member of Key Club in high school and, with help from the Lawrence Kiwanis Club, we decided to charter one. Like Key Club, Circle K brings many values, including leadership, service, volunteerism and a sense of community.”
The club was chartered officially during the recent Kiwanis Family Love Event, sponsored by the Indiana District of Circle K. Its 15 members have hit the ground running, staging a collection drive for the Kiwanis Comfort Cart at the Riley Hospital for Children, as well as a food drive.