When an earthquake and tsunami devastated much of Japan in 2011, Kiwanis members from around the world responded with gifts. The Kiwanis Club of Tokyo and much of the Japan district focused their attention on revitalizing distressed areas around the country.
After these revitalization efforts slowed and the country rebuilt its communities, the Kiwanis Club of Tokyo was initially reluctant to proceed with fundraising for The Eliminate Project. But then the club remembered the disaster relief that Japan received from around the world, even from countries that struggle with poverty and their own natural disasters. The club members were so inspired by this support. They decided to focus their efforts on The Eliminate Project as a powerful way to reciprocate the generosity and support from other communities around the world.
Once club members decided to support The Eliminate Project, they were eager to lead the way. As one of the 10 largest Kiwanis clubs in the world, the members of the Tokyo club consider it a great honor to be a flagship club for the Japan district and the Kiwanis world. Club members take great pride in their ability to lead, and The Eliminate Project was no exception.
Current Club President Kenji Ogata explained, “We wanted to set a high target and we wanted to go for it!”
In 2012, then-Club President Kimiko Horii and Club Coordinator Kazunori Matsumoto presented to the club and introduced the concept of the Model Club. Other leaders within the organization, including then-incoming president Ogata, supported this idea. Because of the club’s large size, a Model Club pledge was actually greater than a 100K Club gift. Nevertheless, the club was inspired to lead the way and save lives.
Club Coordinator Matsumoto says, “If there are lives that we can save, we need to cooperate and do what we can to help them.” After discussions among the board and members, the club decided to become a Model Club. Through their pledge of US$165,000 the club will save or protect more than 91,600 lives.
The club carefully considered a multiple-year fundraising plan to ensure that it could reach and even exceed its Model Club pledge. Members identified a combination of approaches for raising funds. First, the club considered individual gifts from its members. The club focused its individual giving at the Zeller Fellow level. Additionally, club members gave gifts at special events and at every club meeting. By breaking it down, the club realized that they could make great progress by collecting an average of US$13 from each member each month during their club collections.
Second, the club saw its annual Kiwanis Family Day event as a prime opportunity to support The Eliminate Project. The long-standing event raised more than US$10,000 for The Eliminate Project in May 2012, and the club plans to devote funds in future years to the campaign.
Third, the club identified a new event to raise funds through a partnership with a local concert promoter. Club members sell tickets for classical and jazz concerts, and 10 percent of the funds go to The Eliminate Project. The club has sold tickets for three concerts already and plans to sell tickets at the fourth concert this summer.
The Tokyo club has a unique connection to The Eliminate Project through one of its members. Tokyo club member and Japan District Governor and District Coordinator Koshiro “Kit” Kitazato’s uncle was instrumental in developing the technology for transporting and preserving the tetanus vaccine. Kitazato shared the story of his uncle with the Tokyo club and the district. As a result, the members of the Tokyo club feel a special connection to the ongoing quest to eliminate tetanus.
The club is proud to promote The Eliminate Project in its community, and President Ogata believes that The Eliminate Project is an influential factor with which to attract new club members.
“The Eliminate Project is a practical means to show how we are working for children,” he says. The club has witnessed an influx of consistent new club members, and attempts to always recruit new members as older ones leave the club. The Eliminate Project, along with the Kiwanis doll project, are two main reasons why new members are drawn to the club.
The Kiwanis Club of Tokyo will never forget the kindness and generosity extended to them in a time of crisis. In addition to its support for The Eliminate Project, the club also gives to other natural disaster relief projects around the world.
“It’s very important to help each other and strengthen our bonds among Kiwanians and non-Kiwanians,” says Ogata. The 220 members of the Tokyo club are helping to keep families whole and strengthen these bonds through The Eliminate Project.