Take a club history of engagement and generosity. Combine it with the individual passion and practical knowledge of club members. Then present an opportunity like The Eliminate Project.
At the Kiwanis Club of Utica-Shelby Township, Michigan, it all adds up to a 100K Club commitment.
After all, Utica Kiwanians are no strangers to generosity on an international scale. Like many Kiwanis clubs, Utica has members who were part of Kiwanis International’s global campaign against iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) in the 1990s. Several individual members also get involved with good causes overseas, both inside and outside club business. For instance, the club serves children through Mission Jamaica, which gives members a chance to make a difference in that country. Some also do missionary work elsewhere.
“Those members were instrumental in our decision [to participate in The Eliminate Project],” says Kelley Mires, club president during the 2010–11 Kiwanis year. “They know how hard it can be to get things done in other countries.”They also know what’s possible. When the Global Campaign for Children came along, the leadership was in place to make the most of it.
“Any time there’s a big international project, our club has been a part of it,” Mires says.
Sparking and spearheading
Like many 100K Clubs, Utica was sparked by the inspiration of club members who attended the Kiwanis International convention in Geneva, where The Eliminate Project kicked off in 2010.
“We saw the video about the campaign at the convention,” Mires says. “It was as simple as saying a baby is dying every nine minutes from tetanus. I don’t know how you can turn away.”
Of course, a first spark is useless without consistent leadership and club determination. Utica got both.
The club’s foundation was on board right away—even before the delegation got back from Geneva. “All it took was [club foundation president] Mark Rabaut saying, ‘We should do this,’” Mires says.
The club board agreed to the 100K pledge and then took it to the membership for a vote. Mires and other club leaders kept the momentum high before and after club approval, showing the Kiwanis-produced campaign video during a meeting and inviting Matt Morris of the Kiwanis International Foundation to speak at another.
Mires also credits member Ray Weingartz with spearheading giving through the major gift he presented to the campaign. After that, member donations and club fundraisers kept the inspiration rolling.
The Utica Kiwanis Club has always sought out creative fundraising methods. For instance, the club has used Charity Mania to help raise money, and now it’s doing the same for The Eliminate Project. The club sells Charity Mania tickets, which give buyers both a chance to support good causes and win prizes based on the college and pro sports teams printed on the ticket. The club keeps 70 percent of the proceeds, while ticket holders get digital music and a cash-prize sweepstakes entry. It’s an example of the club knowing its community.
“We have some sports junkies in this area—that helps,” Mires says with a laugh.
Another recent fundraising idea is the club’s flag project. On five holidays each year, club members put up and take down a flag for area businesses, which pay US$50 for each flag. The gift also includes flag storage.
“We’ve sold 30 so far,” Mires says. “Most of the businesses down our town’s main road have five or six flags.”
Local involvement is a longstanding strength for the club. So the members make sure the Global Campaign for Children is a complement to its local work, not a distraction from it. For instance, projects for The Eliminate Project are earmarked in the club’s budget.
“None of the money we’re raising for the campaign is taking away from our local projects,” Mires says. “It’s not a matter of ‘instead of.’ It’s ‘in addition to.’”
The club has even strengthened local ties to The Eliminate Project by involving its sponsored Service Leadership Program clubs. Members of Key Club, Circle K International and Aktion Club are planning fundraisers, and Key Clubbers are already helping with the club’s flag project.
It helps to have an energetic member like Greg Smith, who excels at engaging young people, Mires says. Smith is very involved with Key Club, including his role as district administrator for Michigan. “The Key Clubbers have gotten a lot more involved,” Mires adds. “I credit Greg—he’s an amazing leader with young people.”
The Utica Kiwanis club has seen The Eliminate Project engage Kiwanians too. Thanks to its commitment, Mires says, the club has done more than simply avoid tension between local and global. The excitement has reinvigorated many members.
“Some members have gotten more involved than they ever have,” she says.