Donor Profile

It might sound unlikely—a club with eight members raising US$100,000. But the Waverley, Victoria, Australia, Kiwanis Club has a plan to make the implausible a reality.

This small but mighty Australian club already knows how to make a big impact. It will reach its 35th anniversary this October—but its reach has long been felt in its own community and around the continent. For example, members reward deserving students every term through Kiwanis Kids’ Terrific Kids program—which the club sponsors in seven different schools.

The club also has hosted the annual 24-Hour Mega Swim to raise funds for MS Australia’s “Go for Gold” scholarship program, which is open to anyone with multiple sclerosis and a dream. Joining other Kiwanis clubs around the Australia District, the Waverley club also runs a family camp and a miniature railway day for members of HeartKids, an organization that assists families with children diagnosed with heart disease.

Telling the story

Members orient their work around a simple philosophy: Giving even a little can make a difference. That perspective compelled them to participate in Kiwanis International’s first Global Campaign for Children against iodine deficiency disorders. It later led them to become an early Model Club for The Eliminate Project. In fact, The Eliminate Project has proved attractive, according to Club President Peter Kimberley, because the story is persuasive and easy to tell.

“When you’re fundraising, you have to have a compelling story—you have to be able to capture their attention,” he says. “You can do it with a single photograph. It’s that easy and that compelling. Who can’t help but want to help a newborn child?”

Past Club President and Division 6 Lieutenant Governor Stephen Greene was also convinced of The Eliminate Project’s importance by the “real and direct impact on someone’s life and its ability to help a mother save her children. Not very often are you able to have such an impact on someone’s life in such a simple way.”

Creative genius

Although the prospect of eight Kiwanians raising US$100,000 may seem daunting, the club members find their commitment highly rational. The club has traditionally preferred to be as locally focused and hands-on as possible, but The Eliminate Project provided a different kind of challenge. And the club’s members couldn’t resist.

“I think everyone, in the same way that I was, was captivated by the campaign,” recalls Stephen.

There are Walter Zeller Fellows among its members, but the club has also taken a more creative route than simply opening their pocketbooks. Instead, club members opened their hearts and their minds. The club’s committee for The Eliminate Project offered a range of ideas, from a swim-a-thon and a trivia game to a fundraiser in which balloons are purchased and then released to raise awareness.

The group has the right mix of people who dream up the ideas and people who make them happen. For instance, a cocktail soirée with one member’s “little black book” of community contacts raised just short of US$10,000. But the bulk of their campaign gifts came from a Mother’s Day Project.

“There’s a very good connection between Mother’s Day and The Eliminate Project because they’re both about the connection between a mother and a child,” says Stephen.

Initiated in 2012, the club’s Mother’s Day fundraising initiative invites website and Facebook visitors to learn about the impact of maternal and neonatal tetanus and save other mothers and children on behalf of someone they love. The Waverley Club made gift opportunities available through PayPal, and they worked to arrange advertising through a current affairs television show and social media. Ultimately, the club raised US$17,000.

2012 served as a pilot for the Mother’s Day fundraising initiative. The club expects 2013-15 to reap much higher returns.

Doing the math

Once the Waverley club realized it could become a 100K Club, its members started to think about making the leap.

“We didn’t sit down and say ‘How on Earth do we do this?’ It came the other way around,” Peter Kimberley says. “I’d give that advice to any club: Think first about how you might raise the money each year, so you don’t drive yourself mad about how it is going to appear. Then commit to a goal.”

Stephen laughs at the question of whether the US$100,000 goal has ever felt overwhelming.

“I’m a naturally optimistic person,” he says. “When you break it down over five years, it is not a scary target. If a club of eight can do it, any size club could do it if they put their mind to it. They just need to come up with some good ideas as well.

“Rather than trying to look at why things won’t work or why we can’t do it, we’ve always thought, ‘Let’s give it a go.’”

Peter hopes the club’s success with The Eliminate Project can serve as a successful example for other clubs struggling to meet their fundraising targets. It’s also an example of the campaign’s impact on club growth: Since making the 100K Club commitment, the Waverley club has grown to 12 members.

“For us, it has been a great way to bring the club together and unify toward one goal,” Stephen says. “And it has been a wonderful way to publicize Kiwanis in the community because it is an easy project to explain—and that helps us, in turn, explain Kiwanis.”

Peter agrees. “Ultimately because of the mother-child connection that the project centers around, I think it resonates perfectly with most women. They are Kiwanis International’s greatest growth potential.”

Ways to Achieve

Donor Profiles

profile

Name of club: Kiwanis Club of Waverley

Hometown: Waverley, Victoria, Australia

Serving children since: 1978

Members: 12

Community involvement: Terrific Kids programs, HeartKids, Educational Play Therapy Departments at Monash Medical Center and the Royal Children's Hospital

Upcoming fundraisers: Events, personal contributions, club gifts, local Mother's Day initiative

Donation: US$100,000

Impact: Save or protect more than 55,000 women and their future babies