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Kiwanis: What is it and why should I join?

Updated on May 5, 2015

"What is Kiwanis?"

This is a question that I get all the time when I tell people that I am a part of my local Kiwanis club. It may not be as well known as Rotary, the Elks, or the Lions service organizations. However, it has meant a lot to me over the years, especially since my dad became a member.

What is Kiwanis?

Kiwanis is an international service organization that aims to build communities and make the world a better place. There are clubs in 80 countries around the world that perform 150,000 projects and raise more than $107 million each year to support their projects and communities.

Kiwanis was established in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. The name of the organization was coined from the Otchipew Native American phrase "Nunc Keewanis," which means "we trade."

There are six "Objects of Kiwanis International" that guide the efforts of Kiwanis members. The main focus of Kiwanis clubs is to change the world by serving children one child and one community at a time. They do this by sponsoring a Kiwanis family club, including:

  • K-Kids for elementary school kids
  • Builders Clubs for middle school students
  • Key Clubs for high school students (I did this!)
  • Circle K Clubs for college and university students (I did this too!)
  • Aktion Clubs for people with disabilities

The family clubs perform their own service projects as well!

Kiwanis also has many organization-wide projects that its members support, such as the Eliminate Project to combat neonatal tetanus, which affects women and their babies.

Kiwanis partners with various organizations to increase their impact, including Boys & Girls Clubs of American and UNICEF. Each Kiwanis club also usually donates to local non-profit organizations and agencies that make a difference in the community and advance Kiwanis' goals.

Can you believe that women were not allowed to be a part of Kiwanis until 1987?

Why should I join Kiwanis?

Maybe you've been approached by someone about joining or learning more about Kiwanis, or maybe you're already looking for a way to serve your community.

Like I said before, I wanted to join Kiwanis because of my ties with it since I was young. Not only was my dad a member, but I was a member of Key Club and Circle K in high school and college, respectively. It was a great way to perform community service, but I also had a lot of fun with my fellow members. It's typically more enjoyable to do community service with friends. It's also a great way to learn about different types of service you can do.

The projects that we do really make a difference in the community and are recognized and even anticipated by our local community members. Read more about Music in the Glen, my club's biggest and most popular annual event.

Our meetings are very enlightening. We not only talk about what projects we'll do, but we have engaging and fun guest speakers. We also play games and do raffles at our meetings as well. I feel that I have the opportunity to improve myself as a leader by attending conferences and trainings, and also by holding leadership positions through the board or through committees with my local club.

Kiwanis isn't just about doing service - it's about the great relationships that you make with the members and others in the community! I joined my club because it's perfect for me - it's a smaller club, with about 15 active members, and we're all very close to each other. One of them is a church pastor and will actually be marrying me and my fiancé next year. We have social events and are there for each other when we have good times or bad.

How do I join?

Find a club! Once you find a club near you, get in touch with the leadership and ask to attend a meeting or event.

There are dues for joining, which range from $140-$200 a year. The dues can be a hardship for many people, but they go directly to support both the international organization and the local club. The club may also cover all or part of the costs for special Kiwanis events.

Let me know if you have any questions about Kiwanis. I am so happy to be a part of this organization and I want to help others who want to make a difference in the community too! I know that sometimes there are superficial groups and projects that make a front when it comes to helping the community, but with Kiwanis, I truly feel that I am making an impact.


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    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S 

      8 years ago from Danville, VA

      I am so interested now! Thanks for this. It is so well-written, too. You're right about those dues, especially in these times. But it seems like a worthwhile community service opportunity and social exchange. Enjoyed it!

    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you Nikki and all!

    • Nikki D. Felder profile image

      Nikki D. Felder 

      8 years ago from Castle Hayne, N.C.

      I had the privilege of working at a facility which is a beneficiary of Kiwanis organization. I admire the caring and giving attitude of the people within Kiwanis. They have an impact on that community. Thank you, Nikki D. Felder

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      So very interesting.

      I had never heard of Kiwanis but thanks to you I do now.

      A vote up here.

      Take care and have a great day.


    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 

      8 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      I have heard this name before as well. Never knew what it was til I read your Hub. Thanks:)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      No, I never heard of it. It sounds a lovely idea and perfectly needed at the moment. Thank you fo rsharing.

    • JLBender profile image


      8 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      I never really knew what Kiwanis did, but I do now. Thanks for a great hub.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      8 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      HI. I have never heard of Kiwanis but any organisation that helps others on alocal or global level has got to be good! Voted up and interesting

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Thanks for this great review about what Kiwanis is and does. It's always been a part of my awareness, growing up as a kid, as a service organization, but my involvement has been with Lions.

      These service organizations tap on local roots and also have a global mission and impact, removed from religious doctrine. More people should get involved...there's nothing mysterious about it. Just pick up the phone and call.

    • suzainkhan profile image


      8 years ago from ludhiana(punjab)

      really nice!!!

    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks Chuck! We love having good guest speakers :) Also, our Turn-Around Scholarship program is one of our bigger programs - we raise funds for scholarships for students who really showed improvement from the beginning of their high-school career to the end, and it's been very meaningful to hear their stories!

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 

      8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Although I am not a member of Kiwanis I am familiar with it having been invited a couple of times to present at a Kiwanis meeting for my employer. Also, one of the students in the vocational program I manage submitted an essay in a scholarship competition run by one of the local Kiwanis groups and won.

    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you all for your interest and for your comments! I was my hope to at least put this on people's radar so they are aware of it when they see its name around the community :)

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      8 years ago

      Kiwanis - I've heard this before but was not aware of what it was or how it could affect our local community. Here in Ontario our high school students have to perform 40 hours of community service in order to graduate. This is something I will pass on to my family members to consider.

      Thanks for sharing - good info.

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 

      8 years ago from NSW, Australia

      Thank you for the information. Community service is always the best way to give back to the community and to make a difference. Well done. you always impress me with your writing.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Respect! I am glad that there are people like you on this world

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      I'm so glad you wrote this. I never knew much about the Kiwanis club. It was sort of a mystery and I was clueless that it involved service to the community. It really does sound like you're making an impact and you should be so proud.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      glassvisage, I often saw the name "Kiwanis" on signs around my childhood hometown (probably on projects they sponsored or funded), but to my knowledge no one in my family was a member and it never occurred to me to ask what it was exactly. Thank you for enlightening me on a topic I didn't know until now I was even remotely curious about. Kiwanis sounds like a very worthwhile (and fun!) organization. ;D


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