What draws prospective members to Kiwanis? Often a desire for service and fellowship. But for Helene Dudla, the 38-year-old treasurer of the Kiwanis Club of Edison, New Jersey, the attraction was a bit more tangible. She owes her membership to a shirt.
Dudla participated in Circle K during college, then lost touch with the organization after graduating and moving out of state. But in the summer of 2011 happenstance brought her back into the fold. She'd recently returned to New Jersey and was working at a salesperson at the local Macy's. One day she spotted a shopper wearing a Kiwanis T-shirt.
"I hadn't even been thinking about the organization," she recalls. "When I saw him, I decided to ask him what was going on. And I thought, ‘This is something I really want to get back into.’"
It didn't hurt that the shirt's wearer was Steven Nagel, secretary of the Edison Kiwanis Club and New Jersey District The Formula Chair. Or that years earlier he'd served as the Kiwanis advisor to Dudla's Circle K club. Not surprisingly, he quickly capitalized on the chance encounter.
"I invited her to a meeting," Nagel says. "We want everybody to come to a meeting before they join, to see if it's something they want to do."
Dudla turned up at the very next gathering, liked what she saw and joined right away. The trick to getting even more members, she says, is to make sure local clubs cut a high profile in their communities—anything from wearing Kiwanis logo clothing (and being ready to answer questions and issue invitations to anyone who enquires about it) to garnering as much publicity and attention for club projects as possible.
"I think that's the key," Dudla says. "Showing people what we do rather than just telling them."
Nagel couldn't agree more. Increasing a club's community profile translates into more contacts with prospective members such as Dudla—and more opportunities to invite them to meetings and perhaps sign on.
"Don't be afraid to ask people to join," he advises. "Don't be afraid to ask people to come to a meeting or a project. If you ask someone and they say no, just move on to the next person."
And don't be afraid to wear your Kiwanis logo clothing. You never know who you might meet. — Sam Stall
Has sporting Kiwanis logowear helped you to invite someone to check out your club? Tell us how at firstname.lastname@example.org.