Connecting to the community through bocce

Connecting to the community through bocce

Need a fresh fundraising idea? In recent years, one Kiwanis club has partnered up for an annual competition.

By Julie Saetre

A sports-related fundraiser is no stranger to the Kiwanis family. But when the Kiwanis Club of Methuen in Massachusetts, U.S., initiated a new event two years ago, they didn’t go with a golf, basketball, baseball, soccer or even a hockey tournament. The Methuen club rolled in a different direction: a bocce tournament.  

In part, the fundraiser is a good example of a Kiwanis club knowing its community — and taking advantage of the potential partners and resources around them.  

“We’re blessed to have a Sons of Italy Bocce Center in our town,” says Eileen Giordano, club secretary. “Many cities and towns have community bocce courts outdoors.”  

So, in 2022, the club launched its bocce tournament, in which teams of four compete for the Gold Cup Award. All skill levels are welcome, Giordano says.  

“This game is easy enough to learn, so no experience is needed to have a good time,” she adds. “The tournament director gives a brief tutorial at the beginning of play.” 

Fees and partners
To raise funds, the club charges each player an entry fee to compete. That fee also entitles competitors to breakfast pastries and coffee, as well as lunch donated by a local restaurant. Prior to competition day, club members send letters to business and community partners asking for support through goods or services — or by sponsoring a bocce lane, the “pallino” (the small target ball during play) or the event itself.

The Methuen Sons of Italy Lodge provides the tournament director and two referees. The top four teams receive trophies.

The 2024 tournament included players from Kiwanis clubs representing six communities, including Methuen.  

“Methuen Kiwanis made almost US$6,000,” Giordano says. “[The members] built relationships with other club members who, hopefully, will return next year.” 

Are your fundraisers getting stale?
If your members are losing their enthusiasm or the public’s interest is waning, a new approach could be just the refresher your club needs. Take time to brainstorm with your club members. What resources in your community could be an inspiration — and a partner — for a new fundraiser?  

To see what works for other clubs, scroll through the fundraising category on the Kiwanis International blog.  

UNICEF announces MNT elimination in Mali

UNICEF announces MNT elimination in Mali

With help from organizations including Kiwanis, Mali is the latest country to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.

By Erin Chandler

Kiwanis International joins organizations and individuals around the world in celebrating the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) in Mali. On April 24, UNICEF confirmed that Mali is the most recent country to achieve MNT elimination out of the priority countries identified in 1999 — those with more than one case of neonatal tetanus per 1,000 live births. 

MNT is a painful and deadly disease that disproportionately affects areas where poverty, lack of education and inadequate health infrastructure make unhygienic birth practices more common. Kiwanis partnered with UNICEF in its global campaign to eliminate MNT in 2010, and since then, newborn deaths from tetanus have dropped significantly. Twenty-eight of the 49 priority countries that have achieved MNT elimination have done so since Kiwanis became involved in the project. Prior to Mali, the most recent was Chad in 2019. 

In 2023, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund granted US$275,000 to UNICEF to help facilitate mass tetanus vaccination campaigns for women of reproductive age in countries such as Pakistan, Guinea and Yemen, where MNT remains a significant threat. The grant also funded the assessments and surveys that validated the elimination of MNT in Mali, and it will help strengthen the health systems there to ensure that MNT does not make a comeback. 

Support for UNICEF’s fight against MNT is just one way Kiwanis has furthered the cause of children’s health around the world. In June, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund’s Pediatric Medicine Support Grant Program awarded funds to help renovate a burn unit at a children’s hospital in Jamaica, add a pediatric play therapy room to a new hospital in North Dakota, U.S., and deliver comfort items to hospitalized kids in California, U.S. In addition, Children’s Fund grants and microgrants fund Kiwanis club projects like free clinics and health screenings, meal programs and accessible playgrounds every month in communities around the world. 

You can make a gift to the Children’s Fund today to make a healthier world possible for kids everywhere. 

Five favorite fundraisers

Five favorite fundraisers

Kiwanis clubs around the world are getting creative with their fundraising. These successful moneymakers could offer inspiration for your club.

It’s an age-old problem: You’ve got to make money to spend money. Your club is no different than the next when it comes to money. Everyone needs some. The more, the better.

Over the years here at Kiwanis magazine, we’ve seen our share of great fundraising events. We’ve had our taste buds tantalized with incredible food festivals and we’ve been wowed by one sporting activity after another, from one side of the world to the other. It seems Kiwanians have some unique and fun ideas when it comes to bringing in the cash, and we wanted to highlight a few of our favorites.

Happy crew 3

Some of the best fundraisers out there are annual events with decades under their belts. Others are quite new and still knock our socks off.

What are you doing in your community to not only make people aware of your Kiwanis club, but also to make some money to help provide service to children and families?

We hope you’ll get some inspiration from a few of our favorites. Go raise some money. And have fun!



Dinner In White

Kiwanis Club of Nürnberg-Franken, Germany

Elegant white-themed meals raise money for a hospice service for terminally ill children. The event raises awareness for Kiwanis as well.

Estimated amount raised: 4,000 euros

Estimated attendance: More than 100

Tips for your club: Create enthusiasm through word-of-mouth advertising, fliers with information about the event and your club. Stage the event in an area that has heavy foot traffic so others are intrigued.



Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Annual event that rids the town of doom and gloom. Residents and visitors write down their worries and stresses. Then their notes are placed inside a 50-foot marionette known as Old Man Gloom. And then set afire.

Estimated amount raised: US$100,000

Estimated attendance: 60,000

Tips for your club: While we know Zozobra is a one-of-a-kind event, we encourage you to take a hard look at the community in which you live and determine what makes it unique. Then build an event around that. The fundraiser could focus on food, music, agriculture, a historic landmark, a waterway. Oh, the possibilities!

credit Sharpshooter

Biltmore Classic

Kiwanis Club of Asheville, North Carolina

An annual 5K/15K race on the grounds of the historic Biltmore Estate.

Estimated amount raised: US$20,000

Estimated attendance: 1,000

Tips for your club: Road races are a huge success for many clubs and could be for yours as well. Runners take their races seriously. Consider hiring a professional fundraising group to help.


Rock Shrimp Festival

Kiwanis Club of St. Marys, Georgia

This annual festival celebrates the area’s sweet delicacy from the sea and offers a parade, vendors, road races and more.

Estimated amount raised: US$14,000

Estimated attendance: 5,000-10,000

Tips for your club: Street fairs are great fun and can draw big crowds, so plan for food, music, merchandise and fun activities. Center your fair around a local food favorite!



Kiwanis Club of Orleans, Ontario

Ottawa’s scariest haunted attraction offers two haunted barns, zombie paintball, scary wagon rides and more.

Years in existence: 14

Dollars raised: CAD$30,000

Number of attendees: 6,000- 10,000 annually

Tips for your club: Start small and grow as public response increases. Scavenge in your community to find inexpensive props. The club produces a manual of rules and trains its 250 student volunteers how to make visitors sKream.

This story originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Kiwanis magazine.