Making meetings memorable

Making meetings memorable

Getting new members and visitors is great, but here are some tips for keeping them interested and active.

By Tony Knoderer

Every person’s time is valuable, and each one has choices on where to spend it. That’s why you need to make sure your Kiwanis club is one of the most dynamic options in your community. For your club to grow, members and visitors must find the Kiwanis experience enjoyable, meaningful and memorable. Remember these simple tips: 

  • Keep meetings moving. Welcome new members and visitors, quickly summarize the meeting’s focus and then move into what everyone has in common: the desire to help kids in your community.  
  • Don’t bore ’em with business. If prospects and new members sit through budget reports, committee updates and the like, they might not come back. Make time for these parts of the meeting — but keep it tight. Don’t lose sight of why people come in the first place. 
  • Include everyone. Encourage member input and interaction. And make sure people have opportunities to meet and mingle. Conversation and contribution are key to maintaining members’ interest. 
  • Combine service with socializing. Set aside some meetings for fun activities where old and new members — and member prospects — can enjoy one another’s company. 

There’s no greater sense of belonging than the fellowship of people who serve kids together. Club meetings should make it feel that way. Attend to the matters that keep the club functioning — but don’t forget the big picture. Make the joy you feel in the service you do part of your club’s culture!  

Get more details and ideas for making meetings meaningful here. 

Tips for hosting a successful pancake breakfast

Tips for hosting a successful pancake breakfast

A Colorado club celebrating its 50th pancake fundraiser gives advice on this signature Kiwanis event.

By Erin Chandler

In communities around the world, there are people who know their local Kiwanis club for one thing above all else: serving pancakes. Whether it’s called a pancake breakfast, a pancake feed or just a pancake day, it’s a great way to raise funds for community projects. And it has earned its place as a Kiwanis classic: Some clubs have held annual pancake breakfasts for over 60 years!

On July 4, the Kiwanis Club of Alamosa, Colorado, U.S., celebrated its 50th pancake breakfast. Below, club treasurer Doris Roberts shares some tips for clubs looking to launch their own pancake-based fundraiser — and for those looking to sustain such a project long-term.

Recruit sponsors. Months before the Kiwanis Club of Alamosa’s pancake breakfast takes place, the club is busy recruiting businesses and individuals to sponsor the event. In fact, Roberts says, most of the money to fund the event comes from these sponsors. “That is how we can keep it at such an affordable price for the community [attendees] as well,” Roberts says. 

Call on your community. When hosting a big event, the need for assistance often goes beyond the financial. You may need extra volunteers to help set up and tear down, serve food and drinks, or donate supplies. Roberts recommends reaching out to: 

  • Schools. If your club sponsors a Service Leadership Program, your pancake breakfast could be a great opportunity for its members to serve your shared community. If not, many schools have clubs that would be willing to help — including organizations that require members to complete service hours, like the National Honor Society. The Kiwanis Club of Alamosa calls on the Adams State University football team to provide extra manpower on the day of its pancake breakfast. 
  • Other service organizations. Local Rotary, Lions, Optimist and other service clubs in your area might be interested in partnering with you. (And don’t forget: Celebrate Community is in September.) The Kiwanis Club of Alamosa uses the industrial kitchen at the local Elks Lodge to wash dishes, and Elks also help with cleanup.  
  • Local breakfast-food businesses. A nearby IHOP donates pancake batter and syrup to the Alamosa club, and a local coffee shop provides coffee at a discount. Try reaching out to restaurants in your area that serve pancakes and other breakfast foods. 

Reach out to other Kiwanis clubs. One side effect of the pancake breakfast’s popularity among Kiwanis clubs is that nearby clubs may have experience hosting them. They might be willing to share advice — and even supplies. The Kiwanis Club of Alamosa borrows a “huge rotating grill” built specifically to make pancakes from the Kiwanis Club of Center. “It is awesome and makes a bunch of pancakes,” Roberts says.

Reward your sponsors and helpers. Free advertising is a great way to thank sponsors. The Kiwanis Club of Alamosa displays sponsors’ logos on a large banner and on placemats at every table. And in appreciation for the football players who give their time, the club donates to their athletic department.

Embrace the advantages of longevity. Keeping an event going for decades presents its fair share of challenges, but there are benefits too. After 50 years, the entire community of Alamosa — Kiwanians, sponsors, helpers and hungry families — knows what to expect from the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast. The event has become a beloved tradition for everyone involved. “We have the same vendors each year,” Roberts says, “and they’re always very helpful to ensure their part of the breakfast gets done.”

That loyalty extends to attendees; the club serves over 2,000 people each year.

“To be honest with you, we’ve done our breakfast for so long that it’s now like a well-oiled machine,” Roberts says. “With all of the extra help and the great members we have, we pull it off.

“While I won’t lie, it is a lot of work, it is a great fundraiser — and very rewarding when it’s complete.” 

New Kiwanis club in Pakistan completes water project 

New Kiwanis club in Pakistan completes water project 

In its first year, the club has changed the lives of hundreds through access to clean water.

By Tony Knoderer

In its first year of existence, the Kiwanis Club of Pakistan has already made a major impact. The club recently completed a water project in a village in Sindh — transforming the lives of local residents, who previously traveled up to 20 kilometers (about 12.43 miles) for access to clean water.

“We have been able to provide a sustainable water source within the village,” says Peter Johnson, club president. “This project not only alleviates the daily struggles of the villagers but also brings newfound hope and happiness to their lives.” 

Johnson answered a few questions via email regarding the club and the project.  

Your club is new — did it start so you could do this project?
Our club was not specifically started for this project. However, the need for clean water in the Sindh village became one of our primary initiatives after hearing about the villagers’ plight. The dedication of our members and their desire to make a tangible difference inspired us to take on this vital project. 

What inspired your members to form a club?
The Kiwanis Club of Pakistan was formed by a group of individuals who share a common vision of serving communities and improving lives. Our members are driven by a passion for humanitarian work and the belief that collective efforts can bring about meaningful change. 

How did you learn about the need for your project?
Our club became aware of the need for clean water in this village through our outreach programs and interactions with the local community. The villagers expressed their struggles and the immense challenge of traveling long distances to access water, which highlighted the urgent need for this project. 

How did you work with the village to provide the water?
We collaborated closely with the village leaders and residents to understand their specific needs and the best locations for the water pumps. This cooperation ensured that the installation process was smooth and that the water sources were accessible to all villagers. 

Do you know how many people this project helps?
The installation of the water pumps has significantly impacted the entire village. Hundreds of residents, including children and the elderly, now have access to clean drinking water, which is crucial for their health and well-being.

“The joy and gratitude of the villagers,” Johnson adds, “is a testament to the power of community and collective effort. We believe that this success story can serve as a model for similar initiatives in other parts of the world. We are eager to share our experience and collaborate with global leaders and organizations to address such fundamental needs.”