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.