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Presidents pound pavement for growth

Nicholas Drake | Sep 24, 2018

The University of Wisconsin marching band entertains Dodgeville Kiwanians during a break serving meals at the Iowa County Farmers Appreciation Day.

There is no dodging the obvious in Dodgeville. 

Kiwanian Michele Casper records bids during a Dodgeville Kiwanis radio auction, which raised $11,700. “It was just a matter of coming to the realization that if we didn’t do something, our club would die a slow death,” says Jim Massey, president of the Kiwanis Club of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, a town of 4,200 residents. “Our members could see that we struggled to find leaders. If we didn’t have new members, eventually there wouldn’t be anyone to lead the club into the future. We decided to engage in an aggressive membership campaign and focus on recruitment until we made some headway.”

First the club obtained a list of local businesses from the Dodgeville Chamber of Commerce and sent a letter to each of them with an overview of various projects the Kiwanians supported as well as some of the engaging luncheon speakers the club had previously hosted. The letter spelled out the importance of community service and business networking, along with a note that Kiwanis members might be stopping by their businesses to see if someone on their team might welcome joining the club.

Each spring and fall, Dodgeville Kiwanians clean trash along a two-mile stretch of highway. “Past President Terry Edwards and I agreed to pound the pavement,” Massey says. “Over six weeks we visited probably 75 businesses out of 200. We didn’t reach everyone on the list, but we did go after the low hanging fruit first, meaning the companies we thought would be most likely to support a member joining our club.”

During the first eight months of 2018, the club grew from 47 members to 70, realizing a nearly 50 percent increase in membership. Along with Edwards and Massey, other club members joined the efforts and recruited new members too. The goal of the club has been to get new members involved in activities and encourage them to serve on committees to keep their interest as community leaders.

One of the ways Dodgeville Kiwanians decided to reach younger people was by touting its lunchtime gatherings.

“It’s an easier sell (in Dodgeville) for young people who have families to attend a meeting during the workday as opposed to an evening meeting,” Massey says.

“We have gained a solid new core of members who have been helpful in our club activities,” he adds,” and will be for many years into the future."

The Kiwanis-sponsored Dodgeville High School Key Club volunteer at an Alzheimer's Association walk.

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