To become the largest Kiwanis club in the Indiana District has been the goal of the Valparaiso Kiwanis Club for the last couple of years. This goal was accomplished in June with the initiation of six new members. According to Jeff Clymer, President of the club, the credit goes totally to the club members. “First of all we recruit good potential candidates to the meetings, and the word is getting out about our club, so people send us email inquiries. Second, we try to have very enjoyable, informative, and worthwhile meetings. We give money away at probably half of our meetings and have guests come who otherwise receive assistance from our club. It excites new visitors to see and hear what our club does to help the community.” Clymer cited member Bob Westfall, a phenomenal member, who regularly brings guests; the club sets the hook, and many join the club.
When asked what he sees as contributing factors to growth, Clymer replied, “The answer depends on if we can keep club members actively involved in our projects and continue to recruit new and younger members.” Regarding how he saw service and fundraising projects as contributors to growth, he stated, “ Service and fundraising are why people join our club. If we didn’t help people, we would be just another social club. But guests see what we do to improve local people’s lives. A number of new members have jumped right in on our ramp building projects for handicapped persons. Most of the recipients love the mobility they gain, and the club members enjoy the projects as much as the clients!”
Critical to membership growth is sustaining the membership in the current club. Concerning what factors contribute to retention in the Valparaiso Club, Clymer replied, “ Members stay because they have fun. It is really pretty simple: if someone is presented with two options and they get to voluntarily select their choice with no coercion, they will select the option that is most enjoyable. We have great meetings and projects—in part because we are large enough to have a critical mass.”
Kiwanis has always valued membership growth. This year is a critical year for building clubs and keeping the members we have. If we look at the formula for success that the Valparaiso Club espouses, it focuses on projects and the camaraderie built at meetings. Most of all, they help others and have fun! Thanks to Jeff Clymer for a great formula for success.
Congratulations to the Valparaiso Kiwanis Club. Their success demonstrates the importance of having a goal, getting buy in from club membership, and having fun in the process. And most importantly, having an impact on your community and celebrating it in your meetings.