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What is Kiwanis?

Kiwanis International

Kiwanis International is an international service club founded in 1915 in DetroitMichigan. Headquartered in Indianapolis, it is found in more than 80 nations and geographic areas. Membership in Kiwanis and its family of clubs is more than 600,000 members. Each year, Kiwanis clubs raise more than $100 million and report more than 18.5 million volunteer hours to strengthen communities and serve children.

About Our Name

The name “Kiwanis” was coined from the Ojibwe language expression derived from the word giiwanizi, meaning to "fool around," which is found in the Baraga Dictionary as nin Kiwanis, meaning "I make noise; I am foolish and wanton" or "I play with noise."


Whatever the original meaning, the organization's founders translated it as "We build," which became the original motto of Kiwanis. In 2005 the organization chose a new motto, "Serving the Children of the World." Members of the club are called Kiwanians. 

Defining Statement

"Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time."


The six permanent Objects of Kiwanis International were approved by Kiwanis club delegates at the 1924 Convention in Denver, Colorado.

  • To give primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life.

  • To encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships.

  • To promote the adoption and the application of higher social, business, and professional standards.

  • To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship.

  • To provide, through Kiwanis clubs, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service, and to build better communities.

  • To cooperate in creating and maintaining that sound public opinion and high idealism which make possible the increase of righteousness, justice, patriotism, and goodwill.



Kiwanis clubs decide for themselves what projects to do in their community, based on their own community's needs and their members' interests. Service to children is a primary focus in Kiwanis. In some cases, clubs in a geographic region (a "Division" or "District") may take on a project of shared interest.

Service may be provided directly (e.g., reading to children at the library or taking therapy dogs into seniors' facilities), or through raising funds in the community to meet a community need (such as building a playground). Common fund-raising events include pancake breakfasts and food concessions. Areas of service may include assistance to those living in poverty, projects that benefit children and youth, and services for the sick or elderly.


As a global project in coordination with UNICEF, members and clubs contributed more than $80 million toward the global elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the leading preventable cause of intellectual disability.


Blue Spruce Kiwanis has chosen as its international project to support Soles4Souls, a global organization that provides shoes to the hundreds of millions of people who need them around the word, and also gives women in developing countries the opportunity to operate a microbusiness.

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