There are few people I have met in all my years of Kiwanis like George Delisle. George is man with great integrity and whose committment to Kiwanis is second to none. I can't think of a more qualified and gifted person to be an International Trustee
New England & Bermuda
The world is changing, and society is always in flux. To keep performing our mission of improving the world one child and one community at a time, Kiwanis must be prepared to change as well. This sometimes requires us to reexamine programs, methods, strategy, tactics, structure, and even cherished traditions to determine whether they continue to serve our mission.
Kiwanis International exists, in my view, for the primary purpose of supporting and extending the reach of our Kiwanis Clubs around the world. Kiwanis International accomplishes this chiefly by providing training and resources to the clubs, marketing Kiwanis as a movement, creating new Kiwanis Clubs and providing the tools necessary for membership growth in existing clubs. Decisions on organizational long-term strategies and on specific tactics should always take into consideration how each decision will benefit local clubs.
1. Training and resources:
A principal area in which Kiwanis International provides value to clubs is training. More attention needs to be devoted to specific skill training for club officers and directors – particularly for club secretaries and treasurers, and to developing materials which address the specific, real-world issues faced by our club officers. We must remember that our officers have volunteered to take on responsibilities that can be daunting, and sometimes thankless. Training materials need to focus on the needs of the volunteers, and on making their tasks easier.
To generate maximum interest from potential members, Kiwanis should be aggressively marketed as a social movement, in as many different forms of media as possible. Kiwanis International has long relied on local clubs to place advertising materials created by International. This is only one facet of what should be a multi-pronged approach. Kiwanis International should develop and budget for a multi-year, consistent, strategic advertising and public relations campaign aimed at creating public interest in the organization and a public perception that Kiwanis membership is valuable and desirable. Such a campaign should seek the active cooperation of the districts in a coordinated effort, and should emphasize the tremendous value brought to our communities by our Service Leadership Programs and Worldwide Service Projects, as well as by local club initiatives.
3. New clubs:
The ongoing work with the Formula to open new Kiwanis Clubs, particularly in communities where clubs have closed, is essential, and should continue. Methods should be developed to gather data from club opening efforts so that successful strategies can be more easily replicated, and unsuccessful strategies can be avoided. As experience is gained, one of our goals should be to package club opening materials that can be used to streamline the process and avoid mistakes. The recent commitment of Kiwanis International staff members to assist on-site with new club opening and the training of local club opening volunteers is clearly beneficial and should continue.
Kiwanis International should reexamine the wisdom of allowing new clubs to charter with 15 members, a number that seems too low to make success likely.
1. Club growth:
An ongoing problem in many clubs is the perception – erroneous, in my view - that growth is impossible. A club with members who do not believe it can grow will not grow. The Formula teams must be prepared to assist every club that requests help, and clubs currently below charter strength should be encouraged – by personal contact, if necessary – to request help. Formula teams should be prepared to develop a local growth plan for any community and to assist in plan implementation.
All too often, there has been a lack of continuity in programs and strategies between Kiwanis International boards. This may be a structural defect. International leadership should be prepared to critically examine our organizational structure with an eye toward minimizing upheaval between administrations and assuring that long-term strategies can be developed and successfully carried out.
Kiwanis member benefit programs
In recent years, Kiwanis International has begun to develop a non-dues revenue stream and has established marketing relationships with several companies. To date, companies marketing home security systems, travel, credit cards and some forms of insurance have been permitted to offer their products to Kiwanis members as membership benefits, and to use the Kiwanis name. While development of non-dues revenue is crucial to the organization’s long-term financial health, the Kiwanis International board should take great pains to approve only those vendors which offer a genuine value to members, and no company should be approved without a thorough vetting. All such relationships should be subject to the board’s prior approval.
Attendance at Kiwanis International conventions has been on the wane for many years, even as membership has been declining. While there us undoubtedly a correlation between the two, it is also true that the cost of attending conventions has soared dramatically. Registration fees for the recent Paris convention reached $330 US. Anecdotally, many Kiwanians have complained that the high fees are keeping them away from conventions. It is my position that the registration fee should be reduced to around $100, at least temporarily, to determine whether attendance rebounds as a result.
Dues are an issue for every candidate, and must be addressed. It is a harsh reality that declining membership translates to declining dues revenue. The organization cannot continue declining membership as a permanent reality, as that would mean eventual extinction. Our short-term goal must be to reverse the membership trend and move on a path to growth. Along the way, it may become necessary to ask for an increase in dues, and I would support that as part of a comprehensive strategy. However, I would not support automatic dues increases based on inflation or any other measure, nor can I support removing the authority for dues from the House of Delegates.