What is Kiwanis?

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time, and was founded over 100 years ago in Detroit, Michigan, on January 21, 1915. The name “Kiwanis” means “we trade” or “we share our talents”. It was coined from a Native American expression, “Nunc kee-wanis”. In the early years, Kiwanis clubs focused on business networking, but even then, members were serving the needs of the poor. By 1919, the organization had changed its focus from business to service.

Kiwanis became an international organization in 1916 with the formation of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario. Kiwanis limited its membership to the United States and Canada until 1962 when worldwide expansion was approved. Until 1987, Kiwanis was a male-only organization. But after years of debate and growing support, women’s membership was received overwhelmingly. Today, there are about 8,072 adult clubs in 79 countries with more than 215,016 adult members. There also are about 8,427 youth clubs with approximately 342,840 youth members.

Kiwanians are volunteers changing the world through service to children and communities. Kiwanis members help shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, mentor the disadvantaged, and care for the sick. They develop youth as leaders, build playgrounds, raise funds for pediatric research, and much more. Kiwanis clubs and members undertake more than 150,000 service projects each year, contributing more than $100 million and 18.5 million volunteer service hours. Together, we’re changing the world, one child and one community at a time!