The first clubs were organized to promote the exchange of business among the members. However the members were distributing Christmas baskets to the poor. A lively debate ensued between those who supported community service as the Kiwanis mission and those who supported the exchange of business. By 1919, the service advocates won the debate.
- Kiwanis was founded in Detroit, Michigan, on January 21, 1915.
- 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 organization 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.
The six permanent Objects of Kiwanis International were approved by Kiwanis club delegates at the 1924 International Convention in Denver, Colorado. Through the decades, they have remained unchanged.
- 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.