In 1920, something important crystallized for Kiwanis; something that inspired Roe Fulkerson, the gifted editor of the Kiwanis magazine, to propose two simple words— “We Build”—as the Kiwanis motto. It was the coining of the Motto, after five years of painful and exhilarating growth, that put Kiwanis into its stride. Then in 2005, during the 90th anniversary year of Kiwanis, delegates to the International Convention voted to adopt a new motto, “Serving the Children of the World,” to emphasize the primary focus of Kiwanis service over those nine decades and make a commitment for the years to come. In the early years, members focused on business networking but in 1919, the organization changed its focus to service. In the 1960s, worldwide expansion was approved and within the decade, Kiwanis International-Europe was formed, representing Kiwanians in 11 European nations. In 1987, women officially were allowed into the membership. Today, Kiwanis has more than 90 nations that continue to strengthen the bond between Kiwanis and the entire world. Regional Service Centers exist throughout the world, to assist clubs and leadership in Kiwanis.
The six permanent objects of Kiwanis International were approved by Kiwanis club delegates at the 1924 Kiwanis 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.