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Kiwanis starts major ad campaign to raise awareness of work

Posted May 14

— Indianapolis-based Kiwanis International launched its first major ad campaign and it's aimed at telling the public about its mission: helping children.

The Indianapolis Business Journal (http://bit.ly/2q3M6Bk ) reported that the campaign was prompted by a recent study conducted by Kiwanis and local ad and public relations firm Borshoff found fewer than one in 12 people understand what the organization does.

"A lot of people thought they were pancake people_the ones that hosted pancake breakfasts. Or they thought of playgrounds," Borshoff Vice President Adam Hoover said. "The one thing we didn't hear was anything about Kiwanis' connection to kids."

Over the last year, Kiwanis spent more than $350,000 to overhaul its website; create ads showcasing its mission; and place those ads in Orlando, Florida and Cincinnati.

Kiwanis Chief Communications Officer Amy Wiser says the organization saw a 700 percent traffic increase on its website just two weeks into the campaign. The organization plans to evaluate the five-week pilot, which started April 17, to plan future advertising in other markets.

Bruce Bryant, president of locally based Promotus Advertising, estimates it may take a commitment of up to 20 percent of the organization's $10 million annual budget to address the problem and reserve Kiwanis' loss in membership in "a serious way."

"The Kiwanis have done tremendous work in this community and others. They've just done a terrible job of telling people about it," Bryant said.

Wiser, however, says that similar to other nonprofits, the organization keeps its total administrative costs at 20 percent to reserve the remaining budget for its programs, and that a 15 to 20 percent budget goal for advertising alone wouldn't be realistic.

Glenn Sparks, a Purdue University professor who has studied the effects of media on people, groups and gatherings, said the support challenges Kiwanis and other organizations are facing are part of the "changing media environment." He said many organizations have failed to adjust to the internet and social media, focusing on in-person meetings instead of expanding to the internet.

Kiwanis is involved with many projects aimed to help children, including building playgrounds, sponsoring literacy programs and supporting youth leadership programs.

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