Katalyzing Volunteering for Kiwanis International

Client Kiwanis International

Work Category Web Application, UI Design


Digital Engagement for Real World Impact

RocketBuild has been partnering with Kiwanis International since 2014. They are one of our most loyal and active clients year after year. When they approached us about designing and developing a web application for engaging Gen-Xers and Millennials in volunteering, we said “of course!” Over the course of three months, RocketBuild partnered with the Kiwanis Innovations Team to design, develop, and launch the Katalyst platform.

Shipping Manifesto

From concept to launch in under 4 months, the Katalyst application has the distinction of being one of the most rapidly ideated, designed and developed in RocketBuild's history.

Mission Stats


Focus Groups


Page Layouts



The Challenge: Connecting to a New Audience

Kiwanis International has historically targeted three primary models/audiences for engagement. Key Club has focused on building volunteerism into high schools. Circle K has carried that movement into college. Kiwanis International’s primary base is in older adults, leveraging a traditional hierarchical, monthly meeting model. This left an enormous gap in 25 – 40 year olds for whom attending physical meetings is difficult. Between careers, family, children, and building a life, the traditional club structure just isn’t a priority for most.

Kiwanis’ Innovations Team was tasked with somehow bridging the age gap between college students and older adults in order to keep younger adults in the Kiwanis family. Based on their own internal research, it was determined that the geographically anchored club model was too anachronistic and time consuming for young adults. This audience is more than willing to volunteer, engage in discourse and hard work, and even give to worthy causes… just not using the same old model.

The Solution: Meet Them Where They Already Are

With the bulk of the targeted audience being between the ages of 25 and 40, the Kiwanis team found it to be a no-brainer to build a digital platform where the Millennials and Gen-Xers could connect, organize, plan, and share. This would give them the ability to engage when and where they wanted. Additionally, the program would negate the need for the local club structure and instead focus on a larger geography and greater pool of peers.

Thusly, the Kiwanis team came to RocketBuild, having previously worked together to develop and launch a mobile application and two websites. The RocketBuild team generated user stories after attending focus groups, turned those user stories into several wireframes, and then worked with a local designer to create hi-fidelity designs.

The solution now includes a small WordPress website that acts as the portal into the application, from which users can sign up or sign in. The web application is built using Python and the Django framework. Though the application has its own database for storing and managing event, discussion, and some user data, RocketBuild also used a custom API endpoint for the Personify CRM created by the Kiwanis’ IT team to transfer user data between the two systems. This allows Katalyst users who were already members of Kiwanis (including Key Club and Circle K) to access their data already in the Personify system. Furthermore, Katalyst users are also automatically registered as Kiwanis members when they sign up.

With Katalyst, users can now register to be part of a larger community of volunteers, organizers, and concerned citizens ready to give back to their city or town. As a perk, Kiwanis now has access to a much broader group of members to help power their projects and initiatives.

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