Melitta J. Cutright
While many volunteer organizations continue to see a decline in members, Lions Clubs International experienced its largest membership increase since 1992. This marks the third consecutive year of membership increase for the world's largest service club organization.
"Our membership around the world increased by nearly 20,000 members in 2009-2010," said Sid L. Scruggs III, president of Lions Clubs International. "This follows an increase of nearly 30,000 members during the previous two years. We are delighted with this membership growth because new members mean more service that Lions clubs can provide to their communities and to those in need around the world."
This increase in Lions membership is the result of Lions employing new ways of connecting with the people in their communities. "Lions clubs have made special efforts to recruit women and family members," says Scruggs, "and these efforts are paying off. We are also doing a better job of showing how Lions clubs are making a difference - how our work in local communities, nationally and internationally benefits others."
Several years ago Lions clubs began reaching out to younger members and organizing family or family-friendly clubs that encourage parents and children and other family members to volunteer together. These clubs, designed to fit into the schedule of busy families, have been very successful. Lions have also organized many specialty clubs such as cyber clubs that meet online and get together only to do service projects, as well as other clubs that serve specific interests and needs of groups within communities.
Lions have developed regional programs in China, Africa and Eastern Europe that are experiencing success in recruiting younger members. Membership in China nearly doubled in the last year. Lions are the first and only service club allowed by the government of the People's Republic of China to charter clubs and operate in China. Membership is also increasing rapidly in countries such as India, where 70 percent of the population is younger than 40. "Lions just organized our first club in Bhutan and membership is booming in most of Asia," says Scruggs.
Lions Clubs International has 1.35 million members in 206 countries and geographic areas. In addition to its efforts toward conquering blindness, the organization has made a strong commitment to community service and helping youth throughout the world. To learn more about Lions Clubs International, visit www.lionsclubs.org.