Melitta J. Cutright
Lions Clubs International has experienced its fourth straight year of membership increase. While many volunteer organizations continue to see a decline in members, 2010-11 marks the first time in nearly 20 years that the world's largest service club organization has recorded four straight years of membership increase.
“We chartered more than 1,600 new clubs, bringing our total number of clubs to more than 46,000,” said Wing-Kun Tam, the 2011-12 president of Lions Clubs International. “In the last four years, we have increased our membership by more than 50,000. With more members, Lions can provide more service to their communities and to those in need around the world.”
According to Tam, “Lions membership has grown as Lions have employed new ways of connecting with the people in their communities. Our fastest growing demographic group is women.” In addition to recruiting more women, Lions clubs have been successful in reaching out to younger members and organizing clubs that encourage parents and children and other family members to volunteer together. Family clubs fit more easily into today’s busy lifestyles and allow family members to volunteer together.
"We are increasing our efforts in social networking in order to reach younger men and women who want to volunteer to make a difference in their communities and to help others locally, nationally and internationally," Tam said. 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 areas such as India and China that are experiencing success in recruiting members. Membership in China has increased by nearly 25 percent 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 Clubs International has 1.35 million members in 207 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.