Melitta J. Cutright or Dane La Joye
OAK BROOK, IL, USA, September 18, 2009 – At a time when many membership organizations are seeing a decline in members, Lions Clubs International, the world's largest service club organization, has recorded two straight years of membership increase. This is its first consecutive years of membership increase since the 1990s.
"Our membership around the world has increased by nearly 30,000 members in the past two years," says Eberhard J. Wirfs, president of Lions Clubs International. Lions Clubs International is the only service club with a growing worldwide membership.
Lions membership is off to a Quick Start in the new fiscal year that began in July 2009. Lions established three times as many new clubs in July and August as they did during the same time last year. "Our membership increase is being driven by an increase in women and family members," says Wirfs. "We are growing because we are showing how Lions clubs are making a difference – how we work in local communities, nationally and internationally on behalf of others."
Lions clubs are reaching out in new ways and to new and younger members. Several years ago they began organizing family clubs that encourage parents and children and other family members to volunteer together. These clubs are designed to fit into the schedule of busy families. Lions have also organized many specialty clubs such as cyber clubs that meet online and get together only to do service projects and ethnic or other clubs that serve the interests and needs of groups within communities.
Lions have held membership extension workshops and developed regional programs in areas such as Eastern Europe and Africa that are showing progress in recruiting younger members. Membership is increasing rapidly in countries such as India, where 70 percent of the population is under the age of 40. In China, 20 new clubs were formed in July and August of this year.
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.