As I was talking with Charter President Lion Wanda Scroggins, she shared a unique leadership position which was created by the Covington VIP Lions Club.
By Jerome Thompson, GMT-MD
Membership growth is achieved when existing clubs bring in new members, while keeping current members, and when new clubs are formed. In July, 2013, when I was given the opportunity to lead the Global Membership Team, we formulated a plan of action, which spanned a four year period. The objective was to have an organized approach to reverse the negative membership trends of the past decade.
Year one was devoted to assisting clubs to focus on customer (membership) satisfaction and membership growth. Many clubs embraced the Ready, Set, Grow program. Additionally, many Lions completed the 365 hour challenge. With enthusiasm, Lion Anna Hathcock promoted the Club Excellence Program, which led to greater retention of members. All the team work resulted in a reduction of membership loss.
Year two has challenged my comfort zone, causing me to grow personally. The focus of the 2014- 15 year was to increase membership of 34A above 1250. 34A was selected due to the fact that they had the largest membership base, as well as, leadership willing to test new methods of growth. While, encouraging club growth has slowed our membership losses, extension efforts have propelled membership growth to new levels of success.
District 34A has chartered three new clubs in the past six weeks. Each community, where a club has been chartered, has its own personality. While the process is similar, JUST ASK, the method of asking has been different.
Trinity, Alabama is a small town with a population of approximately 2200. The business district of the community could be canvased in less than an hour. How would we find 20 persons to join together to provide needed service?
This club was formed through a friend asking friends approach. From a humble beginning at a lunch table with one community minded individual, personal invitations were issued to attend an informational meeting. The first meeting was attended by five prospective Lions, three of which joined. The second meeting was held about 10 days later, our group grew by another 4 or 5, who had been recruited by their friends. The slow steady growth of interest continued until the club was chartered on February 2, 2015, with 21 Charter Members.
Charter night has been planned for May 14, 2015. This will be the night before the MD 34 convention kicks off in Decatur, Alabama.
The lesson learned by this charter effort is not to discount the influence of one or two individuals in a small community, who are determined to meet the needs of others and improve the quality of life for everyone.
Hartselle, Alabama is a town of 15,000 citizens with a thriving business community. The challenge of this extension effort was how you select the prospective members to approach. With the assistance of a LIONS Club International Extension Consultant, Carl Harriel, leading the charge, a team of Alabama Lions, including VDG George Head, GLT-34A Larry Baggley, GMT-34A Ron Seybold, and Cullman Lions President Richard Gurley set out to form a club in 4 days.
After meeting with City Officials, the membership drive was off to a roaring success. Each new member gave a list of referrals. The business community was too large to contact everyone. Therefore the decision was to work the referrals. With 6 members in hand at the close of business on Monday, the team was determined to increase its efforts on Tuesday and Wednesday. By the end of the informational meeting on Thursday, 4 days after starting this effort, the club was ready to charter with 21 members. Additional members were added at the organizational meeting, where officers were elected.
The lesson learned by this charter effort is that we should take advantage of the free resources offered by LCI.
The University of North Alabama is a college campus with approximately 7200 students. The challenge with campus clubs is how to build a firm foundation which will insure the longevity of the service to the community. After discussion with the administration, the club membership would be open to students, employees and alumni of UNA. The success of the club is dependent upon a student led organization which is aided and mentored by faculty and alumni. Hence, the first phase of building the club was to gauge the interest of the students.
With some advance planning, publicity and personal invitations a team consisting of PCC Ron Seybold, PDG Don More and myself walked on to the UNA campus on Monday, February 10 to hold four interest meetings. When we left campus 10 hours later, we had 23 new LIONS.
The Lesson learned from this experience is that young people are eager to serve when they can rally around a cause. Also, some clubs are built in phases. Phase two of this club build will be to engage the employees of UNA. Phase three will be to reach out to the local pool of UNA alumni.
The lessons learned from the trial and error of 34A will be shared with 34C, as we move into year three of our growth plan. 34B is slated to for a concentrated effort in year four of the plan.
Inch by inch anything is a cinch. I think we can! I think we can!
Since July 1, 2014, all three districts in Alabama have chartered at least one new club. District 34B kicked off the extension effort just prior to July, 2014 in Helena. District 34C, responded in kind, by forming a new club in Daphne. Coming to the party a little late, District 34A has roared throughout the district and formed 3 new clubs, Trinity, Hartselle and The University of North Alabama.
Additionally, the Guntersville Lions Club has partnered with Snead State Community College, a two year junior college in Boaz. The partnership resulted from the club inviting the College President to be the guest speaker at one of their club meetings. During the presentation, the President expressed his desire to see students engaged in “Service Learning”.
“Service Learning” triggered the club’s interest. Shortly thereafter, the Global Membership Team proposed the “Lions Club Intern” program. When these two concepts collided, the Guntersville met with the College leadership to propose a long term partnership which would benefit all concerned. After a presentation to 25 students, which explained the benefits of being a member of the World’s Largest Service Organization, four students immediately joined the Guntersville Club as the “Charter Interns.” Since that time, two other students have decided to commit to the being interns.
When new Charter members, Charter Interns and club membership growth are combined, the Lions of Alabama experience growth. In fact, 34A and 34C have positive membership growth as of the writing of this article.
TEAM WORK REQUIRED TEAM MEMBERS
Often the question is posed, “What can I do to help?” One thing that separates Lions from other service clubs is that we allow our members to decide the level of commitment that can be made to club meetings and service projects. Therefore the only person that can answer the question is each individual Lion.
- If you choose to contribute only on a club level, you can help by inviting others to join your club, or you may join the club membership growth committee.
- If you have more time to give, you could join an extension team, which works about 1 week in a nearby community to charter a new club.
- If you can commit to meet with a club, at each of its meetings for two years, you may want to be a Guiding Lion to a newly chartered club.
- In addition to these opportunities to serve on a team, there are positions on the Alabama Global Membership Team for Lions who want to develop membership programs; speak at State, District or Zone meetings; test new concepts at the club level; or travel to support membership growth efforts.
If you are interested on serving on a Membership Growth Team, please email Lion Jerome Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Burger King jingle, “Have It Your Way!” continues to be a familiar tune to many Lions, although it has not been actively used in advertisements for many years.
The service we provide continue to be a sweet aroma in the lives of those who have been the recipient of our efforts. If you ever doubt the your Lions Club is making a lasting impact, put on your Lions Vest or shirt and participate in a hands-on project. Almost every time that I volunteer as a Lion, someone approaches me with their testimony of how the still remember a kind of act rendered at the hands of the Lions Club.
However, unfortunately, almost every time I engage in an act of service someone also recounts how they were once a member of the Lions Club. With nearly 1.39 million members, we may be the largest service organization in the world. However, I suspect that we have more former members than any other service organization in the world, also.
Lions Clubs International is fortunate to have a professional staff, who continues to publish information to assist clubs in the areas of membership satisfaction, membership growth and effective club meetings.
Just like every Whopper served by Burger King, Lions Clubs are uniquely individual. Yes, the same recipe is used to charter clubs. True, all Lions Clubs provide invaluable service. True, clubs should be customized to meet the needs of its members and community.
Your Club Your Way is the latest training information available to clubs. Want to attract more members? Want to retain those members who have joined your club? Then take time to listen to your members when you ask them, “How would you like your Lions Club to function?”
The Lions of Alabama are positioned to see greater service through increased membership. It appears that one district will surpass the 1250 member mark in the first quarter of 2015. The other two districts
Lions Clubs throughout Alabama provide outstanding service to each committee. However, there are many needs which are unmet. Therefore, as we are making personal New Year’s resolutions. Let’s resolve to do