Jay Copp 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Survey Shows Membership Growth Potential A survey of non-Lions shows a positive perception of Lions, interest in volunteering and potential for membership growth for Lions clubs. Those interested in volunteering say they want to directly help others, help their local community and value initiatives with opportunities for men and women–three characteristics that dovetail with a typical Lions club. However, those interested in volunteering also generally dislike meetings, customs and rituals, which also often typify many clubs. The survey of 2,100 non-Lions in the United States and Canada was part of Project Refresh, a comprehensive global membership study by Lions Clubs International. Project Refresh also included a survey of thousands of Lions, as well as former Lions, in the United States, Canada and 131 other nations. Those results, including reasons why Lions are satisfied or dissatisfied and the reasons why Lions stopped being members, will be detailed in subsequent issues of the LION. In the non-Lions survey, 73 percent of those surveyed were aware of Lions clubs, compared to a 69 percent awareness of Rotary and a 63 percent awareness of Kiwanis. Most respondents see Lions as helping others: 61 percent say that “services that directly help others” describes Lions clubs and 59 percent say clubs “help the local community.” Not many people have negative opinions of Lions: 27 percent say Lions clubs seem “very hierarchical or formal” while 27 percent say clubs “expect their members to join ‘for life’” and 18 percent say clubs “would have many cliques.” Sixty-two percent of respondents say they have low interest in volunteering. The rest prefer particular volunteer experiences. Nine percent want a volunteer experience with networking opportunities to help them with their career or business. Eight percent say they want to involve their family when volunteering. Another 8 percent want to help people beyond their local community and want an organization with a strong support network. These three groups of potential volunteers–the networking group, the family group and the “beyond local” group–are highly compatible with current Lions clubs. “What some of these non-Lions want matches the types of clubs Lions have,” says Shad Thomas, president of Glass Box Research Company in Chicago, which undertook the survey. Adds Sue Haney, manager of the Extension and Membership Division at LCI, “We’ve made being a Lion as part of a family unit easier than any other service organization because of our family dues structure.” Five percent of respondents want to volunteer for a smaller community group and eight percent want a casual volunteer experience without membership requirements, customs/rituals or a hierarchy. The community and casual groups offer some potential as Lions, says Thomas. Other survey findings: • A large majority agreed that “they admire people who try to help those less fortunate” (86 percent), are “very happy to be able to do things for others” (84 percent) and “my family is the single most important thing to me” (80 percent). • The networking and family groups are highly social. Eighty-four percent in the family group and 79 percent in the networking group say they want to incorporate fun into service, compared to 67 percent of all respondents. Similarly, 60 percent in the network group and 58 percent in the family group say they want regular meetings to plan initiatives, compared to 39 percent of all respondents. • The networking and family groups, again showing a compatibility with Lions clubs, rated Lions clubs higher than those in the other groups. Sixty percent of those in the networking group and 59 percent in the family group say clubs “would have members who could become good friends,” compared to 49 percent of all respondents. Fiftyseven percent of those in the networking group and 43 percent in the family group say clubs offer “opportunities for members to receive awards/recognition for a job well done,” compared to 37 percent of all respondents. Sixty-three percent of those in the networking group and 33 percent in the family group say clubs “would embrace technology,” compared to 36 percent overall. Not surprisingly, the networking group showed the greatest preference for meetings. Thirty-one percent want to meet a few times a month, compared to 28 percent of the family group, 19 percent of the community group, 17 percent of the casual group and 11 percent of the beyond local group. How about meeting less than once a month? Both the beyond local and casual groups checked in at 41 percent, followed by community at 30 percent, networking at 21 percent and family at 15 percent. Female non-Lions showed a higher compatibility with Lions than men. Eighty-nine percent of women and 78 percent of men say it “makes me happy to be able to do things for others.” Sixty-four percent of women and 48 percent of men said they admire people who belong to a service club. Sixty-two percent of women and 51 percent of men say they are “always trying to make the world a better place.” The survey disclosed low regard for traditional Lions’ practices. Regular meetings? Just 37 percent say they would appreciate that. Exchanging Lions pins? Seventeen percent went for that. Wearing a signature piece of clothing such as a yellow vest? Just 16 percent. Begin each meeting with a special Lions’ cheer or roar? Eleven percent. The networking group showed the most appreciation for these practices. Half say they want regular meetings. Thirty-two percent would appreciate wearing signature clothes and 24 percent would sing a Lions song. “What we learned from the survey is finding out what prospective members and new Lions want from your club. Find out their expectations,” says Haney. “A Lions club is all about the experience. They need to have a good experience.” The respondents who indicated a low interest in volunteering presumably would present a challenge to induct and motivate. Only 15 percent say it is “very likely” they would consider volunteering for a charitable service group in the next five years. Just 31 percent say they would like to be active in their community. The survey suggests various ways for clubs to increase membership, says Ken G Kabira, group manager for Membership, Programs and Communications at LCI. More than one in three adults are interested in volunteering. “That means more than 90 million Americans and nearly 10 million Canadians are potential Lions,” he says. “We should be able to grow membership if we invite them and we provide a satisfying experience.” Women in particular also are potential Lions because 60 percent of those interested in volunteering are women. Currently, about one in four Lions in North America are women. Clubs also should consider what kind of potential volunteer to whom they can appeal. “Are they a right fit for the family group? The networking group? Clubs can emphasize their traits that people find appealing,” says Kabira. Clubs also need to make sure prospective members and new members experience the essence of Lions. “Our rituals and traditions such as the vest do not necessarily attract members. We need to ensure they experience the joy of serving others before being introduced to other elements of being a Lion,” says Kabira.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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