Attention to Retention You’ve recruited a batch of new members. Or, even better, your club has never had more members. But don’t rest on your membership laurels. Your club needs to retain those members. Retention should be a primary concern of every club. Ask yourself a few questions. Would you join your club today if you were asked for the first time? If you were 30 to 40 years old, would you join your club? Five or 10 years from now, what will your club look like? The point is don’t simply assume your club will retain its members. It needs to work at it. We know the reason Lions leave. Lack of leadership. Expectations are not met. Same old projects with the same people. Lack of meaningful engagement. Induction ceremony poorly conducted. No orientation program. Here are solutions. Attend leadership training. Hold a pre-induction meeting. Make meetings fun and productive. Improve communications. Accept new ideas. Start new projects. Keep Lions involved. This is common sense advice. But too many clubs shut the barn door after the Lions have left. These concepts are applied only after members become missing in action. So strongly consider a club development program to make retention a continuous concern. Attention to retention should begin the moment an individual is asked to be join the Lions. Or even sooner. Arrange a pre-induction meeting between a potential new member, the sponsor and an additional club member. Hold the meeting at the prospective member’s home to get the family involved and even ask them to join. Knowing why Lions stay is as important, perhaps more important, than knowing why they leave. Why are you a Lion today? Think about what makes you stay. Some reasons include friendship, working with other communityminded Lions, networking and fun. Successful organizations survey their customer needs and evaluate current operations to position themselves to be relevant. They make changes and evaluate programs to determine what is still viable and what needs to be dropped or changed. Successful organizations pair senior staff with junior staff to share knowledge and prepare others to take leadership roles. Successful organizations encourage their members to participate in developing the organization’s goals and plans, which creates a “sense of ownership.” Lions clubs are very much the same. Relevancy to our members and to our community is perhaps the single most important aspect of attracting and keeping members. We need to ask if our club is meeting the needs of our community and if our programs and projects are relevant. Members need to participate in the decision-making process at all levels and feel confident their ideas will receive a fair and open discussion. A community-needs survey and a club evaluation should be part of every club’s plan. These are available from LCI and can be adapted to fit individual club requirements. If we are not relevant to our members and communities, we risk going out of business. Lions will decide the future of Lions. Let’s use our passionate belief in Lionism, our passionate belief in ourselves and what we do and our passion for making a difference and ask others to come onboard. Let’s live up to our responsibilities to leave our clubs better off than we found them. Yes, we can, and yes, we must. Adapted from a talk by Past District Governor Dick Silveira of St. John, Indiana, at the 33rd Annual USA/Canada Forum in Memphis in September 2009.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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