You are starting on a journey that will give you extraordinary satisfaction, help you build networks and contacts in your business and personal life, create wonderful stories and experiences and enable you to build lifelong friendships.
Lions Clubs International is an Association of community-spirited people in 206 countries, from myriads of diverse cultures, of women and men of all ages, who subscribe to a simple code of ethics. We all want to make our community a better place to live, work and grow.
Lions Australia has a proud history of achievement and helping the most needy in the community. Think about disasters like Cyclone Tracy, the Black Saturday bushfires and the Queensland floods – Lions were there helping in practical ways. Think about the Bionic ear, the Cervical Cancer vaccine – Gardisil, Fred Hollows – Lions were there in the early days funding research and health strategies long before they became household names. Think too, about the local parks, monuments, sporting centres and facilities built by your Lions Clubs; built by people who saw a need and got down to the job of meeting that need, with their ideas, skills and labour.
You have some questions?
One of the first things you will notice when you meet many Lions is that they are often humble and quiet about their achievements – this is why we are such a well-kept secret. It also means you might be wondering about what it means to be a Lion. Of course you can ask your local club members, but we know that sometimes you want to quietly review things before taking that first step. This blog can be your first port of call. Read through these materials and follow the links, and feel free to ask some questions that aren’t answered here.
1. How much time is involved?
Lions is a “Community Service” organisation. One of our motto’s is that we “make things happen”. Local achievements are always satisfying and that’s why we volunteer.
This means that we DO want our members to participate in meetings and their fair share of community service activities. Lions say that family comes first, then work, and then the Lions Club. Of course you need to think about your capacity to participate, but for most of us, a couple of hours of television time traded for community service is a worthwhile experience.
Like many volunteer organisations, we rely on a core group of retired people who have time, skills and networks to helps us achieve our goals, but that’s changing. Lions needs younger working people to help us do all those humanitarian projects that government can’t do.
It’s worth remembering that so many of our grey-haired, active volunteers started with Lions in their thirties, and have managed their family and working life along with a healthy dose of community service. Think about why they are still Lions and still active.
It’s because a Lions Club can be fun, friendly and incredibly satisfying.
3. Paying to volunteer! What’s that about?
Any volunteer organisation needs to provide services and support to its volunteers – training, insurance, promotional materials and the like. As a democratic organisation, we also have some costs associated with our decision-making processes at International, National and local levels.
Did you know that when a member of the public donates money to their local Lions Club, every cent goes to where it was promised? The club doesn’t take even 1%. Compare that with other organisations.
Lions are immensely proud of the fact that we don’t take public donations to cover our operating costs – and its one of the reasons for our reputation in the community.
That’s why members pay a small amount in dues.
4. I’m a little bothered by the formality at the Lions Club meeting.
Some of the things about the way a meeting is run are to meet the rules of the Association, or the legal requirements of the organisation. Others are part of the “rituals” of the organisation and its history, and the existing members are used to this way of operating.
Lions Clubs are democratic organisations though, and other than meeting our legal and procedural requirements, there is no reason why other things can’t change if the members wish them to. Lions Clubs are apolitical and not religious.
All Lions Clubs subscribe to our Code of Ethics, and are part of an International Organisation, but set their own program independently. They can support projects that are operated at an international, national and district level – and can create and operate their own projects. You can browse the national website to find out some information about these projects. We all know that we work best at the things we love to do, so an important question to ask the club members is “what projects do you do?” and “who do you help”
If you have a passion for a project, there is no reason why you can’t try to persuade your Lions Club to support it.
6. Are Lions Clubs for women too?
Lions Clubs are for everyone – men and women, people from different cultures, and anyone over 18 years of age. Lions Clubs recruit for skills, ideas, interests and labour.
Sure there are some clubs that haven’t invited women to join, (fewer and fewer), but with more than 1400 clubs in Australia, there is every chance that we can find a club for you.
We value the contribution of women in our organisation – great leaders, skilled business people and consummate networkers.
7. I applied to join a club, but wasn’t accepted?
Lions Club membership is by invitation. Your club has a long history of working together, has particular projects they deliver, and a unique style. Like any close group – a family, a work team or a bunch of school friends – perhaps there wasn’t that “meeting of the minds”. In many communities there is more than one club, so if you have skills to offer and subscribe to our ethics, visit another club.
8. How do I join a club?
The first thing to do is to contact your local club, or if you don’t know who they are you can find out on the National Lions website. The next thing is to take your time. Attend a few club meetings, find out about the work of the club and meet the members. Hopefully you will have a long and happy association with Lions, so you need to make sure that the club will work for you. If things work out, you will receive an invitation to join.
9. Can I bring my kids to Lions events?
Lions encourages family involvement, and this is something you should discuss with your club when you are thinking about joining. Many Lions members have brought their children to club meetings, fundraisers and other activities – it’s a great way of teaching them about their community.
9. Tell me more!
The best source of information will be your local Lions Club, but if you want to read more, or discuss your thoughts with the Lions online community, here are some places to start.