One of the most difficult things we experience as Lions is the issue of retention.  Once we get a new member, find that they are really excited about doing the work we do for our communities, we want to make sure we involve them in our events and projects.  But time after time, we see those same members walking out the door.  While we do lose our members for a variety of other reasons, we lose many of them due to our meeting structure.  This article will discuss ways to identify problems in your own club and ways to make the club meetings better and more engaging.  

Is It Really Tradition?

We understand that tradition is important and that some clubs wish to hold on to the standard way of holding meetings.  However, if we wish to grow our clubs and get new members from our current generation, we cannot conduct meetings as we did 50 years ago.  We need to change with the times.  

To assist us with moving on with better meeting structures, LCI removed the attendance requirement several years ago.  No longer are we required to take attendance at meetings but are encouraged to promote more events and community projects.  

The Meal Club

You see, Lions Clubs never meant for us to become a Lions Dinner club.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in many areas of the world.  Some clubs simply stopped doing the service they set out to do and met only for meals and fellowship, leaving service for the others.  It’s very difficult to ask members to join you to “serve” the community when each time they come to a meeting, it’s only to sit and eat.  

Think about your own club.  What does your club do when you get together for your “meetings”?  Do you all sit and eat, listen to someone speak, and  then all leave? Or do you all meet, work on something together, have a meal time and make that time count as a service project? 

Meetings

When your club has “meetings”, do you make sure that your meetings promote good fellowship? Are you trying to hold committee meetings during your time together? Are the meetings so steeped in structure that there is no flexibility? Are the meetings causing tension or strife within the club?

Perhaps a Solution

LCI introduced Your Club, Your Way quite a while back.  It promotes using flexible ways to hold your meetings and gatherings.  It requires taking a look at your members, current and prospective, to see what will truly work for you.  It requires a WILLINGNESS to change things up.  How does it work? 

  1. Establish Goals for Club Meetings. Toss out what you USED to do to plan this.  Do you even know why you are having meetings?  To eat meals? Start thinking new thoughts with your club and decide what you WANT to accomplish.  Do you want to have meals or do you WANT to do small projects or events? Do you want to have a small goal each meeting? For example, January may be a membership meeting.  February may be a fundraising meeting, etc.  Do you want to hear from a speaker? It’s your club’s decision.  Whatever it is, there should be a goal.  
  2. Determine Frequency.  Only AFTER you have determined your goals will you determine frequency.  You may not need a monthly meeting; you may need one weekly.  This will be governed solely by your goals.  
  3. Determine Date, Time, Location of Meeting.  Once you know how often AND the purpose of your meetings, you can find the time and place for your club to meet.  Clubs often think about finding a public place to meet with a meal because they want to invite new prospective members.  It does NOT have to be done this way.  There are a lot of ways to get new members.  There is no requirement that you have standard meetings.  Perhaps your club decides to meet twice a month.  One is a board meeting and one is an event.  The event could be where you are out in the public providing a service and promoting for new members.  
  4. Question Traditions.  Are you holding on to a tradition because you have always done it this way? Is there a reason for the tradition? What are the reasons for the traditions? Some traditions, such as recognizing community leaders, respect for others, etc, obviously need to be continued.  However, some traditions may need to be removed – again, it is solely up to the club. Your club!
  5. Use multiple communication methods.  In today’s world, everyone communicates a bit differently.  Some people primarily prefer email, while others use text.  Some would rather talk on the phone.  Some are Facebook and Facebook messenger users.  It is important that communications be presented in many forms.  Your club can use newsletters, email, and more.  Appoint a person in your club to be responsible to creating a texting communication.  Consider using the myLion application (free) from your phone which allows your to communicate in messages to one another.  

As you can see, using the Your Club, Your Way structure really does have advantages.  It allows a club to decide how, or if, they want to have meetings.  You can have online meetings, in person meetings or a variety of the mix.  

Be sure to check out Lions Clubs My Club for more information on ways you can make your club better at attracting and retaining new members!