Why is it so hard to hold on to our members? Every year, for the last several years, my district lost a few more Lions through drops than we gained through extension and new member recruitment. If this trend is not reversed, we run the risk of dropping below an acceptable level to maintain our own District identity.
Retaining members should be a lot easier than recruiting new ones. After all, we sold them on Lionism at some point. Perhaps they joined a long time ago and just lost interest because their Club wasn’t performing service projects that made membership seem important. Maybe they joined recently and never made a connection to their Club, District or mission of Lions in their Community. If this is the case, then we need to focus a lot of attention in our Districts as well as our Clubs on addressing these two, very real challenges to sustainable membership growth.
In the first case, our Districts should be helping our Clubs reexamine their service areas. Clubs should look to see where unmet needs exist that Lions could help resolve. There are needs assessment tools on LCI on-line that can help clubs work through the process of identifying meaningful service opportunities that could reinvigorate their Club and drive member satisfaction. District-wide needs assessments can help Districts identify areas where new club development could take place.
It is a real shame to lose a Lion in their first year of membership. Unfortunately, that happens all too often. When exiting members are questioned about their reason for leaving, they frequently report that they never seemed to fit in with their Club. We must make a greater effort to pull the new Lions into “the Pride” and give them a reason to stay. First, we need a good orientation program to reinforce all the positive reasons for joining. Then, we absolutely must integrate them into the service activities, recognize them when they participate and ask them for ideas for future service activities. We can no longer expect that new Lions will be content sitting in the back of the room letting other, more senior Lions decide what service projects are best for our Clubs. It is particularly important for younger members to get involved early in their life in Lionism. If we fail to make a real connection to the service life of a Lion, then we will risk losing our members sooner, rather than later.