What goes on in the Lions Den?
7 July 2005
What goes on in the Lions Den?
According to recent research, Lions love golf, gardening, grandchildren and cooking. And no, we're not talking about the touring Lions rugby team, we're talking about the thousands of members who devote hours of their time to New Zealand's biggest service organisation, Lions Clubs New Zealand.
"The sample research was undertaken as part of our 50th anniversary events to allow us to better understand our Lions members, and therefore the people likely to join our organisation," says Ron Lawrence, Chief Executive Lions Clubs New Zealand. "Certainly the research has shown that Lions are the not the kind of people that can sit down for very long because, if they're not participating in a Lions activity, they're out playing golf, or running their own businesses."
This is in part reflected by the growth in the organisation of members aged in their 20's, 30's and 40's - now at around 20% of membership - and partly due to the nature of the people who join Lions. "The research said that being a volunteer and contributing to society is good for personal wellbeing," says Lawrence, "and there's got to be some truth in that, because we are an organisation clearly on the go."
The majority of Lions, around 65%, manage to work and make a commitment to the community, with over a fifth saying they are professionals and around a quarter of the membership base being farmers. Nearly 10% run small businesses and the same number are trades people.
"We're in no way exclusive; we're just everyday people who have a commitment to our community. We want to grow the organisation and the information gleaned from the research is crucial for increasing our membership drive," says Lawrence. "We know we have people with energy and passion to attract new and younger members, and also know that through Lions, there are a huge number of networking opportunities in a business and social sense."
Golf, tramping and bowls were high on the list of sporting interests, while gardening, cooking and family represented other key areas of interest. "Knowing a bit more about what our members are into outside of Lions means we can tie these things into our fundraising activities, for example holding golf tournaments and garden tours. It's up to each club to tailor their activities to the interests of their members - that way every body benefits."
"With most people saying that they joined Lions because friends had encouraged them to, we'll also be focussing on encouraging members to invite friends to come along and try Lions," says Lawrence.
A significant number of respondents have been committed members of Lions for a period of 11-20 years, while an impressive number had been members for 20-30 years. "Amazingly some of our members have maintained 100% attendance for over 30 years - now that's dedication!" says Lawrence.
2005 is a golden year for Lions as it celebrates 50 years of community service in New Zealand. There are around 450 Clubs, and over 12,000 members around New Zealand.
Being a member of a Lions Club means two principle things; community service and friendship.
Find out more by visiting www.nzlions.org.nz
Other information about Lions Clubs in New Zealand
The first New Zealand Lions Club was formed in 1955 in Auckland. Now there are around 450 Clubs, and over 12,000 members. Clubs are separated over 10 districts nationwide. Each district is lead by a District Governor. Worldwide the International Association of Lions Clubs has a membership of over 1.3 million in 193 countries and geographical areas.
The emphasis is on community service in all forms. Lions programmes serve the young and the aged, the disabled and the disadvantaged - anybody who has a need. Programmes are conducted locally, nationally and internationally. They include sight conservation and work with the blind, citizenship services, hearing and speech action, programmes with the deaf, drug education, and environment, recreational, health and social services.
Lions' contributions to the development and care of New Zealand youth include living skills programmes, drug awareness, an international youth exchange programme, the national Young Speechmaker Contest and International Peace Poster Competition.