Do You Support a Service Club?
When I was in high school in Charleston, West Virginia, I served on the board of directors for a new Kiwanis Key Club. It was exciting working with Kiwanis members on various projects that helped the community. That experience gave me a sense of purpose and reinforced the fact that we all have some obligation to help others. Through the years, I have been a member of several organizations such as the Jaycees and Rotary. For the past several years, I have served and currently serve on the boards for Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis plus Kiwanis Club Foundation of Indianapolis.
A service club is a voluntary nonprofit organization where members meet regularly to perform charitable works, according to Wikipedia. A club is defined by its service mission and benefits that encourage involvement. Many service clubs, such as Kiwanis International, Rotary International, Lions Clubs International, Civitan International, DeMolay International, Sertoma, and Optimists International, started early in the 20th century.
A MoneyMinder blog pointed out that many community service clubs began as social and business networking groups but evolved to focus on service over time. These clubs are mission driven and have activities that are varied. Several employers in communities offer employees community service leave and encourage volunteerism for nonprofits plus service club involvement. Many service clubs dedicate their efforts toward helping the disadvantaged, working with students and seniors, plus engaging in community health related activities.
Eastern Connecticut newspaper, The Day, speaks for the nation when it says service clubs enrich their community. Examples of community service include Rotary dedicating a new Ocean Beach Park pavilion and playgrounds, and sponsoring summer enrichment program for middle schoolers. Lions Clubs are sponsoring breakfasts for the needy and donate tens of thousands of dollars for research aimed to prevent blindness. Kiwanis clubs are providing scholarships for those in need.
Mottos for these service clubs include service above self, we serve, and service brings its own reward. Rotary has 1.2 million members worldwide and Lions Clubs has 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs globally.
A closer look at Rotary International, for example, states that it has a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change. Its 35,000-plus clubs work to promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, save mothers and children, support education and grow local economies.
Rotary International applies leadership and expertise to social issues and seeks unique solutions. According to Rotary International guidelines, the organization strives to build a world where people unite, celebrate engagement by people of all backgrounds and strive to serve communities in the fight against the continuous pandemic.
Kiwanis International helps kids around the world. Local clubs globally take on the challenges of fighting disease and poverty. Kiwanis' mission is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. Members stage approximately 150,000 service projects and raise $100 million every year for communities, families and projects.
The objects of Kiwanis include giving primacy to human life, encouraging the golden rule in all human relationships, promoting higher social, business and professional standards, developing serviceable citizenship, forming enduring friendships, and increasing good will.
Membership is not for everyone because it takes commitment in the form of time, talent and treasure. That said, the investment is well worth the return, according to a Top Cop Leadership blog that listed these top five reasons every leader should belong to a service club:
- It's a greater opportunity to serve others.
- It brings leaders together.
- It creates the establishment of strong roots in the community.
- It provides an opportunity to learn from others.
- It allows members help each other out in many ways.
A Contracting Business article encourages contractors, and other businessmen, to join a service club as engagement helps business and the community they serve. Every club wants and needs new members. Contact your local chamber of commerce, which will know service clubs in the community.
A LinkedIn article states there is nothing more American than a service club. A service club makes communities stronger, more interesting and more engaged. Unfortunately, service clubs have been dying over the last several decades. Rotary membership is down 20%, Jaycees dropped 64%, and Masons are down 76%. The issue is not recruitment but retention. Rotary averages 44,000 new members annually, but loses 51,000 members on average each year.
To reverse this trend, LinkedIn suggested that service clubs begin to think in terms of tribes — not community, emphasize time over treasure, build an informal atmosphere, enable clubs to engage the whole family, look at the world differently, and let them rethink you. Seek to have the emerging generation of leaders reinvent clubs according to their needs.
A Word on the Street article encouraged changing club ideas, such as changing the times for meetings and make them less formal, use the internet for meetings and have fewer formal meetings, market young adults with less rigid processes, create new service clubs targeted at specific groups, and think about ways to change to meet a changing society.
A past article in the Indianapolis Business Journal addressed the dying service club situation. Ideas for possible reforms to reverse the trend include elect younger leaders in the organizations, make membership recruitment more important than fundraising as a major goal, change number of meetings and formats for meetings, reduce dues for people under 30 and over 70, seek to experiment and create reforms with new ideas to attract new members. The bottom line is to change the status quo now instead of later.
Do you support a service club? If not, they need you now. Step up and join a service organization and bring your friends. You will bring a fresh outsider perspective to any organization. Each service club needs to have a variety of people of various ages, experience and perspectives to meet changing community and society issues. Your commitment to serve will change lives, including your own.
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.