March 25, 2017

Every day is a day of service

lions club week of service
In the story of Bambi, Thumper said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Sorry, Thumper. I tried very hard to see this effort as a good thing for all service clubs because it encourages collaboration and is an effort to raise awareness of the impact such organizations have on the communities they serve.

Next, I tried to ignore it because my opinion is just my opinion and in the grand scheme of things, it matters very little.

However, I would not be true to myself or my efforts of helping raise the awareness and relevance of Optimist Clubs if I let the International Week of Service slip by without commenting that it is not the best idea to come out of the international office.

The International Week of Service is a program of Lions Clubs International. With staff-level coordination and acceptance, the Lions invited other service organizations, Optimist International, Rotary International, Sertoma, Kiwanis, Soroptimist, and others, to participate and many accepted. Lions Clubs International developed a website and a Facebook page and included links for individuals to get involved. It also included a link for participating organizations to submit their story of service.

Sounds simple, innocent and perhaps even benevolent, doesn't it?

But here is the rub: Optimist International already has an activity that is similar. Optimists in Action was designed for Optimist Clubs to engage others, non-members, other organizations and service clubs, in a joint activity on one day, any day in May. Why is this activity not the one being promoted?

Here is the concern: Lions Clubs International, the largest service organization of all, has been given carte blanche to interact at a club level as it collects not only stories of the community service efforts, but also the contact information of the most active members in all brands of service clubs around the world.

Okay, some might think I sound paranoid, but it sounds like a potential membership recruitment strategy to me. Why would we ever want to give our stories or our valued members away?

As I have stated many times on this website and other forums, Optimist International must develop an integrated marketing communications strategy and it should hire a professional to do it right. Service organizations like Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis have already done this.

Organizations with more professional images will not suffer from this potential membership grab that I fear is in the making, and we can be fairly assured that long-time members passionate to the mission of Optimist International won't be tempted to jump ship. However, those newer members, the ones who are more accustomed to robust online relationships, may find it more interesting to volunteer with an organization that "gets it."

I'm not really tempted to move on; but sometimes, when I see efforts like this one, I wonder, doesn't Optimist International understand what Optimist Clubs do every day? Every day, Optimist Clubs reach out to their communities - other service clubs included - to make a difference.

Why? Because, together they can.


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