Touchstone Story #81–Digital Connections

During Lions Clubs International’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1967, an article appeared in the LION Magazine predicting how technology would change the way people communicate by the Lions’ 100th anniversary. Sharing news would be instantaneous. “Walking along the streets of Chicago, you’ll be able to talk to a friend in Hong Kong and see him in full color at the same time,” the article said. The author was right. In the 21st century, staying connected with Lions around the globe has never been easier.

Through Lions’ digital channels and social media, members can gather ideas, express their Lions pride, exchange tips and share the results of projects and events immediately. With more than 1.35 million members across 210 countries and geographic areas, Lions Clubs International is truly a global network of service and friendship.

“We do live in a world community,” Past International President Jim Ervin said. “We share together, we learn together and we help each other together.”

Staying connected has always been key to the health of Lions Clubs. It is why, early in Lions’ history, the organization established a “News from the Clubs” section in the LION Magazine, hosted conventions and maintained extensive written correspondence.

Today, communication between Lions is just as likely to occur on Facebook or Twitter as by email, phone or newsletter. Minute after minute, Lions somewhere in the world are sharing snapshots of their work—a vision screening, a blood drive, cleaning up trash, planting a tree, hosting a fundraiser.

In Indonesia and Hong Kong, Lions use the free mobile messaging app WhatsApp to communicate the latest Lions news and to call meetings. On the Channel Island of Jersey in the United Kingdom, Lions share their latest fundraising news on Twitter: “Jersey #LionsClub Swimarathon raises more than £133,000 for local charities.”

Conventions, newsletters and traditional forms of communication aren’t going away. But increased digital communication means that Lions can connect quicker than ever. For example, when the Barasoain Host Lions Club in the Philippines donated eyeglasses to students in March 2015, the club posted a photo of their project on the Lions Facebook page. Instantly, Lions worldwide could see the project and share the news with others. Hundreds of followers expressed their enthusiasm for the project, encouraging the club to keep up the good work.

As the world gets smaller, Lions are making sure members know how to stay connected. Lions Clubs offer workshops on how to effectively use technology to engage with club members and the local community. In 2012, Lions in Europe began Social Media in Lions Europe (SMiLE) seminars on the best practices of social media. The program quickly spread to the entire Lions organization and continues to educate members.

No one knows what technology will develop during Lions’ next 100 years to help members better connect with each other. Social media may soon be a relic of the centennial celebration era. But whatever the method, robust communication among members will remain a hallmark of Lions Clubs International.

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. They’re a great resource for promoting service at your club meetings!

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