Membership In Community Service Organizations

I was approached by a customer last night asking if I was a member of any service organizations like Kiwanis, Elks, Lions, Rotary, etc. It got me thinking about the pros and cons of being a member of one. I then started wondering how many of you are involved in a community service club. So here are some questions that I have for you.

What is the motivation? What are the business benefits? What are the business drawbacks? Do you find the time commitment a problem? Is there a particular organization that you would recommend?

I at one time was a member of the Chamber of Commerce but felt I never had time to go to the mixers or presentations because they were usually during my busiest times at the store. Should I have made time to attend?

In the past I was a memebr of Rotary (the yougest member in Australia at the time at 26). They meet weekly and I find it an expensive organisation to be a member of. Later after leaving Rotary I joined Apex (an Australian organisation that you are required to leave once you turn 40 … you then progress on to Lions or Rotary).
The Rotary club I orginally joined was in a small country town and we only had 15 members, most of them around 40 - 50 year olds. We were active in fundraising and doing projects. Most Rotary clubs raised money but didn’t do much physical work. A joke going around was that Rotary thought up the projects, Lions raised the money and Apex did the work. My Rotary club did all, until I moved interstate and joined a larger club that did no physical activities in the community, and mainly worked on international exchange student programes. I got dismayed and left after a couple of years at the new club.
I later joined Apex and was there for 2 years in a very young and active commuity service manner. We did yard clean ups for old people, built and maintained kids play areas and many other like things.
Did I enjoy it? The commardare, Yes. The ideals, Yes. The helping the community, Yes.
Was it worthwhile for business ? The early Rotary club would be a Yes, the latter one none what so ever. Apex, none, mainly as the same in the latetr Rotary I was not working for myself (a multi National company) so there was no spin off (not that you go into these clubs for it).
There were drawbacks such as having to attend weekly meetings, do community work on your days off (especially I had a very young family at the time), attending interclub meetings outside of your own, attending state and national meetings, meeting with community groups, councils, government representatives etc, etc. And of course the cost of doing so was a burden for me at the time. I found the commitment to some of these taxing on my business and personal time and if your partner is not fuly committed then it becomes a selfish obession.
I guess the motivation for me initially was that we were in a small country town just outside a major tourist town and our area was the poor cousin in spending allocations by the governments. The club was small, friendly and everyone was committed to making the town a better place. I can’t recall one member who joined to better their business from it … they were all like minded in making the area better for everyone. Our motivation was seeing kids have an adventure playgroud built in a barren park area, 25mt swimming pool built for those who didn’t or couldn’t swim at the beach, building new and modern change rooms at the local sporting fields so the local sporting clubs wouldn’t be embarressed when visiting teams came and had to change in the local hall.
Would I do it now. No. Would I get a business benefit from it? Probably not. Would I recommend joining such a club? If I was younger, financially secure, had family backing, plenty of time away from the business, retired and looking to pass time, then maybe Yes.
In the end of the day you can only judge by yourself if you are one of these special people who give up a lot to help others. You need time, support and money to be fully committed. If you don’t have these then you won’t get the satisfaction from being a member.
Richard, I believe you will probably join one of these organisations as this is the type of person your are. If you do choose the one that suits you best, not them choosing you because you suit them. Your own time will be compromised as will some of your business time, but going with the right one can be spiritually rewarding.


My grandfather was a member of Rotary (Chicago, Rotary #1) from about 1935 until he passed away 40 years later. My father was a member of that same club and then later the club in Santa Fe NM when he moved there, from about 1960 to about 2005. I have been a member of the club in Steamboat Springs now for close to 10 years.

Rotary is a great organization as a whole. The clubs do vary quite a bit in nature, membership and activities. Join because you value the contribution to the community, like the people, and enjoy the club. In most places the membership is made up of the leadership of the community in business and other areas.

The time commitment is substantial. A weekly meeting, other activities etc. There is an expectation that members will attend a majority of the meetings. I enjoy the meetings at my club. The financial side is manageable. Most clubs will cost about $1000-$1500 per year in dues, meals and other contributions. Some clubs are more, morning clubs that do not do breakfast are often less.

Are there business benefits? Absolutely. I am sure that the business I derive from the membership covers the $$ costs. How hard is that? I would need less than 2 order a week to cover my $$ costs. To be honest, I don’t keep track of it: that is not why you join a service organization. You join because it is worthwhile and because you enjoy it.

I would be happy to provide more info if you want. It is one of the most important parts of my life. My friends in the community are people I know in Rotary. MY daughter is doing an exchange to Italy right now through Rotary. I love it.

I would suggest that you check out several clubs in your area. Go to some meetings, help out with some event they are doing, see if you enjoy the people. Go to the link below to finb clubs near you. Most likely there are more than one.

As the other poster wrote, they differ from club to club in average age, activities, etc. You will find that membership in a prominant service club will connect you to many things in your community… not least local media leaders, bankers and other business owners. Find the club that suits you, where you feel welcome…

Regardless of what organization you choose to join, Enjoy! … fault.aspx