At some point in a new Lion’s first few months, an orientation session should be provided to answer some of the typical newbie questions and provide background info. Our district has been pushing hard on this in the last few years. I imagine the story is similar in other districts, though the timing may be different.
I’ll attempt a brief overview of some structural stuff here.
LCI is Lions Clubs International, our parent organization.
A Zone is a group of (usually) four to eight Lions Clubs.
A Zone Chair (ZC) is elected each year. Accountable to the district governor and region chairperson (if applicable). ZC primary responsibilities are to support the development of the clubs in their zone, and further the purposes of the association.
A Region is a group of two zones. The Region Chairperson (RC) is subject to the supervision and direction of the district governor and shall be the chief administrative officer in the region, when the position is utilized during the district governor’s term. Specific responsibilities of the region chairperson as defined in the Standard District Constitution and By-Laws include furtherance of the purposes of this association and supervision of the activities of the zone chairpersons in their region and any district committee chairpersons as assigned by the district governor. (Maybe a lawyer wrote that paragraph. I just cut and pasted it.)
A District is a group of three to six neighbouring regions, more or less. A district should have total membership of at least 1250 Lions. If districts shrink too much, they may be subject to “re-districting”, which basically means moving clubs between districts until the districts each have enough members. The district is a major administrative element within the Lions organization.
A district has a district cabinet, or management structure. (It should have some resemblance to the Model District Structure.) The district governor (DG), first vice district governor (VDG1 or 1VDG), second vice district governor (VDG2 or 2VDG), region chairs and zone chairs are elected by the clubs at the district convention each year. The intention is that the VDG2 year is training for VDG1, and VDG1 for DG. The governor will appoint committee district chairs (DC) as needed, and as able with available willing candidates. The DC usually liaises with all clubs in their district for support with their portfolio. That support might be funding for a district initiative (e.g. a district Effective Speaking contest) or participation in club activities to support district programming and goals (e.g. Reading Action Program). The Cabinet Secretary (CS) and Cabinet Treasurer (CT) are two vital roles within any district.
A Multiple District is a group of districts. Ours is “A” – i.e., we are in MD “A” (sometimes MDA). A MD has a council made up of all its DGs, and a council chair chosen from the previous year’s council. There are several MD committees, each with its chair (where volunteers exist). MD chairs are expected to be familiar and experienced with MD governance, etc.
A Constitutional Area (CA)… is a group of MDs. It won’t get mentioned too often. There are 8 worldwide. We are in CA 2, which includes a lot of Canada and a little USA.
LCI, by the way, is headed by an international president (IP) and three VPs. The Immediate Past International President (IPIP) is also part of the leadership team. There is also a board of International Directors. These people are all elected by Lions Clubs at the annual international convention. LCI established LCIF, the Lions Clubs International Foundation, about 50 years ago. The foundation allows Lions to extend their reach and empowers service with greater impact. It’s now a major international factor for disaster relief and in many other service areas. In Canada, we established Lions Foundation of Canada (LFC) about 30 years ago. It is chiefly the administrative function that operates our Dog Guides program.
The Lions’ Year goes from July 1 to June 30. This is the period for which membership dues are paid to each of LCI, district and MD (and your club).
The USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum is an annual event, usually held the third or fourth weekend in September. The host city moves around in CAs 1 & 2. (Other CAs do this, too.) Participants can attend any of dozens of information/training sessions. These forums are a fabulous opportunity to meet Lions from across North America and a lot of fun. Attendance is required in order to earn Lions University (LU) “degrees”. Lions are responsible for their own expenses (travel, hotel, and a forum fee of about $300.)
Sources of information
The Lions Clubs International website (LCI) has a ton of info on many different subjects. In the last 5-10 years, they have been upgrading it. It’s not all evenly done. Clearly they have prioritized the order in which they upgrade their material.
Often, LCI training sessions focus on informing Lions about online learning materials and other tools. The Member Orientation online info focuses on providing the trainers’ outline materials. It might be useful.
At the top of the pages on the LCI website, you’ll see Member Login. Lions can use their Member ID to set up an account. This provides access to several useful and interesting learning modules.
When logged in, you can click “Take the Tour” near top on right to get a brief overview of the member tools. Here’s a brief rundown.
- MyLion is our service reporting app. You can download MyLion from the Apple Store and from Google Play. While you’re there, you might be interested in grabbing the Lion Magazine Global and Lion Magazine Canada apps as well.
- MyLCI is a member administration tool.
- Insights is a cool report of Lions-service-by-the-numbers. As of October in this Lions year 2021, Lions worldwide have affected the lives of 113.21 million people. (Sidebar: This is part of why service reporting is so important. Supporting these statistics means we tell our true story – which enables our partnerships with other organizations – which is great for our promotional material – which is a great recruiting tool so we build our membership and empower our service.)
- Learn links to Lions education centres. Each module tends to take from 10 minutes to maybe an hour to complete. The modules basically include high-level introductions, sometimes with practical ideas and tips that you can use fairly immediately. I think of them as development guides.
- Online Training covers a wide range of subjects, from broader stuff like Club President learning path to more focused, such as Conflict Resolution or Delegation. All free.
- LCI Institutes are in-person (usually) training opportunities. These usually have a cost. The single session showing right now is the upcoming Advanced Lions Leadership Institute (ALLI). This is a three day program that is offered to Lions across CAs 1 & 2 (similar in other CAs). Lions from Canada, USA and some Caribbean islands will be there. A Lion’s candidacy for this training must be approved by their District Governor. LCI receives many applications and not all may attend. There other institutes, likewise intended to develop Lions who will assume leadership roles. Recommended, for those who choose a leadership path. Lions are typically expected to cover their own travel costs, but hotel, meals and institute fees are covered by the organization. See also Regional Lions Learning Institute and Emerging Lions Leadership Institute.
- Local Training might be added by your district. My district is not using this website feature right now, though we are offering training sessions for Club Treasurer, Mentoring and some other materials.
- *** Lions University *** does not show up in the members’ area. But it is a valuable education resource. “Lions University was established in 2014 to support the USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum objective of providing year-round leadership development opportunities for our Lions Club members.” You should be able to register to gain access to dozens of hour-long webinars with quizzes.
- The Bachelor’s Program is intended to develop the skills necessary to take a leadership position in a Lions Club.
- The Master’s Program is intended to develop the skills for Lions to support clubs as District leaders. This program is aimed at District Level leaders such as: District Governors, Vice District Governors, Zone Chairs, District Committee Chairs, Certified Guiding Lions, and other leaders that are ready to foster quality clubs in their District.
- The Doctorate Program is intended to focus on the skills needed to be a training facilitator for adult volunteers. In effect, Lions completing the Doctorate program are prepared to be great trainers of other Lions.
- Shop – Lions’ store, used by club officers to purchase stuff for club purposes.
- Connect – an online meeting tool. I don’t know anybody who has used this.
Your sponsor can also be a good source of information about Lions. Senior members in your club and district officers, and other experienced Lions can also provide guidance.
OK, that’s a lot of info about the structure of the organization outside of the individual club. Many Lions live happily within the walls and projects of their own club. They never get to know what goes on outside. This is fine. Everybody has the right to enjoy their Lions’ experience in a way that suits them.
But it’s fun to see how big the Lions world is, too.
Please feel free to get in touch with any questions or clarification issues.