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Mission and History

In 1917, Melvin Jones, a Chicago business leader, told members of his local business club they should reach beyond business issues and address the betterment of their communities and the world. Jones' group, the Business Circle of Chicago, agreed.

After contacting similar groups around the United States, an organizational meeting was held on June 7, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The new group took the name of one of the invited groups, the "Association of Lions Clubs," and a national convention was held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of that year. A constitution, by-laws, objects and a code of ethics were approved.

Within three years, Lions became an international organization. Since then, we've earned high marks for both integrity and transparency. We're a well-run organization with a steady vision, a clear mission, and a long – and proud – history.

Vision Statement

To be the global leader in community and humanitarian service.

Mission Statement

To empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.

Lions International Purposes

  • To Organize, charter and supervise service clubs to be known as Lions clubs.
  • To Coordinate the activities and standardize the administration of Lions clubs.
  • To Create and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the world.
  • To Promote the principles of good government and good citizenship.
  • To Take an active interest in the civic, cultural, social and moral welfare of the community.
  • To Unite the clubs in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship and mutual understanding.
  • To Provide a forum for the open discussion of all matters of public interest; provided, however, that partisan politics and sectarian religion shall not be debated by club members.
  • To Encourage service-minded people to serve their community without personal financial reward, and to encourage efficiency and promote high ethical standards in commerce, industry, professions, public works and private endeavors.

Lions Code of Ethics

  • To Show my faith in the worthiness of my vocation by industrious application to the end that I may merit a reputation for quality of service.
  • To Seek success and to demand all fair remuneration or profit as my just due, but to accept no profit or success at the price of my own self-respect lost because of unfair advantage taken or because of questionable acts on my part.
  • To Remember that in building up my business it is not necessary to tear down another's; to be loyal to my clients or customers and true to myself.
  • Whenever a doubt arises as to the right or ethics of my position or action towards others, to resolve such doubt against myself.
  • To Hold friendship as an end and not a means. To hold that true friendship exists not on account of the service performed by one another, but that true friendship demands nothing but accepts service in the spirit in which it is given.
  • Always to bear in mind my obligations as a citizen to my nation, my state, and my community, as to give them my unswerving loyalty in word, act, and deed. To give them freely of my time, labor and means.
  • To Aid others by giving my sympathy to those in distress, my aid to the weak, and my substance to the needy.
  • To Be Careful with my criticism and liberal with my praise; to build up and not destroy.

Beginning in 1917

Chicago business leader Melvin Jones asked a simple and world-changing question – what if people put their talents to work improving their communities? Almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization, with more than 1.3 million members in more than 45,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let's improve our communities.

1920: Going International

Just three years after our founding, Lions became international when we established the first club in Canada. Mexico followed in 1927. In the 1950s and 1960s international growth accelerated, with new clubs in Europe, Asia and Africa.

1925: Eradicating Blindness

Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA, and challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Since then, we have worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired.

1945: Uniting Nations

The ideal of an international organization is exemplified by our enduring relationship with the United Nations. We were one of the first nongovernmental organizations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter and have supported the work of the UN ever since.

1957: Organizing Youth Programs

In the late 1950s, we created the Leo Program to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for personal development through volunteering. There are approximately 144,000 Leos and 5,700 Leo clubs in more than 140 countries worldwide.

1968: Establishing Our Foundation

Lions Clubs International Foundation assists Lions with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects. Through our Foundation, Lions meet the needs of their local and global communities.

1990: Launching SightFirst

Through SightFirst, Lions are restoring sight and preventing blindness on a global scale. Launched in 1990, Lions have raised more than $346 million for this initiative. SightFirst targets the major causes of blindness: cataract, trachoma, river blindness, childhood blindness, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Today: Extending Our Reach

Lions Clubs International extends our mission of service every day – in local communities, in all corners of the globe. The needs are great and our services broad, including sight, health, youth, elderly, the environment and disaster relief. Our international network has grown to include more than 200 countries and geographic areas.

Starting a New Club

Strengthening Communities in New Ways

You share our passion. You have ideas about how to improve your part of the world. And you know people who are willing to help. But there isn't a Lions club near you. Don't worry. That's exactly how many of our clubs get started.

Choosing a Club Format

While community-based clubs are our tradition, we realize that one size does not fit all. That's why we offer several club formats for you to choose from:

  • Traditional Lions clubs are ideal for bringing together a group of community-minded people to serve the needs of their community in any way – and can be formed anywhere.
  • New Century Lions clubs are designed for young adults who are age 35 or younger at the time of club formation, and offer flexibility to fit busy lifestyles. Members meet and volunteer as their schedules permit – and rely on Web resources to communicate and perform club administration.
  • Campus Lions clubs are designed for college and university students, administrators, faculty, alumni and other community-minded individuals. Members serve the campus community while developing valuable leadership and business skills.
  • Club branches enable a small group of people to form a Lions club and start making a difference in their community sooner. Members become part of an existing "parent" Lions club, but select their own projects and activities.

You can also start a new Lions club based on your interests or circumstances:

  • Perhaps you have a hobby you enjoy, a community project you'd like to work on or want to volunteer with business colleagues. If so, a Special Interest Lions clubcould be right for you.
  • Maybe you'd like to organize a club that includes members from distant geographic areas – or holds club meetings online for convenience. If so, a Cyber Lions club will help you organize a club through the Internet.
  • Or, you might prefer to work on projects that serve people with intellectual disabilities. If so, a Special Olympics Lions Club might be a good choice for you.

Whatever the case, we will help you start a Lions club that works best for you and your community.

Ordering a Club Formation Kit

If you would like to receive a new club formation kit, please contact our new clubs team. Be sure to include your name, mailing address, phone number and the type of club you're interested in.

Types of Memberships

Choose the Membership That's Right for You

Lions clubs are composed of diverse people in communities in nearly every corner of the world. That's why we offer several ways to become a Lion – and serve.

  • Regular Member. Are you interested in volunteering, community service and making our world a better place in which to live? Lions Clubs International (LCI) offers community members the opportunity to volunteer locally together as a group. Members are expected to meet membership requirements such as dues set by the club and LCI. Take the first step toward membership today – contact alocal club and ask to be invited to a meeting.
  • Family Membership. Looking for special programs and activities you can do with your family? A family membership allows relatives to volunteer together at a reduced dues rate. Family members must meet membership requirements, live in the same household and belong to the same club. Children cannot become members, but can participate in age-appropriate activities and attend club meetings. Tell the club you are joining you want to join as a family.
  • Student Member. Would you like to make new friends – and help others in your community at the same time? With a student membership, your dues are reduced. If you are enrolled in an educational institution and between the age of legal majority and 30, tell the club you are joining that you would like to take advantage of the Student Member Program dues discount.

For more membership information, contact our membership team.

How to Become a Member

Join an Existing Club – or Start a New One

Welcome! We're pleased that you're interested in Lions. To become a Lion, you must be of legal majority, good moral character and good reputation in your community.  

Membership is by invitation. If you're interested in being invited to join an existing Lions club:

  • Contact the club and express your interest.
  • Ask if you can attend a meeting to learn more about the club and its service projects.
  • At the meeting, ask about becoming a member.

If you can't find a club near you, start a new club with a group of friends or colleagues. Or fill out the Prospective Member Form, and we will forward your contact information to a club in your area.

For more information about becoming a Lion, contact our membership team.

Becoming a Lion

Join an International Network of Volunteers and Friends

Right now, Lions are improving communities around the world. We're meeting to plan a local project. We're sponsoring international exchanges for young people. We're bringing clean drinking water to a remote village. We're building. We're sharing. We're repairing. And we're having fun.

We have community clubs that meet in person. Cyber clubs that meet online. Andspecial interest clubs that can be based on your profession, a hobby or anything you care about. Each club matches the needs of its members to help them support their community – right now.

Lions Clubs Members

Lions are groups of service-minded men and women who are interested in improving their communities. We are young people, families and Baby Boomers alike. To become a Lion is to become an active volunteer, a member of a respected international organization, a leader in your community and a friend to people in need. Learn moreabout what we do.

There are many reasons to become a member. As a Lion, you'll:

  • Help your community and gain valuable skills
  • Make an impact on people's lives – locally and internationally
  • Learn to be a leader – and lead a respected organization
  • Network with business people in your community and around the world
  • Energize your life and have fun

You'll grow personally and professionally. And you'll know that what you do is worthwhile and appreciated.

Becoming a Member

Membership in a Lions club is by invitation.  It's also possible to start a new club.

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