I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
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Keeping service clubs alive in these trying times
By Barry Schrader.................................August
Recently I was invited to address one of the Kiwanis clubs
in the county and found the members most attentive as I lectured
them on the decline of service clubs and how to fight back.
But I forgot to tell them to think outside the box
when it comes to big-time fund-raising. Even though selling peanuts
is a time-honored tradition among Kiwanians, and other service
groups have their annual fund-raising events, why not think about
raking in a million dollars instead of a thousand or two?
So I bring up the delicate subject of video poker,
something Illinois has approved for each county and municipality.
Why cant the Lions, Rotarians, Kiwanians and Exchangeites
band together and approach the County Board of Supervisors plus
the city and village officials about exclusive rights to operate
the video gaming machines throughout the county. They would then
control all placements. The Catholic Church has made millions
over the years with bingo, and it is also a form of gambling.
County Club Signs
Moving on from that controversial subject, here are some thoughts
that I shared with the Kiwanees. Service club memberships have
been on the decline nationwide over at least a decade and the
slide appears to be continuing as we face even tougher economic
times each year. I have belonged to six national service clubs
over the past 40 years and saw two of them dwindle to so few
members they lost their charters. The same is true for many fraternal
and lodge groups.
But service clubs are needed
in this country now more than ever. Their causes are just, their
community contributions tremendous and their willingness to help
their fellow man most commendable. Whether it be the Freedom
Shrines of the Exchange, the eyeglasses and helping the blind
efforts by the Lions, or the worldwide polio eradication campaign
of Rotary, they are all to be applauded.
is wrong? Well first, their dues are sometimes more than a person
can absorb and additional costs like weekly lunches and raffle
tickets, etc., add to the cash outlay for a member. Then there
is the matter of someone asking you to join. Looking around at
the service clubs I have visited locally, I find the average
age is not the national norm. If you count the number of members
over 65 and those between 30 and 40 in most clubs, the older
population wins hands down. Clubs need the young blood, those
able to physically work on projects and the enthusiasm to look
at new ways of doing things. Those of us in the older age bracket
have paid our dues with work and contributions over
many years and should be able to rest on our laurels. But if
we are the dominant age group in a club, who will come along
to take the load off our shoulders? The addition of women into
the national service clubs has saved some from folding, but even
the women find their time commitments limited due to their own
careers. The answer is simply more new members. If a club doesnt
grow by 10 to 20 percent a year, while normally losing 10 percent
to attrition, then it will continue falling behind.
tossed out a few more suggestions at the Kiwanians about blogs
and Facebook which they graciously absorbed. If any other service
club is willing to tackle the subject of their relevance and
future, give me a call. But I will expect a small percentage
of your video poker profits ...
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115