Membership Recruiting for Volunteer Organizations

June 8, 2011 by  Filed under: Marketing 

From time to time every organization needs to add new blood to its membership ranks. Existing members scale back their participation due to business obligations, they move away, others lose interest, and a few, who are life-time members, will pass away. The following suggestions for recruiting new members are basic selling ideas that can be useful for almost every volunteer group.

  • Open House Meetings are regular meetings for the public and allow guests to see what goes on at a meeting. Organization leaders should make sure that guests are welcomed and given copies of any agenda or program. If possible, serve some refreshments or offer beverages, such as coffee or tea. (Keep in mind that confidential information should not be discussed at public meetings; this type of information should be held for the next closed meeting.)
  • Membership Levels are a great way to reach different types of people, such as students, individuals, families, or businesses. Each level can have a small fee associated with it, and the fee can be used to support various activities. Depending on the level, the member can receive a benefit, such as free admission to an event, bumper sticker, new member’s guide, etc. If there is a web site, allow people to sign up over the Internet.
  • Membership Newsletters keep the entire organization up-to-date on current activities. While designed for the existing members, have extra copies on hand for visitors who come to the public meeting. If there is a web site, publish the most current edition and allow visitors to download it via the Internet.
  • Brochures can tell the organization’s story: its founding, mission, events, and how the activities help the community. Part of the brochure can be an application form that can be filled out and sent to the membership chairman. Tri-fold brochure templates can be found in most word processing software or on the Internet.
  • Mailing lists can be used to contact members and non-members about special events. At public events use an Attendance Book (or sign-up sheet) to collect names and email addresses. Non-members can be put on a special public email list, which can be used as a recruitment tool. Periodically use the list to send a special event notice and extend an invitation to join the group.
  • Fund Raisers are great events for raising money for the worthy causes. This is an ideal time to extend a personal invitation to non-members. The event leader should always thank the audience for supporting the event and use that speaking opportunity to invite interested people to join. Existing members should be available to talk one-on-one to interested people and answer questions or distribute the brochure and newsletter.
  • Referrals from existing members are a good source of new members. Since the interested person may be a friend or neighbor of an existing member, the organization should not delay on any referral. There is nothing worse than waiting 2-3 months to hear from the membership chairman about joining the organization.

While there are many ways to reach out to prospective members, there is only one way to be successful and that is to invite people to join. An invitation makes the prospective member feel welcome by the current membership, and it is more likely to result in a “yes” instead of “let me think about it” or just plain “no” answer.

Copyright 2011, Alice Dusenberry

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