It seems that recruiting is often the hot topic, for the obvious reason—everyone wants more members. But the real key to having a successful organization (whatever it may be), is in membership retention. When you know what you’re doing, recruiting new members is easy. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll never be able to recruit enough new members to offset the dropouts.
Keeping your existing members is all about engagement, and there are three keys to keeping members engaged:
- Weekly status call-
Simply make sure that every member gets a call each and every week. Keep the calls short, upbeat, and be sure to cover the following:
-Will they be coming to the next meeting?
-Inform them of the agenda for the next meeting.
-Let them know of anything they made need to do in preparation.
-If they missed the last meeting, give them the highlights of what they missed.
-Be sure to remind them of any general announcements they may have missed, or anything else of importance that they may need to be mindful of.
-Ask if they have any questions or concerns that you can help them with.
This call should be made by a peer, like a call between friends, very low key. It helps the membership retention of all parties, the ones being called, and the members doing the calling. It’s not about keeping them accountable, but rather more about making sure they understand that they are an important part of your organization, and that their attendance is meaningful.
Once someone has been a member for about three months, they should be comfortable enough with the organization to make the calls. You should keep the calls assigned to about seven a week, and have the same person making calls to the same seven people weekly.
The main benefits of status calls are; 1) to get verbal commitments for attending the next meeting, 2) know who is unable to attend and why, 3) discover concerns and questions that members may not share at an open meeting, 4) give the members calling a sense of purpose, and 4) membership retention.
- Give members something to do at the meetings-
It doesn’t have to be much, but any little thing that a member is fully capable of doing, will help them feel needed and tend to keep them staying active in your organization. Following is a list of some ways they can participate at meetings:
-greet members when they arrive
-introduce new members that they may have helped recruit
-serve cold drinks and snacks
-share a member experience that they benefited from
-help set up chairs for the meeting
-give a 2-3 minute testimonial of what being a member has meant to them
-have a part in the program
Be careful not to ask someone to do something that they are uncomfortable with, but they’ll usually let you know if that’s the case.
- Social outings-
Every 4-6 months plan a social outing of some kind. As best you can make it something that at least the majority will enjoy. Even at outings where some may not particularly enjoy the activities planned, e.g. a softball game, they can still enjoy the fun and fellowship of spending time around fellow members and observing the games. The following are just a few examples of possible group social outings:
-picnic at city or state park where they can play softball, badminton, horseshoes, etc.
-visit a local zoo or museum
-horseback trail ride
Be creative, seek ideas from members, and get as many members involved in the planning and participation as possible.
As you implement these three keys to keeping members engaged, you’ll see your membership retention go way up. This will have a direct impact on recruiting new members and volunteers as well, which will be the topic of our next article titled:
Recruiting Volunteers and Members is Easy
This post is part of our series: The Ultimate Online Guide to Recruiting Volunteers.
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