Dear League Leaders,
What a great day...finally, the sun has started shining and everything has been blooming so beautifully. It revives and gives the promise of new beginnings.
The League also renews itself annually – with new leadership, new studies and new directions. Yay for Conventions! I hope to see many state delegates at our Council in June so we can get charged and recharged together!
I do know that Leagues are always asking about how to get new members. Here are a few areas to consider that may pinpoint challenges in your League.
Marcia A. Merrins
LWVUS Board of Directors
Trainings and Meetings Chair
Tip #1 - Don't be "other centered."
If you are finding it difficult to recruit and retain members to your League, ask why? What is it about your League that makes it unappealing?
We have a tendency to look externally for the reasons, ie. "Everyone is too busy" or "he/she needs to spend more with their family " which may be true. However, if you find these reasons used often, I would challenge you to take a look INTERNALLY as well.
Remember, people join motivated organizations. What makes up a motivated organization? Motivated organizations know what they want; they have goals, a vision, and an action plan. When is the last time you evaluated your League? Ask your current members to evaluate your League in the following areas to better understand where your are strong and where more attention needs to directed.
* Is our community a better place because the League has a presence?
* Internal communication and visibility.
* Growth and development opportunities.
* Member participation.
Tip #2 - Recruitment is an on-going process - It isn't something that you only do in the summer and fall. If you co-sponsor or collaborate on a program with another group or participate in a community service opportunity, that is a recruitment and image development opportunity. Use those opportunities to educate people about your League. All members should be prepared to answer the question, "tell me about the League, what do you do?" Can your current members do that and is the message consistent?
Just like companies - work to make your organizations name a house hold word. Remember also, lots of people are often members of more than one group so this effort may have positive recruitment affects. Don't miss the opportunity to "sell" your League.
Tip #3 - Make sure your group is worth the time to join
If I'm a new member, is there something I can do that can give me a sense of accomplishment? Is the only way to actually be "active" in your League is to be an officer?
A common complaint I hear from younger members is besides going to meetings there is nothing for general members to do unless you decide to stick with the organization and become an officer. Does that sound like fun to you? Empower your members, give them responsibility and the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. This not only will increase their confidence level but will also make them more experienced leaders in the future.
Tip #4 - Create a positive and welcoming environment
Know your members names; know your members needs; personal contact is key - email is great and it's easy but if you really want to keep your members and show that you value them - you must work toward more personal contact. Does your exec board know people's names? If you are saying there are just too many members then it is even more important to have personal contact. Members want to feel important and that they are appreciated. By knowing your members, it shows that you care and that this person matters to you regardless of the importance of their job.
Structure your meetings so everyone feels comfortable. When discussing issues or brainstorming allow for individual reflection and group discussion in order to accommodate the different processing styles of introverts and extroverts.
If the age of your members varies greatly, keep in mind that their needs will be very different and discuss how your League can work to meet those needs.
Lastly, create an environment where members are secure with sharing their opinion even when it differs from the leadership or with the majority opinion. Disagreements and conflicts if handled in a professional and respectful way make you stronger. Strive to have a very diverse membership base. Different perspectives, experiences, and life styles will make the League stronger as long as everyone is working toward the same vision and working toward accomplishing the same goals.
Tip #5 - Recruitment is not one person's job
Although one person may need to coordinate efforts, EVERYONE should be responsible for maintaining and sustaining membership. Your recruitment campaign should include specific techniques and tasks to be accomplished, a timeline, and an indication of who will be responsible for completing each task.