Compiled by: Ardis Bazyn, ACB Membership Chair
At our April ACB Membership “Focus” call, we had many participants- showing that this topic is of importance to most affiliates. Several themes were developed on the call on retaining members. The main ones were: helping members to feel needed and wanted, communicating with members, and finding ways to attract and retain members of all ages.
Most thought that members stay active if they are involved in the chapter or affiliate. It was suggested that members be requested to assist the chapter in some way, a small task at first. Some possibilities were:
- Handling the birthday list
- Monthly telephone calls to members
- Writing regular newsletter
- Plan social events
- Social fundraising
- Circulating profile of members
- Participating on committees
- Establish mentoring or buddy system
Another theme was the importance of communicating with members. Each chapter should have an updated membership roster that can be shared with members so they can keep in touch outside of the meeting itself. These rosters could include each member’s address, phone number, and email address. Each member could decide what information to share.
Many chapters have an email list where information can be circulated. It can either be an announcement list or one that allows members to email all on the list when they choose. A phone tree company can be used for leaving automatic phone messages for reminding members of meetings or special events. A couple of systems that could be used are: onecallnow.com or callingpost.com. Fees are based on the number of calls made and/or whether you pay for an unlimited plan for calls. Another system, Simplevoicebox.com, allows you to have a voice mail box that members can call to receive updated information and leave a message as well. A chapter could also choose to have communication partners that send a written notice to members before each meeting. After a member has missed one or two meetings, someone could be assigned to call those missing.
Another suggestion was to create an annual calendar listing monthly meetings, Christmas parties, and fundraising events. If events are arranged during the year, you might have to circulate new ones. Another idea was to record meetings for those unable to attend a regular meeting. FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are social networks that chapters and affiliates could use to keep people in touch with one another, as well as a way to reach younger members. More affiliates are trying to use these connections.
It is often hard to find ways to attract and retain members of all ages. A mentoring program for new members might keep members from leaving your chapter. Initially, a member could be assigned to act as a buddy to a new member. Often, it is the relationship-building that keeps people coming. One chapter has developed a Friendship network that helps members get to know each other. Each member is asked to submit a profile that can be used to introduce people of like interests to one another.
Some activities that might retain or draw members are: having a monthly 50/50 raffle, audio-described theater gatherings, casino night, 75th anniversary picnic, sporting events, leadership training, how to sessions, or an entrepreneurship round table. One chapter has a member who creates cute names to be used for the 50/50 raffle rather than numbered tickets: spring plants, holiday themes, or other like names (birds or trees).
Our quarterly ACB Membership “Focus” calls allow all of us to share our ideas with one another. Please urge your affiliate to have someone participate in our next focus call. If your affiliate has any membership related issue, please contact someone on the ACB Membership Committee.