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Retaining Members

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Recruiting members is only the beginning. It is vitally important for you to communicate and motivate your Section members to keep them involved. You should have a clear plan and process for keeping members engaged.

People usually join an organization because they want to do something for their community. But they also want something out of being a member. You should find out what motivates your Section members and make sure they are kept active to stay motivated and involved. Members are usually motivated by:

  • Feeling that they are valued by the organization and making a contribution
  • Opportunities to learn new skills or get education about issues that interest them
  • Working on issues that will improve their lives or the lives of their families and communities
  • Feeling part of a team
  • Activities that entertain them or add to their social life
  • Rewards in terms of status, personal development, or access to employment opportunities

Here are some of the things you should do to keep members motivated and involved:

  • Send a thank you note to new members for joining. This could even be an e-mail message.
  • Develop a new member “Welcome Packet.” Include a personalized welcome letter, calendar of events, list of board members with their contact info, and your Section newsletter, if you have one.
  • Do an introductory induction workshop for all new members so that they understand the organization and its work.
  • List new members on your website.
  • Establish a member-mentoring plan. Assign each new member a current member as his or her mentor.
  • Welcome and introduce all new members at the beginning of each meeting.
  • At events, indicate “board member” or “new member” on nametags. Ask board members to get to know new members.Run regular education and development sessions for all members — either as part of regular meetings or in special workshops.
  • Encourage members to get involved in projects and campaigns.
  • Give people responsibilities and tasks and team them up with experienced members; they will feel useful and valued.
  • Thank people and praise them in meetings for work done.
  • Structure your meetings so that they are exciting and everyone gets a chance to participate.
  • Organize social events for members such as picnics, parties and outings.
  • Leaders should spend time talking with members and getting to know them.
  • Ask new members where their interests lie, and get them signed up on a committee as soon as possible. Once a person joins, it is very important to keep them engaged to find value in their membership.
  • Make an effort to communicate personally with new members at least four times during their first year.
  • Acknowledge members at milestones. Congratulate and thank them at 1, 5, 10, 25 membership year marks.
  • Communicate with members regularly. With Internet, e-mail and social media, inexpensive and easy ways exist to keep communication lines open.
  • Survey the membership regularly to gather feedback.
  • Publish names and contact information for board members to encourage members to contact them with any questions or concerns.
  • Keep an up-to-date calendar of events on your website and in your publications. Share it with others who can help promote events to non-members.
  • Institute a thank you column in your newsletter to recognize members for their leadership and involvement.
  • Don’t let your Section’s activities, meetings and conferences become stale. Periodically, try something new.
  • Become more community-minded and try organizing a charity event or effort. Members that might not be thrilled about attending “another meeting” might be excited to give back and have some fun in the meantime.
  • If charging for events, consider two-tiered pricing for members and non-members. By offering non-member event pricing equivalent to or more than the cost of annual membership plus the member rate, Sections can encourage membership..
  • Send inactive members a personalized “We Want You Back” letter.