Membership Growth Overview

Reprinted from Starting Point (Appendix II.B.5)

 

All League leaders have a role to play in building and sustaining a strong membership base. The membership chair and the membership committee may be responsible for implementing the League's day-to-day recruitment and retention activities, but their success depends on everyone's participation. The following tips for membership growth should become an integral part of the League work of each board member.

Goal Setting.

The goals and strategies of the board and the membership committee should be designed to:

  • Recruit and maintain a membership large enough and diverse enough to further the League's mission and carry out its program of work.
  • Attract a membership that reflects the diversity of the community.
  • Promote member understanding of LWV procedures and policies.
  • Give each member an opportunity to contribute individual talents to the work of the League in a way that is satisfying--while making sure that every member feels that involvement with the League, whether active or supporting, is essential to the LWV's strength and success.
  • Build members' pride in belonging to the League by sharing information about the League's impact and influence in the community and at the state and national levels.

 

Recruitment.

This requires perseverance and year-round attention. The reasons for joining the League are many, but the key is being seen as an organization that is making an important difference. Strong, visible program work (education and advocacy on issues that citizens care about) backed by meaningful community outreach and good public relations make an effective combination. All members, and especially all board members, must accept personal responsibility for membership growth. They should always be in a recruiting mode and ready to “make the ask.”

Orientation.

This is the follow-through to successful recruitment. Soon after they join, new members should be given an opportunity to learn more about the League's purpose and program and to think about the role they might play in the organization. Many Leagues schedule a special orientation session for new members where they can socialize with current leaders and other new members. Orientation can also be part of a general or unit meeting. Assigning an experienced League member to act as a mentor is another way to help orient the new member.

Member Involvement.

Each new member should receive a packet of introductory material including a membership directory, information about current program activities and an interest questionnaire. The completed questionnaire becomes part of the member's record and will be helpful in matching the member with activities and a level of involvement that are satisfying. All members' records should be updated periodically to reflect new interests. While League leaders would like to see all members participate actively, they recognize that some join to support the LWV and the work of others. These “checkbook members” must be made to feel welcomed and valued for contributing to the strength of the organization.

Retention.

This is as important a part of membership as recruiting new members. The key is making sure that the League is meeting a variety of needs. Make good use of your local newsletter to meet some of those needs. Include articles about critical issues for the members who join for information. Highlight League action (at all levels) for those who want to support an organization that makes a difference. Provide opportunities to get involved (action alerts, meeting notices, requests for help at special events) for those who want to be active. Follow up with phone calls to those who have indicated an interest in participating. Organize a phone tree; encourage car pooling; schedule social events. Ask board members to contact members who are late in paying their dues to encourage them to renew. If people drop their membership, ask them why they did not rejoin—and bring that information to the board for discussion.

Reprinted from Starting Point (Appendix II.B.5)