Recruitment and retention are not the same thing. The trick is not just in finding new members but in keeping them. An organization needs to evaluate its development and create a plan unique to its membership. There are approximately thirty (30) active clubs and organizations at College of Western Idaho, each vying for the same student body to become its members. What will make your group different from the others? To be successful, an organization needs to have a clear purpose followed by a well-conceived and executed recruitment and retention plan.
Know and understand your organization. Have a meeting to discuss your purpose and goals and to make sure that the current activities and pro-grams support the purpose.
Set recruitment goals– include the number of new members, characteristics of members who will help the group succeed and how you will recruit them. Some questions you might ask are:
What type of time commitment should be expected?
What talents are missing that the organization currently needs?
Are there students from specific majors who will benefit from or add to the club/organization?
Know what attracts new members. In today’s “react fast or get left behind” society, club/organizations need to update their approach. Posters and flyers just won’t get it done. New members are easier to attract if:
The past leaders reflect a positive attitude toward the club/organization and have a general good feeling about their position.
The group appears organized and knows what it is doing.
They feel welcomed and see that support and encouragement are provided.
There is opportunity for them to learn and to get involved quickly.
It takes six times more energy and expense to recruit a new member than it does to retain one. This expense can be the financial cost of publicizing recruiting efforts or it can be the total member time needed to recruit new members instead of working on projects. Most people will stay motivated when they can take ownership for projects. Retention strategies include:
Have contact within one week of initial interest/sign up.
Hold a special welcoming event. Plan a social event with food, a special introduction or establish a ritual or tradition for new members.
Make the first meeting fun so they will want to come back! Recognize that some won’t come back because they will find other ways to become involved.
Orient your new members. Encourage old and new members to form bonds by using icebreakers and teambuilding activities; maybe hold a retreat.
Remember the new members’ names.
Get email addresses and phone numbers that are accurate and that the students use. Do not rely on a directory.
Follow through with emails, post goals, and summarize meeting outcomes.
Provide reminders of responsibilities. Answer the question, “what’s next?”
Show appreciation for your members both publicly and in private.
Have fun together! Know when it is time to work and time to play. No one wants to feel like involvement in an organization is a burden.