I have had the pleasure of speaking for a number of local chapters for different associations. Some that come to mind are the National Speakers Association, The Northeast Precast Concrete Association, and the National Association of Professional Organizers. If you mash these three together you get an organizer who speaks and sells concrete! 🙂
The most common theme I see, hear, and get asked questions about is how do we recruit and retain members. The simple answer is Care. However, that is easier said than done. The following is a process I recommend any chapter of any association or organization adopt immediately. It’s proven to be very effective. To understand why it works so well, you need to understand the root problem and what your members are looking for.
Member/Prospective Member Desires:
The majority of members or prospective members are looking for a place that they feel welcomed, encouraged, and supported. They are looking for “member value”. However, that member value often comes in relationships.
Lack of attention from the organization or chapter members to the current member or prospective member. These folks feel that they are just a number, rather than a person. Prospective members are often looking at different organizations that will stand out to them. So as my friend Bruce Turkel says, make it All About Them!
Pay more attention. Implement the process below immediately and you will start to see changes in your chapter.
- Establish a lead person to implement the process and see it through
- Collect Visitor information for all visitors attending chapter meetings
- Send thank you cards:
- Three people will send thank you cards to each visitor.
- They include the person that invited the visitor and 2 other volunteers.
- You will need to approach the volunteers quietly.
- Each person should write the card BEFORE they leave the meeting and give the card to the person running the meeting.
- Each card should be written to include one sentence that references a conversation. We don’t want someone thanking the visitor if they never had a conversation with them as the visitor won’t recall who they were.
All cards need to be mailed within 24 hours of the meeting. These cards must be handwritten, (non-automated) thank you cards. Please don’t use a 3rd party service to thank your visitors. It will not have the same impact and it will feel like a process to the person receiving the cards.
Don’t include any future meeting information or membership information in this card. Simply thank them for attending.
Sending Cards to Members:
Quietly approach two additional members and ask them if they had a meaningful conversation with anyone at the meeting that day. If they respond Yes, ask them to complete a card thanking the other member for their insight and conversation. Then the chapter administrator or in charge person will send that card out as well.
Per meeting, you should be sending out two cards to existing members and three cards for every visitor that attends.
If you do this you will show your current members and your prospective members that you care about them. That, in turn, will show them that your chapter is a caring, safe and supportive place for them to be aligned with and commit their time to.