Are you involved with a great club, group, charity or organization you really feel passionate about? Would you like to recruit additional new members or supporters?
This may sound easy on the surface, but it can be quite a challenge.
The past decade has seen steady and significant decreases in various types of group membership, from churches to civic clubs to professional organizations.
One possible reason is a generational change in how people choose to connect, with younger people preferring online or social media connections instead of formal, in-person membership groups.
Also, with many competing demands for work, family and leisure activities, extra time for voluntary groups or clubs is often very difficult, if not nearly impossible to fit in.
I’ve been involved in membership recruitment efforts with a professional association for over a decade. After trying various strategies over the years, it’s been interesting to see what works and what doesn’t.
Here are 11 effective recruitment strategies we have used which you can consider the next time you’re trying to drum up new members or supporters for your favorite group or cause.
1) Create a membership network
Find a handful of your most ardent supporters and ask them to head up your membership recruitment efforts. This core group will develop and oversee your recruitment plan. Then find the natural connectors in your group, the folks who seem to know just about everybody. Appoint them as “ambassadors” to help get the word out about your group’s terrific programs and services.
2) Research your target audience
Do your best to figure out who your potential members are. Some groups target prospective members by occupation, geographical location, special interests or other personal characteristics. Take advantage of any available data such as mailing lists, online directories or other public information to identify possible members.
3) Look for contact opportunities
Try to determine how and where to easily contact potential members, either online, through snail mail or best of all, in person. Some great in-person options can include organizational and community events, educational conferences, trade shows or local festivals. Then make a specific plan for outreach and recruitment, with dates, methods of contact, and the specific information you want to share about your organization.
4) Make it personal
Whenever possible, contact potential members directly, meaning by phone or in person, so you have a chance to talk with them about membership. Extend a personal invitation to join your group and make sure to smile!
5) Describe specific benefits
After inviting them to join, begin to describe some of the specific benefits they will find appealing. Whether they admit it or not, they’re thinking “What’s in it for me?” Talk about well-known advantages of joining the group, whether it’s personal satisfaction for supporting a worthy cause, gaining valuable information to further one’s career, or meeting new friends or colleagues.
6) Tailor it to the individual
Mention one or two benefits that could be particularly meaningful to the potential member. For example, if it’s a young professional, talk about networking opportunities and ways to expand their business connections. If the person has some special areas of interest, emphasize how the group provides focused activities in those areas. Provide contact information if they would like to speak with someone that knows more about a particular program or service in the organization.
7) Sprinkle in some fun with the facts
Some people make decisions from a rational viewpoint, while others are more feeling-based. As you talk about the group’s benefits, don’t forget to mention some of the enjoyable social and relationship-building aspects of membership along with all of the impressive facts and figures about member programs and services. Talk with enthusiasm about some of the personal benefits you have derived from being a member.
8) Everyone likes resources
Most great organizations offer lots of free member-only resources. People love these, as they feel they are getting insider information not available to the general public. Make sure to mention some of the specific resources, and give the potential member a sample resource to whet their appetite.
9) Remove barriers
Make it easy for the new member to join the group. Point them to an online page for signing up or offer to have someone from the group call them to help them with their enrollment. If there are dues, offer various payment methods (credit card, automatic bank transfer) and payment plans (e.g., affordable monthly installments). Many groups will also offer a new member discount.
10) Follow up
Certainly not everyone you approach will sign up to be a member the first time you contact them. Wait a little while and then check in to see if they have any questions about the group or would like further information. Make sure they know they can contact you at any time if questions arise.
11) Send a thank you
After each contact with a potential member, remember to thank them for their time. If they do decide to join your group, be sure to follow-up with another word of appreciation. Again, do this in person if at all possible. Or, as one of my dear colleagues so often reminds me, a handwritten thank you note sent in the mail is definitely memorable, since you almost never see one of these any more.
Hopefully these tips will help you attract new members and supporters to your favorite group or cause. Give them a try, and good luck!
Here’s a question: What strategies have you found effective in recruiting new members to your group or organization? Please leave a comment. Also, please subscribe to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!