MEMBERSHIP IDEAS
January 2001

Author, Imogene Mecaskey, State Director

MEMBERS ARE IMPORTANT

Members are the most important part of any organization.

Without them, your table would have no corporate existence. Your meeting place would be empty, silent. Your leaders would stand alone, without the followers they must have if they are to carry out their duties, your Constitution and your Bylaws. All of your resolutions would be reduced to so many words, lacking the human factor that gives them life.

Members make an organization. If they are irresponsible, incompetent, unethical, unworthy, they can break the organization.

There are two kinds of members, new and old. Each has a definite place in the organization structure. Each has a particular contribution to make and each requires special handling.

HOW TO RECRUIT MEMBERS

Every community has its own membership potential. This should be carefully analyzed and explored by the Membership Chairman and her committee. Every angle should be thoroughly appraised.

  1. Consider first the relatives and friends of your present membership. Since they are already familiar with the aims and purposes of your table and know about the work you are doing, they are probably inclined to be sympathetic. These should be included in your very first canvass.
  2. Study the professional makeup of your table. If the Membership Committee prepares a listing of members by professions or business affiliations, it will reveal which community groups are not presently represented in your organization, and will suggest areas in which you may wish to become active.
  3. Survey the geographical setup of your community. Are all areas represented? What about the women in the newest real estate subdivision or the just-built garden apartments? Have you contacted all newcomers, interviewed those moving in and out of "changing " neighborhoods? A large wall map with some colored pins will bring to light sections where you may find recruiting profitable.
  4. Finally, there is the "younger generation". Recent college or university graduates, "just married" women, should be contacted, welcomed and invited to your next meeting. NEVER let age or youth become a barrier to membership.
  5. Have you considered changing your meeting hours? Would you get new members that would attend an evening meeting or a weekend meeting?
  6. Start a new Table " information" to accommodate new members and old members that have a life style change. Your Zone Director and your Area Director can help with starting a new table.

HANDLE WITH CARE

When Mrs. New has accepted your invitation and joined your group, she moves at once into another area, one calls that for special consideration. It is not enough to have her on your membership list and a check for dues in your table treasury. Now you must make sure that you have HER, too - that her interest not wane, that she continues to relate herself to the groupís activities and is not content to stand on the outside, a bored and apathetic spectator.

Make definite plans to orient ALL members - Mrs. New as well as Mrs. Oldtimer, Who frequently needs to have her own interest revitalized. This can be done at special meetings: a luncheon, a tea, an annual meeting, through interviews, or by means of a chatty and informative leaflet. It is wise to develop an Orientation Guide or Presentation, which will cover the following points.

  1. Purpose of your table
  2. How it is carried out - your program of work.
  3. History of the group: highlights of past accomplishments.
  4. Officers: how chosen, term of office.
  5. Current membership
  6. Finances - how your funds are raised and spent.
  7. What each member can do to promote the work of the Alliance.

PLACEMENT OF MEMBERS

To spark latent or flagging interest and to insure a continuing desire among member to participate in the table work, make sure you "place" your members strategically.

Failure to appoint a member to a committee on which she feels her services would make a valuable contribution can sometimes kill her interest and completely nullify her future effectiveness.

USE ALL YOUR MEMBERS. Jobs and assignments should be broken down and apportioned among several in the group, instead of being held tenaciously by two or three members. Donít perpetuate the same officers, directors, boards and committees. Make your table a democracy with equal opportunity for each member to be active - not a dynasty where only the same select few ever get a chance.

RETAINING AND REGAINING MEMBERS

New members must be made to feel wanted and needed as soon as possible. A welcoming letter from the Director is an effective way of making a new member feel welcomed.

It is extremely important to get new members active in Table activities immediately. Involvement creates interest.

Regular members who failed to renew their membership should be contacted, followed by personal phone calls if necessary. Let them know they have been missed. Regular members who have missed a meeting should also be called and told: "We missed you.." This should encourage them to return.

Members who have been active in the past might be persuaded to become active again with a personal telephone call or by being asked to do a specific job.

Perhaps if contacted, former members might like to rejoin.

Form an active telephone committee to remind members of meetings and arrange for transportation if needed.

Remember to give credit to committee chairman and members. A "thank you" is always appreciated.

Assign a hostess for each new member for a few meetings, so that she has someone to sit with.

Orientation meetings for prospective members and the new membership that has already joined are very important. In these meetings all the responsibilities and obligations of membership should be covered. It is only after complete explanation of the workings of your table that the new member will decide if this is what she wants to join. After realizing what her responsibility will be, you can be fairly sure that she will make a good working member when she does join.

Urge members to read the State and Alliance Bulletins. This will help them to know about Pan American Round Tables and its work; it will also help in leadership training.

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