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What Do We Do With New Members?

Studies indicate that first- and second-year members are the most likely to drop out of membership organizations. Studies also show that new members are very enthusiastic soon after joining and their decision to remain with an association is typically made during this time. What does this tell us? Get members involved early!

Below are tips and ideas to consider that will assist you in new member retention and engagement within your club.

Focus on new members. Your clubneeds to let new members know that they are special and that their membership is appreciated.

Contacting new members. Contact new members frequently, but without inundating them with too much information. Tell them from the start that they are special members and that over the next few months they will be receiving information. If they have any questions, provide them with a contact person to get answers. An example of what could be performed in addition to regular communication throughout the year includes:

Mentors and New Member Coordinators. To assist in contacting and welcoming new members to your club, consider establishing a mentor program. You may even wish to create a new position within your club that’s specifically aimed for new members, and this could be referred to a “New Member Coordinator.” Mentors and New Member Coordinators are very important since they’ll probably have the first contact with new and potential members. As presumed, both need to know the club well and like interacting with people.

New member involvement. Research tells us two things: 1) people like to be asked to volunteer and be involved, so personally ask them, and 2) when individuals get involved in the activities of your organization, it is less likely that they will drop out because they view their involvement as an additional way to get a return on their dues investment. Be careful not to equate involvement with leadership. It is unlikely that all your members will be involved at that level, therefore think of involvement as participation in activities, as well as leadership in the club.

Invitation to meetings; encourage attendance. Just as with involvement, members like to be asked to attend meetings, particularly early in their membership. New members may need a bit of encouragement to attend a meeting or function since they’re not yet familiar with the club or its membership. Note: This may also be an effective recruitment tool. Extend to non-members or prospective members a special invitation to the next club meeting—come as the club’s guest. The theme…try us for free!

Reason for joining? Try to identify as clearly as you can why people are joining. Keep track! Be sure to understand what benefits members want as they are joining and reinforce those benefits early in their first year of membership.

Develop an effective renewal process.

Don’t give up on members who don’t renew membership. In the unfortunate even that a new member does not renew after the first or second year, try to find out exactly why. Consider asking them to rejoin, they just might surprise you. As previously discussed, sometimes people just want to be asked; don’t underestimate the power of personal outreach! If nothing else, the information gained can be used to better retain current and future members.

Finally, remember that all clubs, particularly ones involving new members, work best in an atmosphere of respect, communication, investment, and meaningful involvement.

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