When it comes to membership presentations, GFWC Missouri State Membership Chairman Lisa Cook isn’t afraid to don an apron to present an unforgettable “recipe for membership” skit. Described by fellow clubwomen as “enthusiastic about membership,” Lisa offers reliable advice for clubs struggling to recruit and retain members, in funny and memorable ways. Lisa spreads her excitement for membership at State and district meetings, and in GFWC Missouri Clubwoman articles. Her advice on the best ways to get and keep members? Recruit a member 10 years younger than you, don’t underestimate the power of simply asking someone to join, and make members’ GFWC experience fun and worthwhile.
What inspires your unique presentations and GFWC Missouri Clubwoman articles?
When I attend State, district, and club meetings, the craziest things inspire me. A few years ago, I attended a fall district meeting in Mexico, Mo., where a woman presented a program on aprons. I incorporated this theme into a “recipe for membership” skit that I presented at the 2010 GFWC Missouri State Convention. In the skit, I presented several “ingredients” for successful recruiting. The ingredients included talking about GFWC; inviting potential members to a fun event (such as a winery trip or brunch), or volunteer service event; publicizing your club in the community through newspapers, community calendars, local events, bulletin boards, libraries, and stores; looking for empty nesters and recently retired women in your community; providing babysitting services; and asking former members if they might re-join.
My drive comes from learning new things and meeting new people. I truly enjoy attending State and district meetings, and making a difference in members’ lives by teaching them something new.
What kind of reaction did you get when, at the 2011 GFWC Missouri district conventions, you encouraged members to invite guests 10 years younger than them to club meetings?
I received some laughs from the audience. However, many members falsely think that women won’t join their club because their members are too old. But from what I’ve seen, a member is more likely to recruit a woman 10 years younger than her, rather than a woman her age. You have to start somewhere. When I first joined the GFWC Golden Study Club, most members were my mother’s or grandmother’s age. Slowly, we started recruiting younger members. Now, our club’s youngest member is 30 years old.
What accomplishments are you most proud of during your tenure as GFWC Missouri State Membership Chairman?
At the 2011 Mississipi Valley Region Conference, GFWC Missouri won a membership award for having the largest membership increase in the Region. This is the second year we’ve received the award, and I believe our success is due to our positive momentum. GFWC Missouri State President Carolyn Lovelace has so much excitement for GFWC, which is passed on to our members. My goal has been to carry on that passion with positive messages and upbeat presentations.
You have tremendous enthusiasm for membership. Where does that come from? What keeps you motivated?
My drive comes from learning new things and meeting new people. I truly enjoy attending State and district meetings, and making a difference in members’ lives by teaching them something new. I am also motivated by the work that we, as GFWC members, do in our communities.
What can club leaders do to retain members?
Club leaders should appoint members to positions they enjoy, and play to members’ strengths. I recommend surveying members at the change of each administration on their interests and strengths. This will help you determine which members are best suited for certain leadership positions. Also, understand that club members can get burned out with too many programs and activities, especially ones they don’t enjoy. As club president of GFWC Golden Study Club, I recognized that our club was getting into somewhat of a rut, so we purchased a plot of land where we all worked to grow vegetables. We donated the vegetables to local shut-ins, nearby families, and club members who could not garden. Our members really enjoyed this activity, so it was just what we needed to get everyone excited about the club again.
Mary Ellen Brock
A clubwoman for 40 years, GFWC International President Mary Ellen Brock has served on all positions of the Executive Committee, GFWC New Jersey Legislation/Resolutions Committee member, GFWC New Jersey Past State President’s Club President, and North Jersey Women’s Club Treasurer.
Success For Survivors Scholarship
Each year, GFWC awards scholarships to help intimate partner abuse survivors obtain a post-secondary education that offers a chance to reshape their future by securing employment and gaining personal independence.
The Rochester Junior Women's Club
The Rochester Junior Women’s Club (Michigan) was established in 1956 with 16 members, and today has over 70 members that always come together to support one another. The club chooses three or four major charities to support and several smaller ones, donating approximately $30,000 each year. In total since its inception, the club has provided more than 1 million hours of community service, and raised more than $928,000 to support their community!