Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt 2013-09-10 18:32:30
Just Ask, Then Involve Engaging New Members Is Part of the Recruitment Process In 2012, the Elk City Lions Club’s membership was dangerously dwindling. “The best way to describe it is that we were being backed into a corner to the point that we might lose our club,” says Lion Quenton Elliott. Facing this pivotal point, they rallied to invite new members to join and former members to rejoin. With eight new members joining in just a few months and more to follow, this Oklahoma club has made a complete turnaround. “We came out of that corner swinging,” says Elliott. The Elk City Lions came through in a pinch and welcomed several new members, revitalizing their club. But they knew strengthening their club went beyond numbers—they also had to help the new members feel a sense of belonging right off the bat. “The best way for everyone to feel welcomed and feel like part of the club was to get them involved quickly. In the past our club wasn’t always like that. People would join and then in a few months they would quit because they weren’t given enough of a chance to help out,” explains Elliott. As the Elk City Lions learned, getting new Lions involved is just as, if not more, important as gaining their membership. When new Lions feel valued and are able to contribute they will stay, so less time can be spent on recruiting and more time can be focused on serving. With the encouragement of their Lion mentors, the new Elk City Lions dove right in to take charge of or help out with activities that interested them. “One new member joined a committee to remodel a building that had been given to us on the grounds where we hold our rodeo. Another became head of a fundraising committee. One member took it upon himself to get our mobile health screening unit out—something we hadn’t done in years because we didn’t have enough members to run it,” says Elliott. Clubs should get a handle on the different talents and desired commitment levels of newbies as soon as they join. One way to get things off to a strong start is using the New Member Questionnaire in LCI’s new publication, “Just Ask! New Member Recruiting Guide for Clubs.” The questionnaire provides an easy way to ask new members about what they want to get out of being a Lion, skills they can offer and ideas for new service projects. The Sunnyside Lions in Washington also recognized the need to help new members become fully engaged. Lion Patricia Combs has given special attention to assist in finding the right fit for their skills and personalities. “One of our new members was quiet and didn’t want to have to be on the ‘front line’ or be in front of a crowd. So I introduced her to Leader Dogs and off she went with enthusiasm! Another new member was a nurse; I got her involved with our diabetes program,” says Combs. It’s up to clubs to create an experience for new members that will turn them into longtime Lions. Combs stresses, “If new members aren’t helped to take ownership of the club, then they will never feel they belong. They want tools to make a difference, a place to have fun among kind people, a way to exercise their talents and to be appreciated. The attitude of the club will determine its growth and the longevity of new members.”
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Recruiting+Members/1501752/174770/article.html.