Recruiting and Retaining Members

Submitted by Regina Whipple, National Membership Northwestern Division Chairman

In looking at the June comparison report, I am pleased to see there are four departments that have met or exceeded their membership numbers from the previous year. Kudos to the Departments of Arizona, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island for their successes.

Do you wonder what their secret is? I know I do. But I bet the members in each of these departments are out there asking and recruiting and working hard to provide their members with meaningful, mission-based opportunities to be involved in and feel they are contributing to the cause that brought them into our organization. Involvement = retention.

It is amazing to so many of us that from small towns to large cities, we find there are still people that have never heard of the American Legion Auxiliary. I just read an inquiry from a person in a small town that I used to live in asking if there were any service organizations that could serve a meal for a certain function/event that was happening. I wondered to myself if she even knew about the American Legion Auxiliary. We need to get out there and increase the exposure of our beautiful emblem by wearing our pins, badges, patches, or branded apparel to show everyone who we are and what organization we belong to.

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Maybe we need to go back to the basics. Work together with your American Legion post. Ask them for a list of their membership. Once you get that list, form a committee and go through the list and ask these basic questions:

  1. Does this Legionnaire have a wife, daughter, granddaughter, mother, or sister?
  2. Are there female Legionnaires that might be interested in also being involved with the Auxiliary?

Imagine if each Legionnaire had just one of his or her female relatives join the Auxiliary….we’d double our membership in a short time! Every time I read the obituaries and see that a person was a veteran, I wonder if they and their wives, sisters, daughters, or mothers knew about our great Legion Family.

Just as important as finding new members is improving their experience so we can keep them. They may be bursting with new ideas or different ways to do things. Listen to them. Too often a new member is told, “that is not how we do it here” or “we tried that and it didn’t work.” Statements such as these will turn an enthusiastic and valuable new member away.

After being a member for a year in my unit, my name was mentioned as a potential candidate for unit president, but some said, “oh, she is too new!” There are no rules or restrictions about how long a person has to be a member to serve in any position (even national level positions). Willingness and enthusiasm, along with some basic organizational skills, is all that is required for most unit leadership roles. I did become unit president my first year and shook things up a bit…and eventually went on to district, department, and national levels of our organization.

Let’s welcome and invite fresh new faces and ideas and be open to everyone that wants to be a part of our organization in whatever capacity they are capable of or interested in.

This was originally published as an eBulletin.

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