Recruiting New Members

Recruitment and Retention are the responsibility of every member of your organization! Every member must be involved in the planning and implementation of a recruitment and retention campaign.

New members are the key to growth in any student organization and by learning key tricks for recruiting the new members you want, you will continue to ensure the membership success of your organization.

The beginning of the fall and the spring semesters are great times to hold larger recruiting events, because there are many students who are considering which groups they want to join.

However, your group members should recognize that ANY time is the right time to find new members or help potential members experience the positive benefits your group offers.  This provides potential members and current group members a chance to meet and become familiar with each other.

Brainstorm to Find New Members
Brainstorm with your members about where potential new members might be found, be sure to look in these locations:

  • In your classes, the residence halls, or college park
  • In lines (i.e. the Commons or CX)
  • In the library (don’t forget to whisper!)
  • In other organizations, at campus events, or playing intramurals
  • At work (on campus or off-campus jobs)
  • New members are everywhere that your current members are, keep your eyes open for the members you want

Know and Understand Your Organization
It is important that both the leadership and the membership know what the organization goals and objectives are.

  • Have an organizational meeting to discuss goals and objectives. Are your goals still accurate? Is it time to update them? Where do you plan for the organization to be in six months? A year?
  • Decide on a direction to take. During this “organizational housekeeping” process, a certain theme or direction should become clear. What is this?
  • Develop a membership profile. What type of people do you need to help the group succeed? Who would you like to have join? Who would complement your current membership?

Plan to Recruit New Members
Planning is the most important part of your recruitment process. With a good plan, you can get everything done that you need to, find the right people to get involved, and make a difference in your organizations membership numbers.

  • Select Recruitment Chair and Committee. This is a good idea because it distributes the workload, but make sure one person is ultimately responsible.
  • Train Current Members: Train your members on organizational information and history so they are able to clearly communicate the group’s purpose.
  • Provide Incentives: Provide incentives to members to bring new members into meetings (commissions, prizes, recognition, etc.).
  • Gather Recommendations: Identify your new members (start with current members).
      • Where do they live?
      • Where do they go for fun?
      • What do they do with their leisure time?
      • What is their major or career goal?
  • Target Audience Needs: Determine and serve the new members’ needs.
      • What do current members get out of the organization?
      • What do the potential members hope to gain?
      • What skills will the group provide the new members? What skills do the new members hope to learn?
  • Review Benefits of Involvement: What are the benefits of being involved and how will it impact the potential members?
      • Summarize the product information, benefits, and services of the organization.
      • Show how a volunteer position in your organization will meet their needs.
      • Talk about the skills they will learn which will help them after college in their chosen career.

Set Recruitment Goals
Now that you know the type of people you are interested in recruiting, the next step is to set some recruitment goals. The goal should include the total number of new members you want to attract, the number of potential members each current member is responsible for contacting, and a timeline complete with a list of who is responsible for what.

  • Know Target Audience: Keep your membership profile in mind. When designing your recruitment strategy, ask yourself what places do these prospective members most likely frequent? Do they have special interests? What kind of publicity would attract their attention?
  • Remember Your Involvement: Remember what made you get involved. Probably the most important step in designing a recruitment strategy is for you to think back to when you first became involved. What attracted you? How were you recruited? If you weren’t, how did you hear about the group? Why have you stayed involved?

Communicating With Potential Members
The new members of your organization will become your friends and many will become the new leaders of the organization. It is important to follow the successful model for communication to ensure you will be able to effectively introduce the potential member to your organization at the right time and with the right information about how involvement in the student organization will benefit the potential member and the group.

  • Meet Them: When speaking to a potential member, say whatever you would say to potential new friends. Get to know them as an individual first.
  • Be Their Friend: Making a new friend is an easy process that sometimes takes a little time.  By spending time with the potential member, you are continuing to build the foundation for a friendship.
  • Introduce Them to Your Friends: As you continue to get to know this person, ask questions to find out what their interests are so you can help them get to know others that have similar interests.
  • Introduce Them to Your Organization: After you’ve had a chance to get to know the potential member, tell him or her highlights about your group--how it has helped its members. Tell them how the organization can benefit someone like them. Personalize the message to each potential member. Let them know how their talents, skills, and interests would help the organization.
  • Ask Them to Join Your Organization: New members want to know that they will be valued as members. By offering an invitation to join the organization, you have personalized the experience for the potential member. Your involvement will help to ensure this member joins and stays involved in the organization.

Recruitment and Training
Recruitment and training are not separate processes. Training begins in the recruitment program and is a continuous process in the development of volunteers. The trick is not just attracting new members, but keeping them. Retaining members is done through proper training and recognition. An organization needs to evaluate its development and create a plan unique to its membership.

Recruitment Plan
Your recruitment plans should focus on the present and future trends of students. Rapid change and technology have made us a “react-fast or get left behind” society. Organizations are just like companies, competing for smaller numbers of students who have less free time to volunteer. Student groups that are organized and running efficiently will get the new recruits. New members are easier to attract if:

  • The past leaders reflect a positive attitude toward the organization and have a general good feeling about their position.
  • The group appears organized and knows what it is doing.
  • New members feel welcomed and see that support and encouragement is fostered.
  • There is opportunity for new members to learn and grow.

Developing a truly effective recruitment campaign requires completely changing your way of thinking about marketing your organization. Today’s student is no longer inspired by traditional brochures scattered with static group portraits and long lists of the benefits of joining your organization. Exposure to movie special effects and computer graphics has made this approach boring. Advertising efforts need to become more creative.

Before beginning an exploration of how to market your organization, however, it will be necessary for you to begin thinking of your organization as a product and students as your customers or prospects. Every student on campus is bombarded with opportunities to get involved or join a group. Your organization is competing with clubs, sports, class projects, and countless other activities available to college students. What do you have to offer the potential member that is different from the others? In order to assess your group’s campus image, ask yourself these questions:

What is your current membership status? Where do your leaders come from? What do current members get out of the organization? Are the current leaders being utilized right now? What are you selling? Do the constitution and bylaws reflect the group’s direction? What do you have to offer? Do promotional materials reflect the organization’s image? Why do members volunteer? How does the past leadership feel about what they have done?

Once you have defined your image, learn to sell it! Direct contact with the potential customer is always best. Word of Mouth is probably the best medium. If your group is excited, it will be contagious and others will become interested. If you follow a few simple steps and allow yourself enough time to properly promote your organization, recruitment can be easy and fun.

Reaching Potential Members
There are many ways to reach potential members through publicity and personal interaction.  By working with key individuals and resources, you can find the most effective avenue to reach the members you want to have in your organization.

  • Posters and fliers around campus: outside on kiosks or inside on bulletin boards. (Follow the posting guidelines available in this manual)
  • Current members promoting the organization to classmates by word of mouth
  • Ads in the Drury Mirror
  • Teacher announcements in class. (These work especially well for academic organizations and honor societies.)
  • Plan activities to attract potential members
  • Host or attend social, service, and sporting events.
  • Any event your group does could also be a recruitment event--just invite new people!

Successful Recruitment Suggestions
Remember that a personal contact is always the best recruiting tool of any student organization.  People join organizations because they like the people they find there. Nothing can replace the simple act of getting to know someone and asking them to join the organization.

  • Ask key people to give recommendations of possible members and leaders. These recommendations can come from current members, RACA staff, orientation leaders, other student groups and faculty/staff.
  • Don’t expect a person to come to a meeting in a room full of people he/she doesn’t know. Offer to meet the student somewhere and go to the meeting together. Then make sure you personally introduce that person to others in the group.
  • Feed potential members. College students are attracted to free food.
  • Recruit people by relating to what interests them. There are people very interested in one issue, you can recruit them to head up a program on that issue.
  • When someone has expressed an interest in getting involved to any degree in your organization, immediately get them involved and give them a meaningful task to do.
  • Go out of your way to make new members or potential members feel like important and essential members right away.
  • Get exclusive rights to a really cool “members only” job for the organization.
  • Hold meetings and events in comfortable, visible, easy-to-come-to places.
  • Make a list of all of the advantages of being a member. This could include public speaking opportunities, or any number of other things. Use this list of advantages as your major selling points for new members.
  • Always take photos at meetings and events, then put together a facebook photo album for prospective members to see.
  • When working to recruit members, always try to think in terms of “what’s in it for them.”
  • Have an informational meeting.
  • Rent a video camera and make your own recruitment video. Its ok if it’s amateur and sloppy, just make it funny! Show your group members at an event. Show a few minutes of a typical meeting. Show your members hanging out, playing cards. Whatever! The more hilarious, the better.
  • Print up business cards for your members to carry. Be sure to have a place for members to write his/her own name and number.