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How can my club have a successful membership drive?

Apr 18, 2011

by: Roy Heeden
Lead Area Director

One of the great things about spending more than 23 years as a Kiwanis volunteer is that I have had firsthand experience with different ways of doing things. I’ve been on my club’s membership committee several times over the years and have tried a variety of ways to find new members. Last year I decided it was time to do the thing that experienced Kiwanians can also do; copy a program someone else put together.

I followed the process Carl Van Dorn (long-time Indiana TAG team membership growth chairman) put together. The membership committee divvied up the duties and kicked off the program six weeks before the scheduled date. We collected names at the club meeting, invited nearly 80 people, had Past International President Don Canaday as our main speaker and the day went great. Our club of 41 members had 20 guests and added six new members that day.

This year I am in a different capacity as an employee of Kiwanis International and Lead Area Director in the Growth and Education Department. One of the best things about being in my position is that I now have the whole Kiwanis world to copy great programs from. I came across a ten-step program that was put together by past governor Patrick Ewing from the Pacific Northwest District. The form was organized from Patrick’s work by Area Director Stephanie Ursini. (Check out her live webinar, May is Membership Month for more information) The process is eerily similar to Carl Van Dorn’s work with a few additions. The process from start to Guest Day is identical:

  1. Get your own members to jog their brains (and smart phones) to find the right prospects for your club. 
  2. Invite them. 
  3. Have a great program. 
  4. Sign them up.

This year we followed the same guidelines for the event and had 26 guests. One thing we did differently was to have it on St. Patrick’s Day, which created a fun theme. This also gave us a fun reason to invite people to visit.

St. Patrick's Day Celebration

Where the real success will be is in the follow-up (steps 8 and 9). Last year we simply inducted the six new members in to our club during the next meeting and thought we had done a great job. Unfortunately, when it came time for the new members to pay their annual dues six months after joining our club; we lost four of them. We hadn’t given them what they thought they were getting.

The big change this year is that we invited each of the prospective members to new member orientation sessions during each of the next two weeks after the program. We have 10 signed new members, each of which went through orientation and are aware of more of the specifics of membership in our club and Kiwanis as a whole. We are going to assign a mentor/buddy to each one to make sure they: 

  1. Immediately get involved in one of our upcoming service projects 
  2. Act as greeter during an upcoming meeting
  3. Go on an interclub and 
  4. Get on a committee.

During orientation we’ve gotten to know the varied experience and service desires of the 10 new fired-up members. We’re looking forward to the energy they will bring as they enliven our club and our community.

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