Recruiting members is the most critical component to organization success. The following suggestions will help make your organization’s recruitment efforts more successful.
Know and Understand Your Organization
- Ensure leaders and members know the organization’s goals and objectives.
- Conduct 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 it?
- 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?
Set Recruitment Goals
After identifying the type of people you want in your organization, set some recruitment goals.
- How many new members can your organization reasonably assimilate into the group? Will you allow people to join at any time or only during a pre-designated recruitment period? Will you hold a mass meeting or is membership by invitation only?
- 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 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 were not, how did you hear about the organization? Why did you stay involved?
Get Everyone Involved
Have your current members identify people they know want to get involved. Personally invite them to attend a meeting. Word-of-mouth is the best and least expensive type of publicity you can use.
- Talk about your organization. Tell people what you have to offer them. Ask them about themselvesand really listen.
- Sell your organization and the benefits of membership. Show how the organization can benefit someone like them. Personalize the message to each potential member, and let them know how their talents, skills, and interests would help the organization.
Designing an Advertising Campaign Using Visual Elements
Recruitment campaigns need to have a visual element. Have those members with artistic talents work on your posters, flyers, banners, and bulletin boards. Be creative. Get the publicity up early enough because it is only effective if it is noticed.
Plan a Special Welcome Meeting
Many organizations find it beneficial to have a meeting or ceremony to welcome new members. Group participation in some form during the official membership process is one way to make your members feel wanted, needed, and appreciated.
Hold an Orientation for New Members
Developing and conducting an organizational recruitment campaign is important. Yet, as we know, retaining these new members is another matter entirely.
Train your new members. All too frequently, organizations skip any form of orientation and just place new members directly on committees or organizational projects.
Teach them about your organization. Although involvement is crucial to the longevity of the group, understanding the organization and its goals and objectives, structure, norms, and taboos is equally as important. By taking the time to orient new members to the privileges and responsibilities of membership, you create a more educated membershippeople who can and will make significant contributions to the organization.
Elements of a successful orientation program include:
o Rights and responsibilities of members
o Organization governance and operation policies and procedures
o Organization history, traditions, and programs
o Assimilation of new members into the organization
o An overview of campus services, activities, and programs for Registered Student Organizations
o Information about support groups or affiliations an organization may have
Recruitment Quick Tips
Remember personal contact is always better than 1,000 flyers and newspaper advertisements. 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.
Schedule to make a brief introduction of the organization at each meeting.
Co-sponsor campus events so students recognize the organization’s name. Be sure to have information about your organization at each event.
Ask key people to give recommendations of possible members and leaders.
Do not expect a person to come to a meeting in a room full of people they do not know. Offer to meet the student somewhere and go to the meeting together. Then, personally introduce the person to others in the organization.
Attend New Student Festival and Student Organization Recruitment Drive.
Feed potential members. College students are attracted to free food.
Recruit people by interests. If there are people interested in an issue, recruit them to head up a program on that issue.
Involve students who have expressed an interest in the organization and give them a meaningful task.
Go out of your way to make new members feel like players right away.
Go door to door in the residence halls, talk to students about the organization, and invite them to attend an event.
Get exclusive rights to a cool “members only” job for the organization.
Hold meetings and events in comfortable, visible, hospitable places.
Make a list of advantages of being a member. This includes 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 scrapbook for prospective members to see.
When recruiting members, always think in terms of “what’s in it for them.”
Conduct an informational meeting.
Print business cards for your members to carry. Be sure to have a place for members to write his/her own name and number, but the card should also say: “Open meetings! Please come!”
Information from University of Nebraska Student Organization Advisor Guide, 6/2011