Every member you retain is one less member you will need to find to reach your post membership goal.
In the American Legion publication Membership Team Training Guide, they define the 3 M's of retention. We have also identified the importance ignoring our members has on retention.
We can't do much about members reporting to the Great Commander at the Post Everlasting.
Project Stay Active follows members from department to department so we might transfer those who move or at least keep them renewed in their current post but follow-up is necessary to assist the member in keeping his/her membership current. (More information on Project Stay Active can be found in the District/County Commander's Guide)
This is where face-to-face contact is necessary. This is where the “rubber meets the road.” Who or what is the member upset with? The retention worker must find this out before anything can be resolved. Most “mad” problems can be resolved by discussion and working it out with parties concerned. We must try!
Mortality, Moved and Mad are true reasons why veterans leave the Legion, there is another powerful reason, Ignored.
In this video Kenneth Orrock, National Chairman, Membership & Post Activities Committee states,
To be ignored is just not fun. Especially when the only time our members hears from The American Legion is when it is time to pay annual dues.
It seems some posts are just waiting to see if their members will make an effort to become invoked, as the post waits, their members feel ignored. Ignoring members shows poor leadership. Post leaders should be making plans to reach out to all members on a routine basis inviting them to be involved in post functions. Members like to know what their post is doing, so communicate. Through your post newsletter, web site, Facebook page and meetings make sure you members know what is going on and who is involved. Members like to hear their names mentioned and they like to read their name in the context of the good things happening in the post.
It is much easier for a member who feels ignored to leave The American Legion. Members who feel like they belong because the post is paying attention to them are more likely to pay their dues.
There has been a decline in traditional membership renewals in recent years. Although this decline is measurable, it is not clear why this is taking place according to The American Legion. Maybe they have ignored the obvious reason.
Posts that stay more involved with its members by calling or visiting their members affords the Post the opportunity to “get in tune” with its members. When a post has a good idea of what members need, it is easier to serve their veterans and families.
Remember… A new American Legion member, as are all members, is a very important person. The new member has joined The American Legion with certain expectations of the Post, District, County, Department and National Organization. The new member may feel somewhat uncomfortable at first but a good post will assist the new member allowing him/her to build self confidence, get off to a good start and become involved as a valuable member of The American Legion team.
A few very workable ideas to Un-Ignore Legionnaires and in the process find more members willing to become active. Both results will make our Legion stronger.
A warm handshake, a smile and a simple statement of “Welcome to our Post.” goes a long way to make others feel welcome. Make everyone who visits your post feel welcome. Have a Welcome Team at all post meetings and functions. A good sincere welcome for guests and new members is a good Un-Ignore tool.
The Officer’s Guide states, “Initiation of new members is an important post function. They need to be shown, officially and formally, that they’re indeed a part of The American Legion. They deserve the courtesy of being introduced to the post that has accepted their membership applications and dues payments.”
People like to be on the Winning Team. Veterans mainly join The American Legion for comradeship, fun and social activities. When they join a post they have an expectation that they are joining a Winning Team. If their experience in the post verifies that it is a Winning Team it is easier for them to retain their membership.
Well run posts that offer quality Legion programs, find it easier to keep members. Training keeps a post running well. If you are not offering training in your post, consider doing so. Training starts with a well run initiation ceremony for new members. Effective training helps members better understand the mission of The American Legion.
Stay Active helps local posts maintain contact with members who move into your area. National Headquarters prints a summary of the veteran’s membership on a 3 x 5 card, including both new and old addresses, the member’s department, the post number, the number of continuous years, and the date the card was printed. If the member is a life member, it is noted. The card is printed in ZIP code order and mailed to department adjutants for distribution to the post most accessible to the member. This post is then asked to contact and welcome the member to the area. This is an ideal time to offer assistance and to invite the member to visit your post. In many cases, the Legionnaire may wish to transfer membership to a post in the community. As may be expected, some of these Legionnaires are involved in temporary moves, some may have a life membership “back home,” and others may have sentimental feelings toward their hometown post. However, many of them will be receptive to an offer to transfer to your post when asked. Departments actively participating in Project Stay Active usually distribute the cards each month through district or county commanders.