April 3, 2012

The Spark.

The Spark: Recruiting Members to Your Organization – Recruit 365 Days a Year (Part Two)

Welcome to The Spark - a tidbit of wisdom to stimulate ideas and help you transform your student organization. The Spark is a bi-weekly resource provided through the Center for Student Involvement which is sent to all registered officers through PantherSync.

We get a lot of questions regarding how to meet potential organization members on campus. This is Part Two in a multi-part series on membership recruitment.

Recruit all the time. The groups that are the most successful focus on recruitment throughout the year, not just during a set period of time. While you may designate times where you focus on membership drives, your members should always be out on campus, meeting people and sharing information about your organization. Don't limit your potential to grow. If you meet someone in October who is interested and would love to join but happened to miss the September membership drive, why would you make them wait until the next drive in February to join? They may lose interest or join something else in those four months.

Develop a recruitment mindset. Instill in your fellow members that you are always representing the organization. Each interaction your members have could lead to a positive or negative impression of your organization. Those informal conversations over the lunch hour with classmates could lead to a prospective member. Your participation at an on campus event could reflect positively on the organization and attract new members to your group. You could be in a position to give your elevator pitch at any point. Be ready.

Share the responsibility of recruitment with all members. We often elect an officer or assign a committee within the organization to take charge of membership recruitment. While they may be responsible for coordinating and marketing recruitment events, each member should share the responsibility for bringing new members into the organization. Find ways to involve both your most experienced and newest members in the recruitment process.

Get referrals. As you look to move past tabling and posters, one of the most effective tools you can utilize to recruit new members is a referral process. Spend time developing a list of individuals whom you trust to identify others who meet your membership criteria and identify with the mission or purpose of your organization. These could be faculty/staff members, community partners, alumni/ae, etc. Meet with them and ask them if they would be willing to provide names for any students that they think could be a good fit. Provide them with some information on your group that they could pass on to interested students. Check in with them throughout the semester and maintain a positive relationship.

Maintain a list of prospective members. Keep a running list of all of the students whom you have reached out to regarding joining your organization. Make note of when you are going to follow up with them, and which member will be their main point of contact. While they may not be ready to join after your first conversation or after attending their first meeting/event, if you continue to build a friendship, they may join down the road. Remember: people join people, not organizations.

Does your organization need some help to resuscitate its recruitment strategies? Schedule a recruitment workshop with the Center for Student Involvement Staff. To make a training request, visit www.activities.uwm.edu and click on Organization Training and complete the Training Request for Registered Student Organization form. You can also access this form in PantherSync through the "Forms" tool. Consultations may also be requested by emailing activities@uwm.edu or calling 414-229-5780.