How do you keep in touch with your membership? Does your organization have a plan to let them know about meetings, projects, paying dues and other announcements? How do you attract new members and what do you do when someone new shows up at a meeting? You need a plan and members assigned to help carry it out.
If you’re looking for inspiration, start with your church. I have been pleasantly surprised at the welcome I have received at several churches I’ve visited while traveling. Even after learning I was just “passing through”, most went out of their way to make me feel welcome and to insure I was aware of all the services available to me – even for one visit. Contrast that with a genealogical society that was surprised when I asked for a newcomer’s guide. They couldn’t understand why I wanted to know about current projects (there were none) or a list of society resources. Although I submitted content for the quarterly newsletter, I never received any acknowledgement nor received even one copy of the newsletter.
Needless to say, I’m no longer associated with that society.
Many societies do have plans for welcoming new faces who show up at meetings, but what about those distant member prospects who contact you through the society’s web site? Does your newcomer’s guide include how to participate in the society from a distance? It doesn’t take much time or effort to save a PDF version of your newcomer’s guide and membership form and to create a standard welcome message that could be emailed to prospective distant members. Don’t forget to include a follow-up message as part of your membership management plan.
Does your plan end when a prospect becomes a member? Not at all. Get new local members involved in committees and events right away. Distant members don’t have the advantage of attending society meetings or getting involved in many local events and projects. Make sure to post articles describing speaker presentations and other events and try to develop projects which will allow distant members to participate in the society.
Thanks to simple technologies like email and web sites, your society can expand by including members outside the local area. It will take a bit of planning and some updates to your standard procedures to include them as functioning members, but the rewards for both the society and all its membership will be well worth the effort. Your membership is your strength. Make sure you’re doing everything possible to keep your organization strong.