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10 Ways to Improve Membership

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It's a universal, normal, natural question:  How do we improve our Chapter's membership?  How do we encourage new members to join us?  How do we motivate our current members to keep their commitment to remaining active members?  No one is alone in this!  Whether your Chapter is large or small, active or struggling, there is always room for improvement.  These ideas are meant to be used as a guideline.  If you've tried some of these ideas in the past and they weren't effective, there's no reason why they can't be tried again.  New times have different effects on people.  So, what may not have worked then, could work now.  You won't know until you try it! 

Some basic thoughts to remember when it comes to membership are:

  • People look at a situation and think "What's in it for me?"
  • Everyone wants to feel that they have contributed to the betterment of someone in need
  • Belonging to a group where creative thinking is welcomed and encouraged, is inspirational, and
  • Know your audience.  Think about what types of events or programs your prospective members might be interested in which could encompass the diverse interests of the multi-generational group of women who comprise our parishes. 

These Top 10 ideas are just the beginning of what you can do to create a more fruitful, Christian spirit, within your membership audience:

  1. Create good will through Public Relations: In February, celebrate "Heart Health Red Dress Sunday" by distributing red carnations, or red ribbons with a card stating that this gesture is ‘compliments of your Philoptochos Chapter' to all the women attending Liturgy.  Do the same in October for "Breast Cancer Awareness Sunday" using a pink theme.  Giving back to the community without soliciting donations from them can have a meaningful impact.
  2. Encourage new members to join by showing them what they have to gain by becoming a member (they'll think ‘what's in it for me?'):  For example, general meetings that include demonstrations on learning something new about computer skills, floral arranging, cooking demonstrations with a renowned or local chef, current event topics, health issues, a fashion consultant, decorating inspirations, or an art form like calligraphy, will create curiosity and motivate attendance.  Remember, put yourself in their shoes.  Ask yourself "why would I want to come to a meeting, and possibly join this group?"
  3. Sponsor Mother-Daughter (or, Daughter-In-Law) events:  Making it a family affair promotes continuity through generations of Philoptochos women.  Often, companionship with family members outside the typical family setting brings a new dimension to that relationship. Offering a one year free membership to a new bride, or, giving the gift of an Icon of your Chapter's patron saint to a new mother at the occasion of her child's 40 day blessing, are wonderful ways to welcome these women into your community, and Chapter.
  4. Organize exciting excursions for members, such as theatre trips (check schedules of local colleges and theatre troops), sightseeing tours, or concerts:  Ask your members what types of outings they would like to attend.  Group rates and providing transportation are prime factors when it comes to group excursions.
  5. Make the first general meeting of the year a unique experience:  Offer a complimentary dinner prepared by the Board members and served with a special décor and theme.  A free event is something no one would want to miss.
  6. Promote the importance of how the existing membership can use their experience to mentor someone new who will be working on one of your programs for the first time:  A mentor is someone with experience who oversees a task, without overshadowing the other person, and that waits to be asked for their opinion or guidance.  Having the freedom to express and share their ideas is a very exciting way to initiate a new member.  No one wants to hear "we've never done it that way, and we're just going to stay with what works for us".  Instead, wouldn't it be great to hear "we've never done it that way, but why not give it a try".  Remember, no new idea is a bad one - it's simply new territory to be explored.
  7. Explore the possibility of working together with other groups within your community on a cooperative project, such as creating gift baskets for women's shelters, quilts for cancer patients, or gathering recipes for a cookbook:  Sisterhood and cooperation for the purpose of philanthropy can only broaden the manpower and scope of your efforts.  Also, explore the possibility of working together with another Philoptochos Chapter on a cooperative project.  Don't look at groups outside your Chapter as the competition - we're all sisters in Christ. 
  8. Varying the times and places for your Board and General meetings can bring new life to something that has become predictable:  Sharing Saturday brunch, meeting at a local café for coffee and dessert, gathering at a Board member's home, conducting a meeting while children are attending Greek Language School, are just a few ways to create diversity and interest. 
  9. Offer a free membership to a computer-savvy parishioner that can create more powerful flyers for your events:  Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.  Headlines need to catch your audience's attention and encourage them to be involved.  A headline has to capture their interest and make them look forward to finding out the details as they read on.  Break away from the same old, tired flyers and invitations.  Why not try making the name or title of the event a really powerful headline that everyone will notice.  You can always add your Chapter's name below the headline.  And, don't forget to add where the proceeds of your efforts will be directed to.  People love to know exactly for what purpose their donation will be used. 
  10. Report the successful outcome of your efforts to your community:  People are always interested to hear of your accomplishments, especially ones that they have contributed to.  You would never find ‘Oprah' keeping silent about her successes, especially when it comes to her philanthropic efforts! 

Remember.....adapt these ideas in conjunction with the fundraising and membership examples that were previously sent, to fit into the structure of your Chapter.  We hope we've inspired some thoughts that will motivate you to explore some new possibilities to improve your membership.  As Einstein once said, "If at first an idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it."

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