Membership Development and Retention

Why should we as Scouters, be concerned about membership?


Membership Committee Purpose

The Membership Committee creates and implements programs to build a membership. The Membership Committee is charged with the responsibility of

1) attracting new members,
2) retaining existing members and
3) welcoming/contacting new members.

Because of this responsibility, those of you on Membership Committees should be vitally concerned with all Groups activities. Attractive, interesting, and well planned meetings do much to hold your members and to attract new ones. Membership activity must persist throughout the Scouting year.

In general, the duties of the Membership Committee should include:

• Conscientiously seek new members.
• Develop member prospect lists.
• Follow-up with "lapsed" members.
• Contact youth/adults who have inquired about membership.
• Greet and make welcome new members.
• Be prepared at all times with current membership applications.
• Cooperate with Area/District membership activities.
• Prepare and staff a membership display before and after special events.


Depending upon the size of the District/Region, the Membership Committee should consist of a Chair and at least three committee members. Also, every member of the District/Region should be available to help the Membership Committee.

Whenever possible, the Membership Committee should be free to carry out their mandate and to conduct membership drives. There is no substitute for personal membership contacts.

It is also recommended that specific aspects of responsibility be assigned to a specific committee person(s). Main areas of responsibility should be:

1. Recruiting new Individual members
2. Starting new groups/sections
3. Youth/adult member recruiting and retention
4. Group retention

The committee should meet often, particularly before and early in the Scouting year. The purpose of these meetings is to:

1. Establish specific objectives (e.g., how many new members to add each month; during the year)
2. Create membership plans
3. Build prospect lists from school rosters
4. Assign responsibilities

Subsequent meetings are devoted to monitoring progress, revising plans and adjusting goals and assignments.


By June 30:
Select Committee Members
Schedule 1st meeting for mid-July

At Mid-July Meeting:
Assign specific committee responsibilities
Schedule 2nd meeting for mid-August
Provide relevant information to Committee Members

At Mid-August Meeting:
Get progress reports from each Committee Member
Follow-up on lagging activities
Committee ready for action by September 1
Schedule subsequent committee meetings at least once per quarter

By May 31 or whenever scheduled by your District/Region
Prepare year-end report to District/Region Executive Committee


Membership Committee Chair - is the MANAGER of the District/Region Membership effort. The Chair must build a team, assign responsibilities, and oversee their follow through. The Chair is the key to the successful Chapter Membership program. The effectiveness in recruiting capable and enthusiastic committee members and directing their efforts will ensure success.

Recruiting Membership Committee Members - Take great care in selecting this team. The success of the membership effort and of the entire District/Region, could, over time be dependent upon the effectiveness of these individuals. Donนt select people that are already busy and overloaded.

Assigning Responsibilities - once selected, the Chair should assign responsibilities to each member of the Committee. For Committee members to be effective, they must have a clear understanding of their role and what is specifically expected of them. Each person must also be aware of how this contribution fits into the whole membership effort, and resources that are available to use. It is the Chair's responsibility to clearly inform committee members on such matters.

Performance Follow-up - total membership effort is the responsibility of the Committee Chair; this requires follow-up with committee members periodically to assure that their activities are proceeding according to plan. If certain activities are not proceeding, it is the Chair's responsibility to see that progress is made. The Chair can encourage the responsible committee member to get on with the work, or replace the person with a new appointment.

Committee Meetings - the Committee Chair schedules, organizes, and chairs meetings of the Membership Committee at least once a month during the year, and at any other times deemed necessary to the committee members, to coordinate their efforts, and to obtain periodic progress reports on the various responsibility areas.

A meeting as soon as possible after the formation of the Committee is necessary to assign and define responsibilities and plan the membership effort for the year ahead. This meeting should be held during the summer months so that the Committee is ready for action by September 1. Other meetings can be held as necessary for following-up on activities.


A prospect list is basic to all membership activities. Actually, a membership promotion program cannot be planned without some knowledge of who the prospective members are! Building and maintaining the prospect file is a continuous process in the membership development program. "Prospects" are simply youth/adults who should be members but are not. Know your neighbourhood.

Former Members - Studies on former members indicate that half of them could return to the Group at a later date. These are good prospects and should be included in your prospect file.

Membership Recommendations - Referrals from Group members are excellent prospects. Referrals can be solicited from the Group membership at meetings, by phone, or by sending a letter to members asking them to provide the membership committee with referrals. Provincial offers awards in the way of Growth pennants.

List Maintenance - Once a prospect list is developed, it is necessary to use the list in a well-planned membership promotion effort.


"Why Should I Join?" The key to success of a membership program is to answer the question "Why should I join?" The whole membership challenge boils down to ONE fundamental:

Scouting has one compelling reason why belonging yields substantial benefits to its members - FUN


Personal Contact - The most effective approach to a prospective leader is by a visit to the person's office, home, etc; inviting and accompanying them to a Group meeting; inviting and accompanying them to some other Group/Section event.

Bringing prospects to Section meetings is the surest way to sign them up as members. It works well for several reasons, one of which is the opportunity it gives the visitor to see what kind of folks belong, how they conduct themselves, and what they accomplish by attending. They will be especially influenced, for better or worse, by the members' reactions to them. Here are some ways to ensure a successful result:

A. Don't just invite your prospect: take the time to present Scouting. Tell them what the meeting is all about. Increase their anticipation by sending them the program.

B. Follow-up: show them you look forward to having them along. After you invite them, get in touch with them and remind them of the meetings/events.

C. Bring others into the act, so the person won't come "cold" to the meeting. Tell the other Scouters ahead of time, spelling out who the prospect is and why you think they should be a member. Tell the Membership Chair too, and the Reception Committee Chair, if one is in place.

D. After the meeting, keep involved. Ask for the application before the glow wears off. Then continue the sponsor relationship until your prot้g้ has become involved with the Group.


Only one thing is more important than getting new members, and that is keeping them. Once a member joins the Group, there is no assurance that the initial spark of interest will continue unabated.

All programs and activities of your Section and the Group naturally have a bearing on maintaining your membership. The Membership Committees primary job is to help build and maintain the best possible membership, and that includes keeping the member. Your retention program must be an integral part of your Groups total membership effort.

It should be an on-going policy to find out why a membership lapsed. A phone call or letter may clear up a misunderstanding and save a membership. If there are legitimate grounds for complaint, corrections can be made. Even if the membership cannot be retained, a phone call or letter may soothe bad feelings. This information must also be used to expand or create new programs to serve members needs.

The most effective tool for member retention is an active program.

• Why are our youth leaving the movement?. "The number one reason youth leave Scouting is that they get tired of going to dull, boring, unplanned troop meetings week after week."
• One of the most important aspects of building and keeping an active group is to retain the members you already have. "If you don't lose it, you've got it."

The following are eight keys to Group membership retention:

• Offer a good, solid, well planned program that is interesting, informative, and fun. Have a well planned meeting. Don't plan more than you can do well.
• Know what interests your youth. Build your program around their real interests which could be recorded on an interest form from you Group start-up kit.
• Place a high priority on converting new members into Brotherhood members.
• Get all of your Scouters and senior youth involved in leadership roles by assigning them specific duties.
• Get into the habit of using the telephone for reminders of any kind, events, personal communication, problem solving, and follow-ups on why the youth missing from the meeting didnนt show.
• Define your goals and plans. Write them down and prioritize them for action. Complete each project before going on to something new.
• Success depends on staying power. The lack of perseverance is the reason most people fail in attaining their goals. Persistence is the gold mine of success.
• Get your Group to serve the real needs and concerns of your sections and district.

No matter what you do, what position you occupy, always give it your best effort. You are worth your best effort.


A follow-up phone call or visit to the delinquent member by the Membership Committee representative at this point will be very effective in retaining the member. If the member seems inclined not to renew their membership, it is important to uncover the reason. The response may suggest a problem area where corrective action is possible. The response will at least provide the Section and/or the Group with valuable input for improvement.


A new member's first impression of the Group is an important one and will often determine whether he/she becomes an active or passive member or, in some cases, renews their membership. A new member expects member services to be started quickly and also to be welcomed into the Section as soon as possible.

If these expectations are not fulfilled, the member's first impression of the Group is a negative one, and we have either lost a member or at least lost their enthusiasm and active involvement.


An important step in processing the application is to thank the new member for joining and taking the time out of their busy schedule to help with the youth of the community. A congratulatory and welcoming letter addressed to the new member over the name of the Chair, Secretary or Membership Chair should be sent to a new member as soon as the Group becomes aware of their status.

Invite the new member to the next Group Committee meeting. If possible, accompany them to the meeting yourself, or have another leader be the companion.

Reproduced for by permission of Scouter Douglas Moore - Nova Scotia