Retention Efforts

Get a Jump-Start on the New Membership Year Through Retention Efforts

August is a great time to start planning for membership recruitment. Inevitably the question "How many new members?" is always followed by "How many dropped?" What’s the solution? The best solution is often a simple one: Stay in touch with your members. Adopt the philosophy Call a Member, Keep a Member.

The concept of membership is built on relationships. No matter what offers Scouting make or gimmicks that they provide, the best solution to building membership is establishing rapport. Connect with members with the mailing of newsletters or renewal forms, and truly follow up with members who offer to volunteer for Scouting activities. The key to building relationships is in listening and talking with members often. Recruitment reaps short-term rewards, while retention is a long-term strategy that requires considerable attention. In the long run, however, emphasizing retention is the wisest investment. For growth to occur, two new members must be recruited to replace one lost member.

Members may decide not to renew their membership for a number of reasons. An effective strategy for identifying those reasons is to call members and ask them why they are not renewing. Instead of being evasive, take a direct approach, for example, "Hi, my name is _________, and I am calling from the ___________ group/district/region. We are concerned that you indicated you are not returning". At this point, it is crucial to allow the member to express concerns. You will then be in a position to determine what action you can take to convince the member of the value of staying involved.

In some cases, members just need that little extra push, but unless you act you’ll never know. If a member does decide not to renew, your group/district/region may want to use a questionnaire to collect information from the individual. The questionnaire provides a means of examining and responding to reasons why members decide not to continue their membership, and it is a useful tool for planning your groups/districts/regions future activities and programs. Maximizing retention requires treating each member as an individual. When members are retained, growth occurs with each new recruit.

Reproduced for by permission of Scouter Douglas Moore - Nova Scotia