A New Member Orientation, an essential piece of the puzzle
By: Kathy Canzano
2010-2012 GFWC Membership Committee
GFWC Middle Atlantic Region representative
Congratulations! You have "Raked in New Members" and you have also had a "Flurry of New Members" recently join your club. That is great news! Don’t assume that your new members will automatically have the skills and experiences to fully participate in club meetings and activities.
Studies indicate that first and second year members are the most likely to drop their membership if they do not understand or feel a sense of ownership and pride in the organization. Clubs have a responsibility to offer an in-depth program that teaches new recruits their rights and responsibilities, and provides them with the tools necessary to be active, participating members. You want your new members to understand that they are "an Essential Piece" of the club’s membership.
It is time to plan a New Member Orientation. You can call it whatever you want to, an information session, an orientation, or a social evening gathering. Let’s say we are having a "new member social evening." Plan this as a special event for your new members. Send them an invitation. You can purchase invitations, create invitations on your computer and print them out, or you can send an e-invite. Be sure to take your potential members’ access to computers into consideration when you plan how you will invite them to this important gathering. Plan your event to include refreshments or even a light supper. Have the event start just after work or whenever is most convenient for the majority. It should last no longer than 2 hours.
This special event is the time to show these new recruits that they are "An Essential Piece" of your club. Building an orientation event around the "essential piece" is easy. For this you will be using puzzles and puzzle pieces. You can use puzzles from the dollar store as centerpieces. Make name tags with a puzzle piece attached and place cards also using a puzzle piece. Your agenda for the meeting can have a border of puzzle pieces around the paper to keep with the theme, and the ice breaker can use the puzzle to support the essential piece that each new member represents.
What should happen at a New Member Orientation? The event should be planned like a meeting with an agenda to keep on track. A gathering of new members, new members’ mentors/Federation sisters, and board members would be appropriate for this event. This is a time to get to know the new members and for the new members to get to know the current members in a smaller social group setting.
The meeting is used to welcome, acquaint, inform, motivate, and engage your new members. To illustrate how the club operates, each board member should be prepared to give a short overview of her job. The GFWC Membership DVD can be used at this time, at a follow-up event, or even given for private home viewing. The membership chairman should assemble and distribute informational packets covering all levels of GFWC so the new members can take this home and read at their leisure. GFWC is an organization with a long history and many facets to understand and you do not want to overwhelm them with too much information at once.
Plan to follow-up with the new members the following week to see if they have any questions and to find out how they want to participate on a committee or community service program. The sooner you are able to get the new members involved, the faster they will feel welcome and "at home" in their new club.
We have included a sample agenda and ice breaker, but for more samples and resources for retaining members please utilize the GFWC Membership Advancement Guide to ensure success. www.GFWC.org/ClubManual
A New Member Social Evening
"Who we are…and what we do"
Using a dollar store puzzle build the puzzle before you get to the event. Remove one piece for each new member to have at her place. Provide a list of questions on the agenda, have three questions listed that each person in attendance will answer, or write them on a separate piece of paper and have the questions at each place. For the ice breaker each member will answer three questions: what are your hobbies, tell us one thing we would be surprised to know about you or something we don’t know about you, and how did you find out about the club? Be creative in your questions but be sure to ask easy fun questions to get each member to tell you something about herself. After each new member tells her three things, ask each new member to add her "essential piece" to the puzzle. When each new member has finished adding her piece to the puzzle, the puzzle is complete. As a favor for the event, you could order small puzzle shaped pins as a memento that these new members are an essential piece. Include a membership kit or brochure highlighting club information at each place.
Brief History of the Club
Questions and Answers
Your event could also include an induction ceremony of each new member and give the gift of a GFWC membership pin as they are inducted into your club.
A Time for GFWC's Seasonal Recruitment Campaign
"Three New Members is a GREAT Reason to Recruit This Season"
GFWC is initiating a new, nationwide membership recruitment initiative, which builds upon the previous ACT in OCT campaign. Join GFWC clubs nationwide in our seasonal membership campaign: "Three New Members is a Great Reason to Recruit This Season."
There is a reason in every season to roll out the red carpet to invite and excite potential new members across the year. Each season will focus on a different theme:
“Rake in New Members”
“Flurry of Members”
“Warm Up with Members”
Recruiting members is a year-round process, and our new initiative reflects this. A club that recruits three new members each season will end the year with 12 new members. Plan creative membership recruitment campaigns and events around the many national awareness and commemoration months and days aligned with GFWC Community Service Programs (Arts, Conservation, Education, Home Life, International Outreach, and Public Issues), the GFWC Signature Project: Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention, and GFWC Juniors’ Special Project: Advocates for Children.
For more great ideas on recruiting and retaining GFWC members, and for a copy of the reporting guide, download the A Time for GFWC’s Seasonal Recruitment Campaign guide packet. For more information regarding GFWC Membership, please review the GFWC Membership Advancement Guide in the 2010-2012 GFWC Club Manual, available online at www.GFWC.org/ClubManual.
Clubs achieving and reporting three new members, as a result of their seasonal recruiting efforts will be recognized in the GFWC Clubwoman Magazine.
“Back to Basics – Federation Education” - September/October 2010
By: Lori Rocker
2010-2012 GFWC Membership Committee Member
GFWC Southeastern Region
As fall approaches, thoughts turn to children returning to school and the importance of the basics. In
elementary school, the three Rs – reading, ‘riting & ‘rithmetic are the focus and for college students the
101 classes help set the foundation for the course of study. In the working world, employees go
through an orientation on the basics of the company. In every aspect of our lives, our education begins
with the basics. Have you armed your fellow members with the Federation Basics? By ensuring our
members have a broad base of Federation education, we will strengthen our foundation. As you kickoff
your club year, it’s a great time to provide a refresher course on Federation 101.
What are the Federation Basics?
oProvide members a glimpse of the overall Federation picture by explaining each level of
the organization and how the levels inter-relate. Clubs have found that using a visual aid
assists in this explanation. Successful examples include a Federation family tree or a
oHighlight how members can become involved in each level by sharing information about
what occurs in the meetings and when the next meeting is being held. It is also
important to share the leadership opportunities afforded to members at each level.
oIf your club is privileged to be the home of an officer or appointee for a higher level of the
organization, share this with your club members and ask her to provide some insight on
the position she is holding.
•History & Key Accomplishments
oThroughout our history, GFWC has made significant impacts on the world. Choose a
few to share with your members and encourage them to find out more about what we
have done in the past.
oDid you know that GFWC is one of a few organizations who hold a charter from
oDid you know that the lines on our roads were created by a club woman?
o75% of public libraries in the United States were established by GFWC clubs!
oGFWC had a part in the passage of women’s right to vote, child labor regulations, more
recently the Violence Against Women Act and the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act.
oGFWC has raised funds to purchase an ambulance for the New York City Fire
Department after September 11th, 2001 and recently close to $60,000 was collected to
be contributed to the Haiti earthquake relief.
oToday’s members are writing the history of GFWC and are a part of GFWC’s future
oRemind members of the benefits of membership in Federation. Benefits exist from both
a club and individual member perspective. A few samples of the benefits of membership
are outlined. Ask members to share the benefits that they see from their participation in
“Back to Basics – Federation Education” - September/October 2010
oIndividual benefits range from the feeling of accomplishment for making a difference in
your community. Members can bring causes that are near and dear to their hearts to the
club for additional resources to help accomplish a project or fill a need. Federation is
like a family – the relationships that members form among their club and across clubs
and states are strong connections that add to the quality of life. Members can increase
leadership development through hands-on experience of participating in committees,
serving as an officer and working on the various projects and programs clubs have to
offer. Members also have access to formal leadership training through GFWC and State
Leadership Education and Development Seminars (LEADS).
oClub benefits include seeing the impact of their work multiply as their work is added to
the other clubs throughout the United States and world. What clubs believe is a ‘small’
impact in their home town, may result in multi-million impact once all clubs’ contributions
are considered. Clubs have access to specialized resources and program information
through the GFWC Club Manual and web site, as well as one copy, to the club
president, of the award winningGFWC Clubwoman Magazine.
Need help pulling together the basics? Here are a few resources:
•GFWC Web site
•GFWC Club Manual – Club Management section includes historical timeline – available in your
Club President’s mailbox
•GWC DVD – Covers GFWC History, Our Headquarters and Programs – It is available through
•State Federation history information – start with your State Yearbook or Web site
•District information – start with your District Handbook
•Your Leadership – Club, District, State, Region and/or International officers and chairmen
•Seasoned Club Members
There is no limit to the way or how often you can present the basics information. Make it interesting
and keep your members involved. Basics can be shared as a program, as a trivia game, or via your
newsletter a few tips at a time. Whatever method you choose, share the Federation Basics with your
members to increase the strength and success of our club. A chain is only as strong as its weakest
link. Start today to ensure that your club is a strong link in GFWC’s chain by educating your members
on the GFWC Basics.
The Federation Membership R’s
While you consider the start of the club year, do not forget the Federation Membership R’s
Your GFWC Membership Committee
We are here to serve you! Please let us know what we can do to assist your clubs, districts or State
Federations in any area of Membership. Names and contact information of region representatives are
listed in the GFWC Membership Advancement Guide on page 3.
What Do We Do With New Members?
Studies indicate that first- and second-year members are the most likely to drop out of membership organizations. Studies also show that new members are very enthusiastic soon after joining and their decision to remain with an association is typically made during this time. What does this tell us? Get members involved early!
Below are tips and ideas to consider that will assist you in new member retention and engagement within your club.
Focus on new members. Your clubneeds to let new members know that they are special and that their membership is appreciated.
Welcome each new member personally. This can be done by a phone call from a designated club member, mentor, or new member coordinator. It’s also useful if the caller can tell the new member what a good investment membership has been for them and congratulate the new member on making a great decision to join. This helps the new person feel more welcome and it validates membership.
Special recognition in club newsletter or website (everyone likes to see their name in print).
Present a membership certificate to hang up so people know they’ve joined. Provides a sense of belonging and recognition.
Contacting new members. Contact new members frequently, but without inundating them with too much information. Tell them from the start that they are special members and that over the next few months they will be receiving information. If they have any questions, provide them with a contact person to get answers. An example of what could be performed in addition to regular communication throughout the year includes:
Initial contact within the first 30 days of joining.
Contact them personally twice (why twice? Once is nice, but twice is impressive) within the first two months.
Send a mini-survey to members six months after they join to see how they rate your club’s service (i.e. six month report card). Questions could include: Is club meeting start time convenient? Is meeting frequency appropriate for our club? How can we improve our club? Club meetings?
Mentors and New Member Coordinators. To assist in contacting and welcoming new members to your club, consider establishing a mentor program. You may even wish to create a new position within your club that’s specifically aimed for new members, and this could be referred to a “New Member Coordinator.” Mentors and New Member Coordinators are very important since they’ll probably have the first contact with new and potential members. As presumed, both need to know the club well and like interacting with people.
New member orientation. Don’t assume new members will automatically have the skills and experience necessary to fully participate in club meetings or serve on the board. All new members—both young and old—should have the option to receive training or an orientation.
Utilize mentors or New Member Coordinators (if any).
Provide new members with a membership kit or brochure highlighting club information, opportunities for involvement and activities.
Provide new members with the history of the club, previous issues, past actions taken, and other useful information.
Orient new members to lingo that may be used at club meetings or by the board. New members may also not have previous experience with business meeting etiquette or procedures.
Be patient! New members may have a steep learning curve and will need time to adjust.
New member involvement. Research tells us two things: 1) people like to be asked to volunteer and be involved, so personally ask them, and 2) when individuals get involved in the activities of your organization, it is less likely that they will drop out because they view their involvement as an additional way to get a return on their dues investment. Be careful not to equate involvement with leadership. It is unlikely that all your members will be involved at that level, therefore think of involvement as participation in activities, as well as leadership in the club.
Invitation to meetings; encourage attendance. Just as with involvement, members like to be asked to attend meetings, particularly early in their membership. New members may need a bit of encouragement to attend a meeting or function since they’re not yet familiar with the club or its membership. Note: This may also be an effective recruitment tool. Extend to non-members or prospective members a special invitation to the next club meeting—come as the club’s guest. The theme…try us for free!
Give some form of appreciation to those who get involved.
Every time a person gets involved in your association someone needs to say, “Thank you!”
Recognition for involvement is an important factor in getting people to come back year after year and be involved again.
Personally acknowledging individuals during a club meeting is a great way to show appreciation, as is including their names in the club newsletter or website. (Not all seek public recognition, but everyone likes to at least be thanked for their efforts.)
Don’t wait until the end of the year to give awards and thanks to those who were involved.
Reason for joining? Try to identify as clearly as you can why people are joining. Keep track! Be sure to understand what benefits members want as they are joining and reinforce those benefits early in their first year of membership.
Develop an effective renewal process.
Prior to renewal, send a cover letter, an annual message from the president, or a list of recent accomplishments because it reminds members how their money has been spent during the previous year and suggest that the association can do this for members again next year if they renew.
If your club has any new services, programs, or features, introduce them before sending a renewal letter.
Offer incentives to those who help keep members.
Don’t give up on members who don’t renew membership. In the unfortunate even that a new member does not renew after the first or second year, try to find out exactly why. Consider asking them to rejoin, they just might surprise you. As previously discussed, sometimes people just want to be asked; don’t underestimate the power of personal outreach! If nothing else, the information gained can be used to better retain current and future members.
Finally, remember that all clubs, particularly ones involving new members, work best in an atmosphere of respect, communication, investment, and meaningful involvement.