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Membership News
Membership Moment: Membership Retention

By Faith Quinlan, CT State Grange Membership Director

  DECEMBER 15, 2018 --

My mission is to help grow membership and help current members to increase Grange membership in Connecticut.  As we grow our membership it is important that we also consider how do we retain these new friends?  and make them feel welcome and excited to be a part of our Grange family?

When a new member joins a Grange, they often join for a reason that is important to them.  One of the quickest ways to be sure you know how to help them and get them off on the right foot is to ask what motivated them to join.  Their answer could be about community or leadership, about making new friends or maybe one of your charity or fundraising events is close to their heart.  Too often we try to teach first and then get to know the member later.  The good intentions are there but we are postponing getting them to what got them excited to join in the first place. The teaching can be overwhelming and too much in the beginning, some may say frightening depending on the approach.  Getting to know the member first and on the path that brought them to join in the first place is a great way to lead new members while keeping them interested in staying a member.  

A great mindset to adopt is to be glad that they chose to join your Grange.  That may be easy for some and a stretch for others.  As we often see, people are not always happy about new comers,  maybe we are threatened.  Some members may not don’t like people they don’t know.  But Grangers can find their openness and receive new people with glad hearts. New members are not perfect people, they may be nervous or maybe have strong personalities, or seem too (young, old, wealthy, poor, talkative or shy).  Open your mind and give them a chance,  rather than asking how these new people will fit in or “pull their own weight”  will be answered in time.  We may want to cut them some slack for a few meeting and events.  We want to have “Do’ers” and Leaders so invite them to participate, early on. Also be generous in your patience and assistance.

A person’s first Grange meeting can be stressful because they may not know anyone there and they don’t know the written and unwritten rules but they also have a desire to do well and fit in.

Show them with your words and actions that they’re wanted and make their first meetings a nice experience.  The first interactions a member has are a crucial time and that is why welcoming new people does actually pay off. Studies show that new members who have undergone a successful orientation process are more likely to still be in the organization after a few years and they reach their full membership potential even faster.   The alternative for new members who are not warmly welcomed and guided is a desire not to return.  They feel that the organization doesn’t meet the expectations created during the recruiting conversations and that will make them less committed, less satisfied and more likely to leave the organization.

I will discuss Mentoring more next month, but simply put, It is welcoming and important that there is a mentor, someone assigned to guide a new member,  to greet new members with a smile and a handshake when they arrive. To introduce the new member formally and informally, here should be time set aside for meeting the other members.   The mentor can talk the new member through the meeting and answer questions.  When the meeting ends they are able to follow up with the new member and share contact information.  Before the next meeting they might contact that member to be sure they are aware there is a meeting and time and again available to answer questions ofr offer assistance and guidance.  The time the mentor invests in the new member will pay off when over several months that person may bring in their own family and friends or maybe they just volunteer at events and actively participate.

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