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Membership News
Membership News: Changing Public Perceptions

By Faith Quinlan, CT State Grange Membership Director

  April 1, 2019 --

This article is being written while I prepare my presentation for the Northeast Leaders Conference. I would like to share with you some of the ideas I will be presenting. I must say that when taking on this role as Membership Director my first ideas of how to gain members were huge and meant turning things upside down. I wanted to change the Grange to fit the business model of another organization that is successful at gaining members. Contemplating the changes and the costs and what it truly would mean for our current members I quickly realized it was not necessary. It is not necessary to change who we are. Yes, that does seem obvious now but as I grasped for simple solutions I quickly had to acknowledge this isn’t going to be simple. We need to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving forward.

We don’t need to change our organization, we need to change the perception people have of us. We need to make sure they know who we are. This is the first stage of our mission. I have plans in process that I will reveal in the next few months that will make this easier for us all to share why membership is for everyone. I know we need a huge influx of members and a pretty radical change in mindset to move ourselves into this new time in society. We live in a time that is busy and complicated plus we are fighting with so many others to gain time and attention from potential members. All that said I have to say what I really see being successful and simplest to implement is simply put: We want to focus on our strengths but change our approach. What are our strengths in today’s technical, fast-paced, overscheduled, over-stimulated world?

What do people in today’s society need that we may be able to provide? A welcoming and authentic place full of real people who share your interests or community concerns and offer friendship and support and sometimes resources to help in daily life. Is that really special these days? I believe it is.

I believe that because I have seen the statistics. The ones that strike me most are the ones that report huge increases in loneliness and feelings of isolation amongst younger people. This is an age group that is surrounded by people in school and at work. The number of people affected is higher than ever before amongst the 18-30 age groups. It is because they do not have nearly enough real or human contact. Facetime or video chat is not a substitute to sharing a meal with someone or sitting across a table and chatting about events and things going on in your neighborhood.

People today want to give back to the world, society and environment. My “old school” recommendation for this is they need to do some hands on work and meet real people. They do not get the good energy by sending money through a Go Fund Me page. They need the feeling of satisfaction that happens when members all sit down after a spaghetti dinner or strawberry festival and get to enjoy the fruits of their labor while discussing how busy it was or that funny thing that happened when the public was there. That cannot be done digitally. How can we get them to be a part of this?

Ask for volunteers. People to help set up and take down or who help collect things or serve food. Let your members help too but they should take more of a leadership role during the event. This is a chance to talk about who you are as a community Grange.

Sometimes the easier request is to ask for volunteers. It is less commitment than membership and makes someone feel good and ok that they don’t have all the answers. Volunteers can get so much from helping us and we should remember that sometimes people today, just like all Grangers, have the same need to be needed and appreciated. They will enjoy being helpful for a few hours, getting that great feeling of accomplishment and will receive support and welcoming new friends. You may turn a volunteer into a new member.

We have never had more tools with which to communicate but nothing can compete with a handshake or a pat on the back and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a tough day when the work is done. That is because as humans we crave true social interactions and the reminder we are alive.



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