compiled by Ardis Bazyn
On Thursday afternoon during convention, the ACB membership committee held its annual membership seminar with the theme: “How Successful Chapters and Affiliates Recruit and Maintain Membership.” Our first panel addressed the popular topic, "What are successful strategies used to recruit newcomers?" Marlaina Lieberg, ACB’s second vice president, Burien, Wash.; Will Burley, vice president of Blind LGBT Pride International, Houston, Tex.; and Norman Culver, president of the Alabama Council of the Blind, Talladega, Ala., gave us insights.
Some of the suggestions given were:
- Publish events and meetings in newspapers, bulletin boards (online and stores), and relevant newsletters
- Share meeting and event announcements on public phone systems
- Create public service announcements
- Sending letters to colleges
- Visiting senior centers
- Getting contact info from visitors or outreach days
- Being social when riding paratransit or buses
- Have chapter challenge and give cash award
- Leave invitations and brochures at eye doctors’ offices
The second panel followed with "How to ‘wow’ your members to keep them involved!" Brian Charlson, president of Library Users of America, Watertown, Mass.; Cindy Van Winkle, president of the Washington Council of the Blind, Bremerton, Wash.; and Will Burley, vice president of Blind LGBT Pride International, Houston, Tex., relayed some tips. The list of ideas is below.
- Invite newer members to serve on a committee, assist with hospitality or welcoming
- Invite younger members to help with a Facebook or LinkedIn page
- Invite members to leadership seminars once they have been a member for a year
- Have interesting speakers or topics to interest participants
- Plan occasional social events
- Create interest groups, either in person or conference calls focusing on topics such as diabetes, books, technology, aging, etc.
After the presentations, the committee recognized the two affiliates with the largest growth. The highest percentage of growth award went to the American Council of the Blind of Colorado, which increased its membership by 82.6 percent. The award for the highest number of new members went to the California Council of the Blind for its 242 new members. Two hand-outs, "Reaching Out to Seniors with Vision Loss" and "Attracting Young People," were also disseminated. If you'd like a copy of these hand-outs, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If your affiliate has changed its membership committee chair, please contact the membership committee to add their e-mail address to the membership e-mail discussion list.