Compiled by Ardis Bazyn

The membership seminar at the convention was well attended. Attendees discussed two topics: how involving special-interest affiliates could increase your state affiliate membership, and fund-raising as a membership tool. We also talked about coloring pages for restaurants to give to kids. Those topics are available on the ACB web site as separate links.

A panel of special-interest affiliate leaders presented the topic of how involving their affiliates could increase state affiliate membership. The leaders explained the benefits of their affiliates and gave the audience the opportunity to understand how involving their members might draw more members into a state affiliate. The membership committee prepared a hand-out listing all the special-interest affiliates and an explanation of who might wish to be a member of each, their benefits and communications (newsletters, web sites, listservs), as well as the contact information for their current president.

When your state affiliate holds its conventions, your convention committee should consider asking members in your state who are members of special-interest affiliates to participate. You might ask them to plan a presentation relating to their affiliate or offer them a time slot for a break-out session. In this way, both special-interest affiliates and state affiliates can benefit. If you have more people attending your conventions, you will earn more in fund-raising and participation fees.

State affiliates should also consider placing information about special-interest affiliates in their newsletters. Your editor could take the information about special-interest affiliates from the link on this topic off the ACB web site, and cover a couple of them in each issue. Or the editor could contact the president of a special-interest affiliate and ask for an article about them.

The second topic was fund-raising as a membership tool. The following is a list of ideas expressed.

- Getting sponsorships for your convention or special events will save money for your members and your affiliate

-Get discounted tickets for audio-described plays or movies for members

-Get donations of food, transportation coupons, and gifts for your convention or monthly meetings

-Negotiate with your convention hotel to get a gift certificate for one free night

-Have auctions with lots of items of interest to members, family, and friends: gathering gift certificates and auction items from community businesses provides an opportunity to get known in your area

-Give the person who gets the most donations a prize

- Invite family and friends to fund-raisers such as Stanley, Mary Kay, Avon, Cookie Lee jewelry, or Tupperware parties

-For fundraising events longer than four hours, provide food and transportation coupons to members

-Have a braille T-shirt contest; the person with the catchiest slogan wins a prize

-Get discounted or free golf instruction for members

-Get free or discounted bowling games for members

-Partner with other disability groups and have joint efforts such as a walk-a-thon

-Participate in other disability group fundraising and invite them to your fundraisers

-Engage celebrity personalities from your community in your chapter/affiliate events and they may bring their connections and resources

-Have a barbecue or chili contest (ask for entry fee) and ask a public figure or celebrity to judge

-Have a White Cane Ball

-Sell ads placed in your convention program; banks, insurance companies, and other service companies

-Sell colorful wristbands with braille on them

-Have "Dining in the Dark" events

-Have an event for Louis Braille Day

-Have wine-tasting event; can include music, inspirational speaker, or dinner

Another discussion topic was using coloring pages in restaurants to gain more exposure for your chapter or affiliate. Many restaurants offer coloring pages for children while their families are waiting for the food they've ordered. Remember, this is a coloring sheet; too much wording would detract from its use by children. Here is a description of three coloring sheets that were used by the ACB of Indiana.

Coloring sheet 2007: The wording on the upper left side of the sheet states: "Kids, remind your parents to stop for the white cane." On the upper right: "It's the Indiana White Cane Law." On the left side of the sheet, a vehicle faced the center. In the center of the sheet, a dog policeman with open hand indicating stop faced forward, and a person with a white cane walking down a sidewalk facing the center of the sheet was on the right side of the sheet. Across the bottom below the picture: "Informational message by the American Council of the Blind of Indiana."

Coloring sheet 2007: The wording across the top states "October is White Cane Safety Month." On the left in bullet form are the statements: "Please stop for the white cane - it's the Indiana Law! Please stop before the crosswalk. Please trim low hanging limbs. Please keep sidewalks free of toys, bicycles, trash cans and debris. We thank you!" The picture is on the right two-thirds of the page. It depicts a residential area with trees, houses, sidewalks, a street intersection, marked crosswalks. Our dog police officer is just left of the center of the sheet facing the right with open hand and outstretched arm indicating stop. The vehicle is coming from the right side of the sheet near the intersection and facing left. The individual with a white cane is facing forward, nearing the crosswalk. Across the bottom of the sheet are the words: "Distributed by the American Council of the Blind of Indiana."

Coloring sheet 2008: The wording across the top of the sheet is: "White Cane Safety Day. The American Council of the Blind of Indiana would like to remind you that hybrid cars pose a special risk to the visually impaired as they make virtually no sound in urban environments. Please help us to stay safe. Thank you." On the left side of the sheet is a large traffic signal and on the right side of the sheet is a dot-to-dot automobile. Across the bottom below the picture: "Informational message by the American Council of the Blind of Indiana."

In addition to the coloring sheets being taken to the restaurants, Indiana also sends a press release relating to White Cane Safety Day to the media and publicly thank the restaurants for their support. A certificate of appreciation is also given to each participating restaurant. If you have further questions on the coloring sheet endeavor, please e-mail Sue L'Esperance at [email protected].

Coloring pages could also be used for other occasions like braille literacy month. Other issues of importance could also be addressed. Happy planning! Don't hesitate to call on the membership committee for further assistance. Or check out other articles on membership ideas on the ACB web site under the resources link. We hope you will participate on the next membership focus call.

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