Begin by ask yourself these questions:
- Why grow membership?
- How big is your organization today? How big do you want it to be?
- Is there such a thing as too many people?
- What does your organization currently do to grow membership?
- How does your org welcome new members?
Growing membership is key to organizational success
Consider the makeup of your organization in terms of class. How many Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors, and Graduate Students does your org have? It’s important to have a relatively even number of each class to ensure long term success and natural growth within the organization.
Do you provide students that are new to your group an opportunity to grow? Consider putting younger members in important, but safe, positions. For example, consider having a new member join a committee or two. Perhaps they can even lead the committee.
Are elections open to everyone? Allowing younger members to get into officer positions can be important for gaining valuable leadership skills
MEMBERSHIP IN YOUR ORG
How big is your organization and how big do you want it to be?
Some organizations thrive when they have 50+ students. Others are more comfortable with 10-20 members. Remember your organizational impact isn’t defined by the number of people you have. Consider the pros and cons of having different numbers of members. Keep in mind that a healthy organization has at least 10 members.
Set membership goals
Consider the following SMART goals. SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (SMART)
“We want to increase our membership by 20 students this semester”
“We want to increase our membership by 25% this year”
“We want to grow our membership by the number of people graduating this year”
“We want to increase our membership by 20 students this semester.” Many orgs set goals by defining a number that they want to increase by 20 students is a lot of students, therefore 20 may not be a great number for everybody. An org that currently has 60 students will have a better chance of getting 20 new members than a group that currently has 7 students
“We want to increase our membership by 25% this year.” For smaller groups, using a percentage might make more sense. Be sure to adjust your percentage based on your overall goals.
“We want to grow our membership by the number of people graduating this year.” At minimum, it is recommended to replace those members that will be graduating If you have 6 graduating students at the end of the semester, you’ll want to have at least 6 students join that semester. This will ensure your membership stays steady.
So, how do you grow your organization’s membership? There is no one correct answer!
Generally, the more students you meet and introduce to your group the better. Not every student will join, but at least you are increasing the number of students that know about your group.
Here are a few helpful ways to grow membership:
- Participate in the Fall and Winter Involvement Fair
- Table often and in different places on campus
- Hold events that are open to all students in an inclusive space
- Attend events that pertain to your student org
- Utilize marketing to spread the word about your org
- Knowing and understanding your organization is key to growing membership
- Be sure you know not only what your organization does, but also why your org exists
- What: Does your org volunteer, focus on academics, or create networking opportunities?
- Know the “Why.” What is the big picture of your group? The higher meaning? This is what will create strong ties between students and your organization
Is your org geared towards a certain student? Perhaps your org is geared towards a certain degree or type of student. Is your membership open to all or are there select criteria? Knowing this can help you be specific in growing your organization
Be sure to be as inclusive as you can be- creating safe and open spaces within your organization is key to ensuring that your organization can be a home for all, not just one type of student.
ENGAGING NEW MEMBERS
Joining an organization is easy, but engaging new members is much more complex and difficult.
- Consider having new members join a committee within the organization.
- Are new members allowed to run for an officer position? Many students want leadership opportunities within student orgs.
- If a younger student doesn’t get the officer position they wanted, can they still find an opportunity to gain leadership skills?
- Be sure to know and understand UW-Milwaukee’s anti-hazing policy. The full policy can be found in the Student Org Manual. Build connections and leadership, not hazing practices
The Grapes Theory
Why do people get involved and stay involved?
- Growth- This means personal growth- learning to work with others and learning new skills such as time management and decision making
- Recognition- Anything from an actual award to a pat on the back. We all like to receive recognition for a job well done.
- Achievement- The personal sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing a project through from beginning to end and knowing that you had a part in skills such as time management and decision
- Participation- Being involved in organizations is a great way to participate in campus life and make new friends
- Enjoyment- People get involved because they enjoy the social aspect of working with others. It’s fun!
- Social- Being a part of a group is important to an individual’s well-being. It’s an opportunity to meet others and to build relationships that last a lifetime!