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Recruiting and Retaining Members

Tangible tips on finding new members and keeping them engaged long-term!

“How do we get more people to come to our meetings?” “How do we keep people involved?”

We hear these two questions, in various forms, at every single neighborhood meeting. So if you’re having a difficult time recruiting and retaining members for your association, you are not alone.

Every association faces different challenges to getting people to participate. Oftentimes it boils down to time constraints, family obligations, inaccurate perceptions/assumptions, not understanding the purpose of getting involved, or not feeling like you have a voice.  So how do you combat those challenges?

Work on your messaging!

Make sure your association has a clear message about their work and purpose. What is your group seeing to accomplish? Is the mission/purpose of your association simple enough so each member can recite it from memory?

All members should be comfortable talking about the purpose of the association because all members must be in recruitment mode on a regular basis. It should be part of the culture of your association. This means that during every social interaction within the community, there exists an opportunity to recruit new members (shopping at the grocery store, hanging out at the neighborhood park, visiting the local dog park, etc.).

Your board and membership should develop something along the lines of a scripted message that can be used to get neighbors excited about the work that your organization is engaged in. Encouraging member involvement via personal invitation is the most effective way to get new members involved.

Get creative!

Some ideas that we have heard from neighborhoods across the City include:

  • Host food drives
  • Remind neighbors of the importance of being a connected neighborhood
  • Focus on reducing crime in the neighborhood because “we look out for each other”
  • Form partnerships with nearby associations who share the same vision/goal and challenges
  • Create a “welcome wagon” where new residents are greeted by a welcome crew with information that outlines neighborhood services and businesses.
  • Enlist the help of block captains who have active neighborhood watch programs within your association’s boundaries.
  • Recognize people’s work in the neighborhood publicly
  • Hold an Open House Event a week or two ahead of an annual or large special meeting during the year so that you can help build interest and momentum leading up to your general membership meeting
  • Use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to connect with your membership

To identify which idea will work best for your neighborhood, think through the following questions:

  • Which one relates most to the purpose of your association?
  • Where does your association what to be in 10 years?
  • What unites people in your neighborhood?

Focus on Effective Communication!

Place flyers or other literature at key locations where community members congregate (i.e. coffee shop, shopping centers, multigenerational centers, etc).

Conduct an assessment of different programs that include a service learning/volunteerism component that currently exist within your community. Reach out to the program coordinators to discuss the possibilities on partnering to assist with outreach efforts.

Develop a clear and implementable strategy on how to communicate with visitors who attend your meetings and/or events. Ask them what it was that attracted them to check out your association’s meeting.

Consider conducting exit interviews when a member chooses to no longer participate. What caused them to leave? How can you improve future interactions?

Engage your board/membership in an online survey to get a pulse on the issues that are important to your neighborhood. This can also serve as a recruitment tool.

Additional Resources:

Check out our YouTube Channel where we’ve posted videos from neighborhood leaders sharing some of their ideas on this topic.

Consider sitting down as a board to engage in a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis. This type of analysis can help your association take a step back and assist in planning efforts to increase participation. You can do a simple Google search for other articles that might be useful on this topic.

Share what's worked for you, what hasn't been as successful, and best practices, via the ONC's social media venues on Facebook and Instagram! Post a photo to our Facebook page and tell us how it helped boost membership! Post a photo to your own Instagram feed and share why this idea worked for your neighborhood, and send to us using @abqneighborhoods and use the hashtags: #abqneighborhoods #neighborhoodassociations #neighbors #neighborhoods #wontyoubemyneighbor