Have you ever felt discouraged attending the pro-life meetings at your school? Do you find yourself asking, “Where is every one?” This is the most pro-life generation since the passing of Roe v. Wade and yet we still can’t seem to motivate people to show up. In my experience as Regional Coordinator and working with lots of student pro-life groups, here are some things I’ve observed that might help your group recruit and retain committed members.
1. No one knows your club exists.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a college campus helping with an event or display and the people walking by or stopping to talk ask me, “What club is this, anyway?” or, “Oh, a pro-life club? I didn’t know we had that. I would totally be a part of it. When do you meet?”
Solution: When you have events, bring sign-up sheets and fliers for the next meeting. Every event is a recruiting event. Are you hosting an SFLA Tour display? Bring a sign-up sheet and fliers. Are you giving out cookies or cupcakes? Bring a sign-up sheet and fliers.
2. The recruiting table is boring and un-inviting
Think about the club fair at your school. What tables interested you the most? Probably something with a free give-away or attractive signs. Ask yourself, would you visit your table? The most successful tabling I saw was actually outside in freezing December weather because the group had free coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies. They would shout, “Free coffee!” and then talk to people while they filled their cups.
Solution: Your table should be equipped with a well-made, bold, easy-to-read sign. None of this “I quickly scribbled on a poster board five minutes before the event” business. Get a tri-fold display showing pictures of community service projects the club has accomplished or other events to show what members will do. Have plenty of free take-away items like candy or our FREE topic cards at our store.
3. Members don’t feel personally connected
Even after you have a great table display, you’ve reserved a space every week, and you have a ton of sign-ups… people still just don’t attend your meeting. Don’t lose hope! There are plenty of reasons for this, but a popular one might be the lack of a personal connection. Attending a club fair or tabling event can be like grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Some students just sign-up for everything that looks appealing at the time, but it’s the truly inspiring well-connected club they’re going to commit their precious time to.
Solution: Follow-up with the club sign-ups beyond a group email or Facebook post. At least one email should be personalized, “Hey Michele, I am so glad we met today at the club fair. It’s refreshing to hear your passion about the pro-life movement and I’m looking forward to working with you at our next meeting…” The best club just seem to know everyone. They smile and say hello to lots of people. You don’t have to be the super-popular person, but make an effort to get to know people.
4. Meetings lack direction
For a new member, the first meeting is almost like a first date. First impressions are everything. This new member obviously has shared interests and made himself or herself available for you to present something worthwhile. They showed up, now it’s your move to woo them.
Solution: Remember, any meeting could be someone’s first meeting so always make sure the time is well-organized. Have an agenda. Start with something positive the group has accomplished or share a related good-feeling story from our site to encourage members. There are brief training videos here to learn more about running a meeting and using agendas.
5. Meetings lack fun!
We all need fun built into our day, and even into our meetings. While the main goal is for your club to be productive and achieve goals, but it’s easy to get burnt out. Plus, building in time for socialization helps make those personal connections.
Solution: Food. People will come to places that offer free food, so have it each meeting to start or finish. (Some clubs decide to bring out food at the end to keep people around.) Have your meeting at a local coffee shop or diner. Host a pro-life movie night with popcorn and discussion afterwards. Mix it up and get people excited about meeting.