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The Art of Planning a Membership Drive

Posted By Marie Schoenfeldt, PLS, CLA, Garland County LSP, Arkansas, Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019

Whether planning a wedding or an organization event, you need a plan, a schedule, a list—something to use as a guide. Planning consists of setting goals.  However, don’t plan out of your reach so that expectations are impossible to attain right from the start. Goals should be realistic and challenging, but not set so low that there is no incentive. 

 

In planning a membership drive, your ultimate goal should be to improve membership by recruiting and retaining members. Identify what must be done first, second, etc., what can be postponed till later, what needs to be done now. What are the best methods to get to the end result?  Make your “to do” list starting out with your first priority. As you add to your list, rearrange priorities if necessary. Determine the methods of going from your first priority to the last item.  Set deadlines for each facet of your plan.

 

Your first priority is to select a committee. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Delegate! Set a date to meet with your committee members at a time convenient for everyone. Discuss your goals.  What type of membership drive is best for your chapter and the legal community? Have a discussion on where to get the information you need to plan your event effectively. Encourage your committee members to offer their suggestions. Be especially cognizant of the potential of all of your members and get them involved. Ask them to set a personal goal to bring at least one potential new member to your membership event. 

 

Follow the same rules that apply to writing: what, when, where, who, why, and add a how. 

 

WHO. Our Association consists of legal professionals - secretaries, legal assistants, paralegals, file clerks, project assistants, law clerks, firm administrators, and office managers as well as attorneys. In addition to law firms, legal professionals will be found in law departments of corporations, trust departments of banks, legal departments of hospitals, etc. Reach out to all of the various areas involved in the legal field - court personnel (including court administrators and court reporters, circuit and county clerks) as well as city/municipal personnel, and process servers.  Don’t forget the local schools, (community and vocational). NALS offers a student discount.  

 

WHAT.  In addition to marketing our multi-level Association to legal professionals, we are also marketing our “products,” which include:

  • certifications,

  • legal education,

  • networking,

  • professionalism,

  • improvement of individual performance,

  • learning ways to do a task better,

  • learning to be a leader,

  • support of other members.

Prepare potential member packets with information about your chapter and the state and national associations. Brochures and other informational documents are readily available from NALS.  Include information about the certification programs and upcoming legal education and other events.

 

WHEN.   Determine the best time to conduct your membership drive - timing is crucial.  Early fall or after the first of the year have proven to be the best times—seasons of beginnings–when potential members are inclined to consider their careers and are conducive to improving themselves, in their employment and in their personal lives

 

WHERE.  Have your committee members check out possible locations to host your event.  The location should be readily available to potential members as well as current members.  Perhaps sponsor a social gathering at a local restaurant after work or at lunch in a quiet separate section. Remember members and potential members have responsibilities to their employers as well as their families.  Consider furnishing refreshments.

 

WHY.  If we don’t market our Association, how can we expect to get new members?  This should be an ongoing process.  All members should be proud to show that they are a members of a great professional association and let others know about our Association.  Members should always be aware of recruiting new members.

 

HOW.  There is more than one way to reach people.  Determine the best way for your chapter to reach potential members through direct correspondence and personal contact. Try educational events, direct mail, phone solicitations, in-person visits, staged recruitment events, and pro bono or community activities. Distribute brochures with information about your chapter and your state association (NALS also has many types of brochures available).   Place an article in the local newspaper regarding your upcoming membership drive with at least two contact people listed.  Choose a theme or slogan that is easily recognizable and easy to say and remember.  

 

Contacting the employers is a must.  Let them know why their support staff should be members of our Association and reap its benefits.  Market our products directly to them.  Get the employers’ assistance to encourage their staff to join and participate.  Let employers know that NALS offers a one-stop source for training, educating, and developing a professional staff who will be committed to their legal careers and to them.

 

Prepare a flyer outlining our Association’s benefits, indicating why one should consider membership.  In addition to our “products,” employers will have a “one stop” source for training, educating, and developing a professional staff who will be committed to their legal career and to the employer.  Set out the date, time, and place of your membership activity.  Fax the flyer to the various offices (law firms, trust departments, etc.) with an email reminder a few weeks later or hand deliver your information.  These methods are at no cost to the chapter.

 

Project enthusiasm about our Association and the benefits you have received.  Determination is needed to gain members who are enthusiastic, positive, and eager to be a part of NALS.  Those who look at their job as a profession will see NALS as a stepping stone to achieve their goals.

 

Now is the time to start planning to increase your membership!

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