Membership Best Practices

Welcome to the Membership Best Practices page

 

Here you’ll find a collection of great ideas from experienced Scouters to help bolster your local recruitment and retention efforts.

 

Have any idea to share?

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Back-to-School or Open House Events:

  • If your local school(s) holds informational or orientation events for parents and students and permits outside groups to participate, make sure your unit is represented to get out the word about the great program you have to offer.
  • Set-up a display that includes pictures of past activities, videos, handbooks, and sample projects.
  • Hands-on activities and give-away items help capture the attention of those in attendance.
  • Have your unit’s calendar of events on hand, along with information about your sign-up event (including contact information; the council provides fliers free of charge—see next section)
  • Also be ready to accept sign-ups on the spot. Make sure to have plenty of paper applications and, if internet is available, have one or more laptops to accept online applications.
  • If another unit recruits from the same school, please team-up and work together. There are far more young people not involved in Scouting than are involved; let’s try to serve them all.

School Talks:

  • Especially for Cub Scout-age boys, school talks are a great way to get potential Scouts excited about joining the program.
  • Work with your district membership chair or professional to find out if your local school(s) allow outside groups to give brief presentations to students. If so, work together to schedule the visit, preferably two to three days before the sign-up, and determine who will give the presentation.
  • Options include classroom-to-classroom, assemblies, or lunchroom presentations.
  • Wear your field or activity uniform to a school talk.
  • Bring the sign-up event fliers to distribute, as well as props such as pinewood derby cars, camping equipment, etc. to use during the presentation.
  • Make sure to arrive on-time, check-in at the school office, and thank teachers and administrators for the opportunity to give the presentation. Popcorn thank-you gifts are available from the council.
  • Practice your presentation and keep it short. Focus on the fun activities they can experience in Scouting. Be engaging and exciting.
  • At the end of the presentation, make sure to explain how to bring the flier home and tell their parents they’d like to join. Some presenters like to have the students fold-up the flier and put it in their sock; once they get home they can put it on the refrigerator.
  • Click here to view a sample school talk presentation.

Adults Should Use Word of Mouth to Get Families Involved:

  • Word of mouth is still the most effective advertising around and has been identified as the number one reason why families join the program.
  • You’ve got a great program that’s making a positive impact on youth, families, and your community—don’t keep it a secret!
  • Families consistently see the value of Scouting in their own lives and as a result they are our best sales people.
  • Share Scouting’s benefits and excitement with other parents. Most families are looking for programs filled with excitement and opportunities for leadership development and positive values.
  • Seek adult volunteers who can lend a hand for a good cause at any of your regular meetings.

Yard Signs:

  • Yard signs are available from the council.
  • In the white space, make sure to include your sign-up event and contact information.
  • Please be aware of any local regulations regarding yard signs.
  • Post signs at strategic locations within the community, including intersections. If a school, church, recreation center, or other organization will allow it, post signs there as well.

Display Cases and Bulletin Boards:

  • Seek permission from a school, church, recreation center, or other organization to use their display case.
  • Ask a volunteer or parent from your unit from to be responsible for setting-up the display and changing it once a month during the year. Each month should have a monthly theme with catch phrases to attract attention, and the display items should go along with the monthly theme.
  • The display should be fun and informative and create a sense of excitement about the Scouting program.
  • If access to the display case all year round is not possible, using it in the beginning of the school year would be the best time.

Sign-Up Information Flier:

  • Inform your district membership chair or professional of the date, time, and location of your unit’s sign-up event, as well as contact names, emails and phone numbers. You may also submit your information here.
  • Your district professional is responsible for distributing the fliers once your unit information is submitted, or getting the fliers to a volunteer to distribute in a timely manner.
  • Before your sign-up, the district professional or volunteer will deliver the fliers to the school(s) several days prior (or the earliest “take-home” day prior) and will talk directly to the students if possible.
  • Use additional fliers to post on bulletin boards, local businesses, etc.

Develop a Unit Information Sheet:

  • Create a one-page (can be 2-sided) information sheet about your unit to have available to distribute (hardcopies and electronically via email or social media) to any interested person at any time (in addition to at your joining event).
  • This is your chance to brag about your unit. Include items such as time, date and location of meetings, list of upcoming events, leaders’ names and contact information, and other details (cost to join, uniforms, etc.). Include pictures!
  • Provide your chartered organization with copies of the sheet so they can answer any questions they might receive regarding your unit.
  • Make sure that your committee members and parents have copies of the sheet to distribute, too.

Encourage Existing Scouts to Invite their Friends to Join:

  • This can be done year-round.
  • Equip your Scouts with “business cards” that include meeting and contact information so they can distribute to their friends.
  • Place special emphasis on “Bring-A-Friend” after your initial sign-up night, especially in the months of November and October.
  • Scouts who recruit their friends to join are eligible to receive a special patch provided by the council. See colbsa.org/recruit for details.

Scouts and Leaders “Sport” Your Uniform Often:

  • Wearing the uniform is like a walking billboard and can grabs the attention of youth and adults.
  • The uniform also serves as a conversation piece and can start a conversation about the benefits of the program and why families should get involved.
  • For Cub Scout packs especially, encourage every Scout to wear their uniform to school on the day of your joining event and on the days of your meetings.
  • Some units encourage their Scouts to wear their summer camp t-shirts to school as a way to spur conversation about all the fun activities available through Scouting.
  • Be knowledgeable about what all the patches mean and share the excitement of Scouting.

Show and Tell:

  • Encourage your Scouts to use their Scouting experiences as a part of their “Show and Tell” opportunities in school.
  • This can be done before the unit’s sign-up event or anytime during the school year.
  • Scouts should bring videos, photographs, awards, uniform, Pinewood Derby cars, Scouting projects, and other exciting visuals.
  • And, if possible, Scouts should distribute fliers or business cards with joining information at the conclusion of their presentation.

Personalized Invitation or Letter (Direct Mail Approach):

  • If feasible, work with school officials, parent-teacher organizations, churches, or sport teams to secure list of names and addresses.
  • Personalize a letter or card including a description of your program, the sign-up event information, and contact details.
  • Mail or deliver seven to ten days prior to your unit sign-up event.
  • If addresses are unavailable, or postage is too costly, seek permission to deliver the personalized invitations to the classrooms.
  • E-mail the invitation if you can, or use social networks like Facebook.

School, Church, Community or Business Newsletters and Websites:

  • This can be done any time throughout the year, especially in the first month of school, a week or two prior to your sign-up event.
  • Speak with the person in charge of the newsletter or website to find out how and when to submit an article or announcement.
  • If your school hosts their own website, post information there as well.
  • Include information that will attract the readers’ attention while also sharing logistical information regarding the your unit.

Best Practices Submission

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Hold a Quality Outdoor Experience for the New Scouts:

  • Deliver the promise of Scouting with a great first outdoor experience for Scouts soon after joining.
  • Camp outs for troops, rocket launches, raingutter regattas, etc.
  • New Cub Scouts in the Cradle of Liberty Council get to attend one of six Fall Fest days at Musser Scout Reservation in Pennsburg, PA for FREE!
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Recruiting Boy Scouts:

Baden-Powell District Troop 5t542_frontbig2142 recognized a need to recruit new Boy Scouts aside from (but in addition to) relying on Webelos crossovers from local packs to fill their ranks. The leadership decided to hold an open house and devised a strategy to target families of prospective new Scouts. Their multifaceted approach to advertising their open house used the following methods:

  • Posting information about the event on their website
  • Notifying troop families directly through a phone chain, direct email, and remind.com
  • And, most importantly, through an aggressive social media campaign including posting to Facebook

The measure of success of the troop’s recruiting event was the 11 new boys, none of whom were previously involved in Scouting, who attended the open house with their families.

At the open house, using visual displays, a brief PowerPoint presentation, and a video montage of highlights of the troop’s activities, the troop’s top-notch program was shared with the prospective new Scouts and their families.

All of the new Scouts have already attended their first meeting and are participating in the troop’s spring activities. Aggressive marketing of your unit, sharing information about activities with your families, and specifically asking that they reach out to their friends and neighbors to share the promise, is an effective way to sustain and grow your unit.

Side note: Troop 542 regularly has more than 100 Scouts registered.

Use Career Interest Surveys:
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  • Encourage youth 13 through 20 years of age to complete the brief online Exploring Career Interest Survey.
  • This survey asks for their top two career interests and top two hobby interests.
  • Using the surveys, council staff can facilitate matching students to Exploring posts that match their career interests as well as Venturing crews that match their hobby interests.
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