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Member retention

Keep ’em coming

OK, you got new people in the door, they signed up for Key Club. Now comes the hard part: How do you keep them? We talked to Key Clubbers like you to find ways to slow the flow out the back door.

New Jersey District Secretary and Eastern Senior High School Key Club member Namir Shah and Stonewall Jackson Sr. High School Key Club President Danielle Capezzuto shared their insight with us.

Make meetings fun

Start with an ice-breaker. Ice-breaker activities can even the playing field, break up cliques and wake people up, especially if they involve laughter.
Incorporate service into your meetings. Tie fleece blankets,knit, sort or pack food, wrap presents … hands and ears work independently, you know.
Get a new point of view. If the meeting stalls, ask members to jump up and change seats; a new perspective might spur new thoughts.
Get in the groove. Add music as a background to service projects or social time.
Limit announcements. Those can be made via e-mail.
Keep it fresh. Have a speaker.
Incorporate ideas from the Key Club booklet Make Your Meetings Move.

Everyone likes to be heard

Get your new members to share a little insight with you and use that information to keep them interested.
What to ask
What motivates you?
How to use the info
Incorporate these motivating factors into your club meetings, projects and social events.

What to ask
What other service project ideas do you have?
How to use the info
Do as many as you can.

What to ask
What do you want from Key Club?
How to use the info
Make sure they have realistic expectations, then live up to them.

What to ask
What are your favorite causes?
How to use the info
Take these causes into consideration when planning the club’s service projects.

What to ask
Can you bring a friend to our next service project?
How to use the info
Maybe once these friends see what Key Club does, they’ll want to be involved too.

What to ask
What projects do you want to handle?
How to use the info
Involve new members in projects that interest them by delegating some responsibility to them. This makes people feel useful and needed.
“If you’re doing a small service activity (i.e. holiday-card making for soldiers), bring music to the meeting,” says Capezzuto. “If you bring an iPod dock, then the members can share their music and turn it into a really relaxing and fun meeting. Try to keep popular music playing so everyone sings along.”

Show them you care

Remember birthdays
Send frequent and sincere thank-you notes
Treat them to treats
Surprise members with candy, smoothies, ice cream or pizza, not every meeting, but just as a special treat.
Have fun awards along with the serious ones
Best leaf-raker, corniest joke-teller, silliest hat, etc. Make up something appropriate for each member so everyone gets an award or certificate.
Name a “Member of the Month”
Remember that all members are important, so make them feel that way

Set big, hairy, audacious goals

“Many clubs perform excellent service through frequent small scale projects, which are undoubtedly valuable,” says Shah. “However, to really keep the interest of members, our club has seen that holding a few high-profile projects or fundraisers really attracts members. When Key Clubbers have many opportunities to do what they do best—serve—and they can see the impact of their service, they are sure to stay in the club.”

Don’t just let them leave

Reach out. If members miss a meeting or two, stop them in the hall or send them an e-mail or text saying that you miss them.Think back
Now’s the time to help them remember what motivated them to join and apply that instead of guilt!
Make it all better
If someone quits or stops attending meetings, find out why. Maybe you’ll learn of a problem that can be fixed, saving that member—and maybe others—from leaving.
Talking to members about them leaving isn’t easy, but it can help, says Shah: “If the club’s officers approach members with a genuine desire to improve the club, these members will give their honest opinion on what changes they would like to see, from the charities the club works with to the meeting schedule.”

Timing is everything

Take notice of when membership changes occur.
“Our general membership tends to be most active during the beginning and the end of the school year,” Shah says. “The biggest dips in member involvement occur in November and right after winter break (from January until about March). Because midterm exams are in January and many students begin new sports seasons or other activities, meetings have lower attendance, and fewer members attend service projects.”
Plan events during those “slow” times.
“In our club, we hold our largest events of the year just as members think about decreasing their involvement,” Shah says. “In early November, we hold a weeklong Children’s Specialized Hospital Week fundraiser for our district project. When members see a large event with a lot of publicity around the school, they want to stay active in the club.”

5 Key Club competitors

1. Sports
2. Job
3. Homework/study
4. Family/friend commitments
5. Other clubs/activities

Why members leave Key Club

1. Boring meetings
2. Too much other stuff to do
3. Not interested in the projects
4. Don’t see the result of the projects
5. Too much/not enough responsibility in the club

Why members stay in Key Club

1. Make a difference in people’s lives
2. Make new friends
3. Have fun
4. Beef up your college applications
5. Learn leadership skills

How to motivate members

1. Give positive feedback
2. Find friendships
3. Provide food
4. Be wacky and enthusiastic
5. Do interesting projects
6. Plan trips to district and international conventions

Keep it postitive

+ Use positive feedback/ reinforcement
+ Celebrate even small accomplishments
+ Encourage new members—never forget that they can bring new ideas and creativity to a club
+ Deal with problems, but try to see the positive side

Realize that some members just aren’t going to stay, no matter the reason. Deal with it, learn from it and recruit new ones!