You’ve kicked the school year off right and stepped up your recruiting efforts, and new faces have started checking out your Key Club. Maybe some students already have joined. Now comes the hard part: getting those new members to come back. Try these suggestions for getting students to stick around:
Be welcoming at every meeting, not just the first one. Sure, it seems obvious, but it’s easy to be all about smiles and enthusiasm when greeting newbies at your kickoff meeting. But if you virtually ignore prospects at the second one, they won’t return. Make an effort to warmly recognize returning students and tell them how glad you are to see them again.
Assign mentors. Ideally, every new member should be matched with a club mentor, who will be an automatic friendly, familiar face at each meeting. A mentor can help the member learn about club policies and procedures, benefits and expectations and can offer personalized introductions to existing members and club advisors. For students in their first year at a new school, a mentor also can serve as a trusted source of advice and insight.
Focus on quality, not quantity, at meetings. Working time for a club into an already crazy, busy schedule can be challenging. Don’t give any of your members an excuse to drop out. Make an agenda for each meeting and stick to it; don’t let personal conversations sidetrack your members and stretch the meeting past its scheduled end. During the meeting, encourage all members to offer their input and stress that every opinion is valued and considered. Meetings and service projects should be inclusive and respectful of everyone in attendance.
Engage members with meaningful responsibilities. Take the time to discover what motivates your members and assign them tasks that align with their skills and interests. Members are more likely to attend regularly if they know they’ll be actively participating and others are counting on them.
Rewards work wonders. Everyone needs to hear that their attendance and hard work are appreciated. Rewards can be as simple as providing light refreshments at each meeting or as large as a club-wide dinner to celebrate the completion of a major service project. And don’t forget that a simple thank you goes a long way — not just to the group, but to each member individually.
Follow up. Record attendance at your meetings, and if you notice a member has skipped a meeting or project, reach out. Let members know you miss their contributions and want them to return. For new members, a call or text from their mentors can make them feel valued and also gives them a chance to bring up any concerns that might be keeping them from attending.