This information is copied from the GSMOL Chapter Handbook, revised October 2017. Chapters are welcome to work out their own methods of membership management, as long as they work. There is more than one way to skin a cat!
Successful membership building involves three basic goals:
- Get members.
- Keep members.
- Support members.
The specific strategies for accomplishing these goals vary from park to park, and also depend upon whether your Chapter has a designated Membership person (which we will call MC, for Membership Coordinator or Chairperson), and whether that person has any helpers, especially if the park is large. On these pages we present some recommendations which have been “kid-tested, mother-approved”. There are lots of other good ideas out there… we will publish membership ideas (which we may have gotten from people like YOU) from time to time in The Californian and/or on the website.
In large parks, it’s a good idea to divide the park up into “blocks”. Each block should have about the same number of households. Each block will have a Block Captain (BC). The Block Captains may be assigned to carry out tasks such as the ones described below for their blocks. Either the MC or the BCs may appoint helpers – for example, a good “people person” to be the one who visits residents in person, or someone who enjoys walking around the park to be a Fearless Flyer Flinger.
Block organization is also useful for setting up an Emergency Response plan for your park.
Welcome Wagon: Keep track of homes for sale. When a new resident moves in, visit them with a “Welcome Packet” containing a GSMOL flyer (the “Who We Are” handout is a good choice), a membership form, and perhaps a back issue of The Californian (the Home Office can supply these). Speak to them in person, if you can, and encourage them to join. Some of the things you want to tell them are:
- Who we are
- What we do
- Some of the things we’ve done lately statewide and locally
- Why it’s important for them to join
The specific information for these points can be found in the “Who We Are” handout. Also tell them about your Chapter, when the meetings are held, and who they should contact if they have questions. Introduce the new member at your next Chapter meeting.
Each One Reach One: Give each of your GSMOL members a membership form and a flyer with information about GSMOL (such as the “Who We Are” handout). Ask them to sign up just one other resident in the park for GSMOL, and have them pass on the same “kit” to the person they sign up, with the request that THEY sign up a new person. This is known as a “grassroots” effort. (Optional: have a contest among the blocks in the park to see which block can sign up the most new members. In this case, members are only allowed to “recruit” in their own block.)
Personalize the Renewal Process: In parks where renewals are NOT handled personally by the park’s MC or a local GSMOL leader, the process goes something like this:
- Let’s assume a member’s Anniversary Month (the month he joined GSMOL) is June. This is the month he will renew each year (or in three years if he has a 3-year membership).
- In May of the year he is to renew, the Home Office sends him a Renewal Notice. He would normally return the notice in the envelope provided, along with his check.
- If he hasn’t returned his renewal by the end of June, he is sent a second notice in July. At this point the Home Office considers him no longer a member in good standing.
- If he still hasn’t returned the renewal by the end of July, a third notice goes out to him in August.
- If he still doesn’t renew, he gets a grace period of three more months and then he is purged from the records, and if he should want to rejoin later, he would need to send in a new application.
It’s easy to see how members can fall through the cracks if nobody is paying attention to whether they renew or not. Did they just throw the renewal notice into a pile of bills “to be paid later” and then forget about it? Is there a financial obstacle? Is there some issue with GSMOL that remains unresolved? Has this person passed away or left the park?
The key to keeping members in GSMOL is interacting with them personally. The Home Office can set up the following procedures with the MC:
- The MC would receive all the notices, rather than having them sent directly to the members. The MC (or BCs) would distribute the notices in person to the members.
- The MC (or BCs) would collect the renewal and payment from each member in person and send it in to the Home Office for them.
- The MC (or BCs) would keep track of the members and their anniversary dates and follow up with any who don’t return their renewal on time.
- The Chapter could establish a Chapter Renewal Month so that every member renews in the same month each year. This makes it much easier to distribute and collect the renewals; you could even throw a big Membership Renewal party.
Set up a Chapter Renewal Month
- Select the month which has the most memberships due and inform the Home Office. That becomes your Chapter Renewal Month. The MC (or BCs) may now become responsible for collecting the renewal payments and sending them in all together.
- For the first year or so, those who have a different anniversary month from the Chapter Renewal Month, or are NEW members, will pay a pro-rated membership amount. The Home Office will calculate the appropriate amount for each of these members to pay in order to get them paid up to the next Chapter Renewal Month.
Enroll more new members than you lose through “natural” causes:
If nobody was doing anything about membership in a park, membership would steadily decrease, because we lose members all the time due to “natural” causes… i.e. they are no longer in the park. As you notice members’ homes for sale, try to sign up the new resident who buys that member’s home plus one other new member. This will allow us to do better than just breaking even.
Since you interact with members at various times (when you sign them up for membership, when they are up for renewal, etc.) you may be asked a question that you can’t answer, or be presented with an issue that you don’t know how to solve.
Know where to find the answers!
Your chapter should build and maintain a list of references for your Officers and members, like the sample that we have included (see Recommended References elsewhere in this Handbook).
Kick it upstairs!
If you are not able to find an answer to a member’s question, or if you get in over your head with an issue, don’t worry – you can always “kick it upstairs”. This is one reason we have a network of GSMOL leaders, beginning with your Chapter officers, and then, depending upon your area, your nearest Associate Manager, Assistant Manager, Regional Manager, or Zone Vice President (find their contact information on the map here) These leaders will help you find the information or solution that you need.