I would like to thank Madam President Barbara Franklin for asking me to serve as the 2023 – 2024 Membership Program Chairman for the Department of Mississippi. It is truly an honor to be asked to serve again, and I am very excited to be able to work with our National Program Ambassador/Executive Producer Ansje Lansing; our Southern Stars Conference Coach/Director of Grease, Evan Smiley; Madam President Barbara; and all of you in making this a very successful and fun year.
Lights, Camera, Action!
We all know that membership is the lifeblood of our organization. Without existing and new members, we would cease to exist. We often use the terms Invite, Include, and Invest when talking about recruiting and retaining new members. However, we should use the terms to Invite New Members, Include Current Members, and Invest in the Future of All Members and Our Organization.
This Program Year, we also want to make our Membership Program fun for all. Do you remember how much fun it was to go to the movies or did you ever attend a movie premier? This year, we are going to incorporate movies into our Membership Program. Will you be the talent scout, the director, the cameraman, the key grip, etc.? Every member is important and vital to getting the job done.
Invite & Recruit
Recruiting up-and-coming stars is a cornerstone of your Auxiliary’s mission. Be sure to keep scouting for that talent in your new recruits to help keep your organization alive and active. As members/talent scouts, it’s up to you to chat up a storm about our organization and show your enthusiasm about who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Also, be sure to invite more members to be talent scouts and then ask our seasoned members/actors to help guide, encourage, and motivate our newbies and get them involved. Our seasoned members have a wealth of knowledge and experience and can offer sound advice and, in turn, our newbies can show our seasoned members how to use new technology to enhance and expand our organization.
Always be sure to carry at least a couple of applications with you and a Fact Sheet or two about our organization. Fact Sheets help solidify what you are promoting and definitely may come in handy because you never know when the perfect opportunity may arise to recruit that up-and-coming star. Think about asking your potential members to come to an event and help in some capacity and, most importantly, put on your happy face and SMILE for the camera! See how easy it is to get people involved and connected?
Now it’s time to get all cast and crew members involved in your Auxiliary. No matter how small or how large the jobs are in your Auxiliary, there is always something for everyone to do. Please don’t become a clique and make someone feel as if they aren’t needed because that’s a great way to lose a member quickly! Remember, we were all newbies once upon a time and learned as time went by from seasoned members who took the time to help and encourage us. New members need to feel welcomed and valued and need encouragement to help them stay positive.
This also means that you should shine a light on all members in your Membership Production. For example, did your Auxiliary President appoint a membership team to include the producer (Treasurer) to contact all members during the Program Year for payment of dues?
Before every movie progresses, Lights, Camera, Action!, you need to have a read through with the cast and crew. This is when you need to follow up with these new members. It’s when you need to call them about the upcoming meeting or event. Do they need a ride? Could you meet them before the meeting or event? It would also be a great time to explain the Rituals and Bylaws so they don’t feel left out and in the dark. Sit with them at their first meeting and make them feel welcomed! Always make potential members aware of the importance of the goals of our organization.
Everyone is important to making a great award-winning movie. The same holds true for your Auxiliary. From the key grip to the cameraman to the director, it’s up to each and every one of us to encourage ideas from all members. Remember, all ideas are important and maybe with some slight modification, they can work in your Auxiliary. Don’t shoot down an idea because it has been tried before. Give it a shot and try it with a different approach; it could turn into a star-worthy project. Everyone has different strengths and skills. Find out who excels in certain skills and encourage them in that area. Always be positive and appreciate all that members do. A simple thank you goes a long way, and it helps reinforce that ALL members are important to the Auxiliary.
There are a ton of membership resources available for everyone to use. Check out Member Resources in MALTA. It has everything you need to garner your potential new member. Just log in to MALTA and click on Member Resources and then Membership. Everything you need is there for the picking. • VFW Auxiliary Applications; • VFW Auxiliary Brochure Order Form; • New Member Engagement Guide; • New Member Orientation Checklist; • New Member Packet; • Retention Tools; etc. Our Directors (Conference Coaches) were chosen for their knowledge of the Membership Program, their strong leadership traits, and their great imagination. They pay attention to details as you can see with their taste in movies. They work well with others and are striving to help their Conference earn the coveted “Golden MALTA.” It is the dream of every Director to have their Membership story win the prestigious award for Best Picture of the 2023- 2024 Program Year. Let’s all work together to help make this happen for our Southern States Conference Coach/Director, Evan Smiley. How can we make this happen?
By investing in the future of your Auxiliary, you can grow into a successful franchise. With Lights, Camera, Action!, not only are we having fun, but we’re also Banding Together for Our Veterans. Remember, the VFW Auxiliary started with a small group of women who wanted to serve veterans; it has grown exponentially and now includes both males and females as members. There is only one way to add members: ask someone to join and, once they join, ask them to participate.
- Ask Someone to Join
There are numerous places and times to ask someone if they want to join the VFW Auxiliary. Your approach will look different depending on who your audience is. In all cases, the potential member should have some knowledge of what the VFW Auxiliary is and what we do before they ever receive an application. Some important tools are: • Fact Sheet, available for free from National Headquarters; • Business card with contact information (Order yours from the VFW Store, vfwstore.org.); • MALTA Member Resources.
- Follow Up!
Most likely, the first time you talk to someone new about the organization, that person may not be ready to commit. It’s important to ask for their contact information and then follow up within a week.
- Ask Them to Participate
The key to keeping members is getting them involved. Call or email a new member within a week with the next meeting date and time or the next possible event or project. Offer to pick them up, or invite them to get coffee before or after a meeting. Put a team of members in charge of contacting new members or members who haven’t been to a meeting recently. The team should be friendly and knowledgeable about the Auxiliary.
- Ways to Encourage Participation
• Monthly sign-up sheet for regular events.
• Emails and phone calls for special events.
• Public recognition of current volunteers. (Consider posters at your VFW Post Home, if permitted, that spotlight member involvement.)
• Be specific about what they will be doing, including the time commitment.
• Find out how that person best communicates, whether by phone, email, Facebook, or texting.
• Have another member stay with them for the entire length of the activity or event.
• If they say “no” to the first invitation, be sure to ask again!
• Plan family-friendly events! Members with children in the home want opportunities to do things with their family.
- Have a Plan
Every Department and Auxiliary should have a Membership Plan. This plan should include: • Contacting current members; • Outreach to former members; • Recruiting events for new members; • Picking a mentor for a new member; • Before a membership year begins, set your calendar for these events.
• Make it as easy as possible for members to renew their dues. They can renew online in MALTA!
• Plan at least four recruiting events in your community each year.
Membership Program Awards
- Awards for Members:
1. Lights, Camera, Action! pin to each VFW and VFW Auxiliary member who recruits five (5) new members to the VFW Auxiliary from July 1, 2023, through May 31, 2024. The Department Treasurer must enter membership in MALTA with credit given to the recruiter by June 10, 2024. Lights, Camera, Action! pin will be mailed directly to the member from National Headquarters.
2. National Membership Achievement Award to each VFW and VFW Auxiliary member who recruits 20 new members to the VFW Auxiliary from July 1, 2023, through May 31, 2024. The Department Treasurer must enter membership in MALTA with credit given to the recruiter by June 10, 2024. NMA Award to be presented at the 2024 National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. If a member is not in attendance, the award will be mailed directly to the member from National Headquarters after the National Convention.
3. Lights, Camera, Action! VFW Auxiliary Recruiter Drawing. Each VFW Auxiliary National Membership Achievement Award recipient will be entered into a drawing to receive a $500 Visa Gift Card (VFW Recruiters are not eligible). Recruiter Award Forms are no longer needed for VFW Auxiliary members. Reports are compiled by VFW Auxiliary National Headquarters from information entered in MALTA. VFW members who recruit new VFW Auxiliary members will need to fill out the required VFW members-only form that is available on MALTA Member Resources. Completed form must be received at VFW Auxiliary National Headquarters and Department Treasurer must enter membership in MALTA by June 10, 2024.
- Awards for Auxiliaries:
1. $25 to each Auxiliary that reaches 98% Plus in Membership by March 31, 2024*.
2. $25 to each Auxiliary that reaches 100% Plus in Membership by June 30, 2024*.
3. Lights, Camera, Action! VFW Auxiliary Drawing. Each VFW Auxiliary that reaches 101% Plus by June 30, 2024* will be entered into a one time drawing to receive $500.
- Awards for Department Chairmen:
1. $25 VFW Store gift certificate to one Department Membership Chairman in each of the 10 Program Divisions for the most outstanding training and promotion of the Membership Program.
2. Outstanding Performance Award to one Department Membership Chairman in each of the 10 Program Divisions based on criteria listed on Page 5 and for the promotion of the Program Goals listed at the top of Page 42. Winners will be announced and awards presented at the 2024 National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Awards for Departments:
1. Bronze Department Award #1: $200 to each Department that reaches 95% Plus in Membership by November 30, 2023*.
2. Silver Department Award #2: $250 to each Department that reaches 98% Plus in Membership by March 31, 2024*.
3. Gold Department Award #3: $300 to each Department that reaches 100% Plus in Membership by June 30, 2024*.
4. Platinum Department Award #4: $400 to each Department that reaches 101% Plus in Membership by June 30, 2024*. Departments that receive the Platinum Department Award #4 for $400 will still receive the Gold Department Award #3 for $300 for a combined total of $700.
- Conference vs. Conference:
1. $50 to each Department within the Conference with the highest total percentage by January 31, 2024*.
2. $50 to each Department within the Conference with the highest total percentage by June 30, 2024*
*Based on the June 30, 2023, year-end membership numbers.
Vince Lombardi once said, “The achievements of an organization are the result of the combined effort of each individual.” Let’s continue to honor our Veterans, our Service men and women, their families, our communities, and our organization by keeping our membership current, being involved/active, aking others to join, and “Banding Together” because our membership and service matter to all of them and because alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.
Yours in Service,
Michele M. Brinson
Department of Mississippi