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When Should Your Unit Host an Open House

Posted on June 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Barbara Buckner

Recruiting should be a year-round goal, but there will be “optimal” times of the year to draw in the most members depending on what type of recruiting you are focusing on.  If you want to focus your recruiting efforts, you first should determine when is the right time of year for your Unit to host an Open House.  But, how do you do that?   


Start with asking a couple of questions:

1) Why are you trying to recruit? 

You can better focus your recruiting platform when you have a goal in mind of why you are putting on the Open House.  Think of it like putting out a job ad.  Companies will from time to time put out ads looking for “general labor”…meaning, they are open to all types of applicants.  But, when they need to fill particular spots, they narrow their focus in both their advertisements and their presentations.

2) What type of recruiting do you want to focus on? 

Are you looking to increase the number of cadets, the number of seniors or both?

Don’t recruit just to build a roster.  Remember that once you “recruit” the new member, you automatically have to start working on “retention” so if you bring on too many members at once, you may not be able to get them through the training in a timely manner or have enough to get them involved to keep their attention.

3) When are your Unit’s “prime” activities? 

For example, if the cadets in your Unit tend to be very active in the summer with our various National Cadet Activities, you may not want to recruit new cadets at the end of the school year when you have no senior cadets to teach or mentor the new members.

4) Do you have a plan for your Open House?

Like any event, make sure you have an itinerary, staff to work the events, activities/presentations for the prospective members to take part in and a follow-up plan.  An “Open House” is a sales pitch – putting it in the simplest terms.  Curiosity will get potential members to attend – your presentation and follow up is what will get them to join.

5) When has your Unit had the most success in the past?

This is where looking at your Unit’s Monthly Membership Report will come in very handy.  You will begin to see trends in new memberships versus members leaving the program.  Those trends will both tell you when is the “prime” time your Unit recruits and when it should look at its activity schedule to make sure they are keeping the members engaged.


Let’s say you don’t have a history of membership trends to look at – now what do you do?

While every Unit/Wing/Region will be different, here are the trends we have from a National standpoint showing when membership applications have been processed (data from 2012 to present):

For attracting New Cadets:

Highest enrollment months = March and September

Lowest enrollment months tend to be June and December.

For attracting New Seniors:

Highest enrollment months = February/March and August

Lowest enrollment months tend to be January and October


If your Unit is looking to create a more “flowed” enrollment of members throughout the year, take a look at the lowest enrollment months and see if hosting a second Open House in the year may be an option for your Unit.

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