Since October 2013, National Headquarters has been conducting monthly exit surveys for expired Cadet and Senior members once they have not renewed within the 90 day mark. These surveys include multiple choice options as well as the ability to write in answers to specific questions. The response rate on these exit surveys has varied from 6% to 14% returned responses.
On a quarterly basis, these results are shared with each of the Region and Wing Commanders – including comments that were submitted identifying which Wing but not the individual responding. I don’t know if these survey results are shared with the lower command levels, but I wanted to share a synopsis of these results with everyone….since retention is something everyone needs to be involved in.
This discussion will only share the key information points. In future posts, I will address some of the various responses so that all of us have some ideas on how to approach these issues so that we can address them locally and put a plan in place now to begin to eliminate these shortcomings.
Let me start by saying one thing:
We all know these problems that will be mentioned do exist…for one reason or another. This isn’t to continue to talk about the problems but to work on finding solutions.
The purpose of sharing this information isn’t to point fingers – that does not solve anything – but rather to highlight areas that we need to look at to improve. Some responses were general in nature while others more specific. As you read through this, keep an open mind as to whether or not these responses apply to your Unit or above and start formulating suggestions as to how we can change or improve these points. In future posts, where these responses will be further discussed, is where I would like you to add your suggestions for positive change.
Majority of cadets that leave the program do so between the ages of 15-17 after they have been with the program for 1-2 years. More than half indicated they had only completed Phase I and only 25% indicated completed Phase 2.
When asked how they heard about CAP, half of the responses indicated it was directly through friends. Recruiting events and brochures accounted for less than 10% of the responses. Half the cadets joined because they had an interest in the military while an almost equal number joined because they wanted to learn how to fly. The biggest hurdle these cadets said they faced with CAP versus school was extracurricular activities eating up much of their free time.
The two items that these cadets said we did the best at when welcoming new cadets was recognizing cadets for their achievements and providing detailed information of how to help them earn their first promotion. The favorite activity of more than half the cadets was, of course, orientation flights – the least favorite activity was Aerospace Education
The top 3 reasons why these cadets didn’t renew:
1) No longer interested in CAP
2) Going to college – felt school would take up too much of their time
3) CAP wasn’t what they thought it was going to be
And when asked if they would recommend the CAP Cadet Program to a friend, more than half said they would while 20% said they would not.
Some of the feedback received for us to improve on:
1) Understand that cadets have other activities outside of CAP to dedicate their time to as well
2) Lack of communication – never sure what was happening and when or what was needed to move forward in the program
3) Not enough activities outside drill and testing
4) Too many parents involved as Senior Members and showing favoritism to their kids.
5) Lack of organization – things weren’t planned out and when questions were asked by the parents, they went unanswered
Majority of Seniors that have left the program had been with CAP for 1-4 years and left at the rank of Second Lieutenant. Almost half of the Seniors had only completed Level 1 and less than 20% said they completed Level II.
The biggest reason cited for why they chose not to renew their membership: They did not have a Duty Assignment.
As with the Cadets, the Seniors also indicated they heard about CAP from another CAP member or their child had decided to join. Recruiting events only accounted for about 12% of the responses and less than 1% said they heard of the program from brochures or mailers. About 30% of these members joined because they were pilots and wanted to volunteer as a pilot, another 20% simply wanted to serve the community and the rest either had a child as a Cadet or was former military and wanted to stay involved.
The main reason why these Seniors chose not to renew was that they didn’t feel their time and talents were needed or valued. Poor leadership, lack of missions, and financial reasons were much lesser reasons for not renewing.
While the Cadets rated us as “excellent” when welcoming new members into the Unit, the Seniors only felt we did a “good” job at it. Quality of activities/missions and guidance for Professional Development and promotions were the two areas they saw we needed the greatest improvement.
Almost half of the Seniors indicated they enjoyed working with the cadets the most, followed by emergency service and flying. Professional Development courses they enjoyed the least. While more than half did indicate that they would consider rejoining CAP again the future, they took a neutral stance on how they viewed their overall membership experience, leaning only slightly towards “satisfied.”
Some of the feedback received for us to improve on:
1) Lack of professionalism - too many egos or politics involved
2) Little or no flying opportunities when was told there would be when they joined
3) Poor leadership – higher levels disconnected from the Units
4) Too much paperwork and reporting requirements
5) Lack of training opportunities
To turn things around in regards to Retention, we need to now focus on “re-recruiting” our current members…and that starts with taking what we know now and coming up with ideas that we can put into play right away to begin to improve on those areas that we need to change.