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Say "No" To That Potential New Member

Posted on 07/24/2014 at 12:00 AM by Barbara Buckner

You hold an Open House....you attend a Recruiting Event....you get all excited that you have this list of potential new members!
Your Unit needs to add new members to help it grow and assume staff positions.

So, why would I tell you to "say no" to a potential new member? 

Because the focus should be on "quality" not "quantity" when it comes to growing our membership. 

When Units recruit - they focus on adding members to their roster.  We need more members, right?  We have staff positions to fill, programs to try and run, and missions needing trained members to carry out.  Why would we want to turn away someone because we felt we had a bad impression of them or felt that they wouldn't fit in?  Because...not everyone is the right fit for Civil Air Patrol.

When Recruiting, we have to remember that its more than just increasing our membership - its increasing our presence in our communities which is a direct result of how we brand ourselves and what type of publicity we create. 

We hear the word "branding" all the time in the corporate world...what does that mean for CAP? 

The exact same thing: what do we stand for, what are we known for, and what do people think about when they hear "Civil Air Patrol."   What is our "Reputation"....our "Legacy"...to put it simply. When it comes to new members and your Unit, its not the national reputation for Civil Air Patrol that people will only think about (Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs or Emergency Services)...it will be what they think of your Unit based on what experience they have had or what they have heard.

I spoke to a Wing Commander recently who put it this way: "Just like everyone is a Safety Officer, whether or not it is your official position, everyone is also a Recruiter." 

The minute you put on that uniform and attend a CAP function, you are advertising for CAP and leaving an impression for future members. 

Don't think so? 

Stop and think about the last time you saw volunteers from other organizations (such as Scouts):

  • Did you look to see how they were wearing their uniform?
  • Did you take note of how the adult members treated each other and the kids in the program?
  • Did you make a note as to what type of language they used when commincating - was it professional or too laid back (even to the point of using profanity)? 
  • Did you make a judgment call on what that Unit must be like because of that first impression?

Now do you see?  We have all been guilty of doing it - so don't feel bad...but understand now how it relates to the members that we allow to join CAP.

Just because someone wants to join Civil Air Patrol, doesn't mean that they should. 

When we invite potential new members to attend three Unit meetings before they join so that they can "see if CAP is a fit for them," we should also be doing the same back.  How will this person be perceived by other members in the Unit, by parents of the cadets, by the public when we are out at activities or on missions?

Try looking at it this way:
When you go on a job interview, don't you observe the office setting, what the employees are wearing, how they are acting, etc. as a factor in deciding whether or not you want to work there?

When you go to check out a new school for your child, don't you pay attention to how the teachers are conducting themselves, how the students are acting, how organized they seem to be in keeping order and discipline, etc.?

Its not easy to tell someone who wants to volunteer that they aren't a fit for your Unit or Civil Air Patrol, but also realize that having the wrong people as members of your Unit will also deter future members away, companies will think twice about donating to your Unit or inviting you Unit on tours of their facility...not to mention the impression we may leave with our military partners when visiting their bases or participating in training opportunities with them.

Recruiting and Retention work hand in hand...let's make sure we are recruiting the right type of people so that our members will want to remain a part of our organization for years to come.

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