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Recruiting Challenge: Fiscal Year 2014/2015

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Barbara Buckner

 “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

- John F. Kennedy


During the Recruiting & Retention seminar at the 2014 National Conference, I posed a challenge to the participants at the end of the presentation:


1) As a Unit, set a goal to recruit 2 new members a month

2) As a Member, set a goal to talk to 2 new people each week to share your story…why YOU joined Civil Air Patrol – not to “pitch” joining


Now let’s talk about how to make that happen…


I started this with President Kennedy’s quote because I think its something we forget to do when it comes to recruiting.  We simply set out to try and recruit new members without a plan of action in place.  If we don’t have a goal in mind, how can we ever work to achieve it or – even better – measure the success of our efforts?


So…for fiscal year 2014/2015, let’s collectively make it a goal to recruit 2 new members to our Unit each month.  


That gives each Unit the month of September to put together a game plan to start.  Objectives are achieved when you have a goal to focus on so…target that number! If you recruit more than that, great!...but focus on at least getting 2.  If we keep that goal in mind, you will have grown your Unit by 24 members in a year’s time.  


If you are a Group or Wing level RRO, keep in touch with your Units to see if they are staying on target.  Check in to see if they need help with ideas, resources, etc.  


Why focus on only 2 people when we need more to help staff our Units?  


Because we also have to make sure that we are able to integrate them into CAP quickly and effectively within their first 90days so that they will continue their membership past the first year.  If we try to take on more members at once, we run the risk of letting things fall through the cracks, the “personal attention” new members need dies away and the steps in the Cadet and Senior “Great Start” books get overlooked.  


Remember – two biggest complaints we have had from members that leave is:

1) lack of communication of how they are to progress and 

2) not feeling valued.


But…HOW do we do this?


Remember I said to have each member set a goal to talk to 2 new people every week and share their story of why they joined CAP?  That’s because over 50% of our membership has stated that they joined because of: Word of mouth.  If you have to “talk” someone into joining, then we may not really be the right fit for them – and down the line they will realize it and quit.  If we share our personal story, and if they truly have an interest, it will ignite their curiosity to learn more…and that’s when we invite them to a meeting to learn more and see CAP in action for themselves.


Other things that every Unit can do, right now, to start working towards this:

1) Create an internal contest for your Unit.  

Talk about this new goal and how we want everyone to participate.

For Cadets to receive the Recruiter ribbon, tell them that they not only have to bring a new member into the Unit to receive credit towards their ribbon, but that the new member must successfully achieve their Curry first – and that its their job to help them do that.  

For Seniors, the Recruiter Ribbon is less of an incentive so you can create a little competition with a monthly rank posting of who has recruited the most people that month and get it up on your Unit’s Facebook page, in a newsletter or just in a simple email the members of the Unit.


2) Work with your Public Affairs Officer (if you don’t have one, find the most creative writer in your Unit) and create a “press release” that announces your Unit to the area, what CAP is and what your Unit is doing in the community with contact information so they can learn more…don’t forget that part!

Take you new “press release” and send it out to: local newspapers, government offices, Air Force Recruiter offices, Chamber of Commerce, VFW & American Legion posts, EAA Young Eagle groups, schools….etc.  

Get on Facebook and “post” your release to local news and radio station Community pages for free publicity to their audience...just remember to include a photo to grab their attention!


3) Plan and schedule an Open House for your Unit for October.

If you don’t feel your Unit is large enough to host one by yourself, combine efforts with another Unit (or have your Group host it).  

Plan activities for it: demonstrations for ES, Cadet Programs, AE…things that your audience can take part in so that they can, right away, see if they feel part of the group.

Have photos on display of activities your Unit has participated in over the last year…and create a PowerPoint to show plans your Unit has for activities for the coming year.


4) On a school board or have Parent/Teacher night coming up: Talk to local teachers about CAP and how they can become an AE Member.  

Nationwide, we only did 200 TOP Flights for teachers last year – only 200!…that means we aren’t really talking to teachers.  

Teachers can use the free materials we provide for the ACE program in their classrooms for grades K-6.  Students aren’t eligible to join CAP yet, but…it may get them interested so when they turn 12, they will want to join.


5) Local radio stations will provide not-for-profits with a free 30sec radio slot once a month – reach out to yours and find out the process to apply.


Remember, every plan you put in place will be slow to get going in the beginning so don’t give up!  Ask for feedback and tweak your strategy each month as you go along, adding ideas and activities or deleting others, until you have a plan in place for a recruiting idea for each month.


As you want to grow and expand your recruiting efforts, make sure you have an “on-boarding” process in place for your new members – even if you can’t assign someone as a mentor, use the Great Start as a monthly checklist to make sure we can getting everyone through the essentials to keep their interest during those critical first 90 days.


And most of all, don’t forget to share your success stories with the rest of us so others can learn and benefit from what worked for you!


Maj Barb Buckner

National Recruiting & Retention Officer

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