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Back to the Basics

Connie Boord
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 2, April-May 1999, p. 44

The five basic responsibilities of an LLL Leader, as listed in the LEADER'S HANDBOOK, 1998 edition, are to help mothers one-to-one, lead monthly Series Meetings, manage the local Group, keep up-to-date and help mothers become Leaders. Promoting membership is not one of the five included in the list, but we all know how important it is!

Where would we be if Leaders didn't take an active role in encouraging mothers to become members? LLL would have a difficult time existing without membership dues. Groups would not be as dynamic without members. Mothers couldn't be accredited as Leaders if they weren't first encouraged to become members. La Leche League needs members, just as our members need La Leche League.

Many Leaders feel that they are so busy helping mothers with breastfeeding, leading meetings and managing Group activities that they have no time to help raise funds. However, every organization needs money to function and provide services. Common methods of raising hinds are to solicit through direct mailings, telemarket, sell products, canvas door-to-door and advertise. These methods may be effective, but they can be costly and time consuming. Some Leaders feel that fundraising takes time away from our mission.

Promoting membership is a simple, time-effective way to provide a large portion of the finances necessary to keep our organization running. Many of the following ideas have been shared between Leaders, discussed at Chapter Meetings and Area Conferences as well as written about in LEAVEN, the LEADER'S HANDBOOK and Area Leaders' Letters. Leaders who have used the ideas find that they take little time away from their first priority, helping mothers to breastfeed. Let's get back to the basics: the tried and true methods of encouraging mothers to join La Leche League.

  • Personally welcome each mother to the meeting. Learn the names of new mothers and babies attending each meeting.
  • Create an atmosphere of acceptance, respect, understanding and enthusiasm at meetings. Make each mother feel welcome and let her know that you are glad she came. Compliment a mother for contributing to the discussion.
  • Mention membership at each meeting. Introduce the Treasurer and let mothers know that she will be available after the meeting for those who wish to pay or renew. Make sure items for sale, receipt book, membership cards, and other Treasurer supplies are "ready for business."
  • Vary the approach used to promote membership. Instead of mentioning membership during the opening of the meeting, try waiting until the end. This technique allows a new mother the chance to enjoy a lively meeting and experience how LLL can benefit her before being asked to respond.
  • Use Membership Matters tear-off sheets (No. 459a) and Member-Get-A-Member coupons (No. 459b) available from LLLI for the cost of postage. (These may not be available in some Affiliates.)
  • Offer an installment plan for paying membership if paying in full seems difficult for mothers in the Group.
  • Publicly thank mothers who became members the month before by presenting each new member with her card at the next meeting. Ask mothers to share why they decided to become members.
  • Tell how membership helps both the Group and LLLI as a whole. Let mothers know that Leaders are volunteers, pay dues themselves and do not profit from the sale of memberships.
  • Present a mother with a list of the books in the Group Library along with her membership card when she pays her dues.
  • Allow members to help decide which new books from the LLLI Bibliography (No.460) should be added to the Group Library.
  • Suggest LLL membership as a gift possibility for a member to give a friend. Encourage mothers to bring a friend to the next meeting.
  • Make a poster listing the benefits of membership and display it at each meeting. (Ideas are suggested in the "Promoting Membership" column LEAVEN, Oct /Nov 1998, page 98.)
  • Stress to the mothers that Group meetings belong to them. Mother-to-mother sharing is paramount in La Leche League.
  • Send a thank-you note or call first-time attendees the week following the meeting. Ask if they have any questions that weren't answered. Refer to something positive the mother said or did during the meeting and invite her to the next meeting. A few days before the next Series Meeting, make a reminder call to mothers who attended for the first time the previous month.
  • Remind mothers, by phone or mail, when their membership expires and ask if they would like to renew.
  • Ask mothers who call for information if they'd like some additional mother-to-mother support and invite them to a meeting. When sending written information to the mothers who call, include a letter with a return envelope to make it easier to return a donation or membership check (cheque).

These are simple, basic ideas for promoting membership. Most Leaders find they do not need to spend a lot of time and energy fundraising. Leaders may want to choose one or more of the above suggestions to implement each month. Try getting "back to the basics" when it comes to promoting membership.

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