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A Kaleidoscope of Membership Ideas

Connie Boord
Brooklyn Park MN USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. , October-November 2001, p. 115

The theme for the LLLI Conference held in Chicago, Illinois, USA this past July was "A Kaleidoscope of Family, Friends, and Cultures." Attending it was a wonderfully exciting experience. So much to do, see, hear, and learn! The best part was meeting Leaders from all around the world! What a great opportunity to gather membership ideas for the "Promoting Membership" column. From the airport shuttle ride to the hotel, to the banquet on the last night of the Conference, Leaders shared their ideas with me.

Many Leaders told me that they enjoy reading this column for membership promotion ideas from other Leaders. They appreciate the opportunity to learn from their peers. The more ideas, the more ways to try increasing membership in their Groups!

Marcia Lutostanski, presently leading a Group in Houston, Texas, USA has lived in many different countries including Brazil, Malaysia, and Japan. She knows firsthand the importance of being a part of a group. By joining La Leche League, mothers can feel that they belong, no matter where they live and attend LLL. Marcia also tells them, "If you appreciated what LLL has given you and you'd like someone else to benefit, please join our organization."

Jessica Pemberton and her co-Leaders, Susan Zamora and Laurie Bryen, from the Lodi Group in California, USA tell mothers "what is great about being an LLL member" and enumerate the many benefits. They use a visual during their meetings that shows the membership fee divided into 12 smaller monthly amounts. Mothers brainstorm different ways to save money from the family budget to purchase a membership. For example: cooking at home instead of eating at restaurants, shortening long distance calls by a few minutes, and comparing the cost of one month of formula feeding to breastfeeding.

Purchasing a membership should be made easy, according to Lynne Stone of Staten Island, New York, USA. An addressed envelope (to the Group Treasurer or Leader) is included in the materials given to each new mother attending the meeting. This is a gentle reminder that mothers are expected to become members. The sign-in attendance sheet includes a column to check membership status.

Alicia Rudin of Gainesville, Florida, USA uses a pie chart during the meeting to show how membership money is spent. Part of the money goes toward a subscription to NEW BEGINNINGS, part goes to helping La Leche League International, and part stays with the Group to purchase Library books or help other mothers. Alicia asks mothers, "If you have been helped by LLL at a meeting or by phone, please consider joining."

Eleanor Emerson, a Leader in Berlin, Germany, offers a "member letter" to mothers who join, as well as a 10 percent discount on items ordered. Due to the high cost of mailing, a subscription to NEW BEGINNINGS is not usually a benefit of the membership fee in most European countries.

Susan Pecyna, Leader of the Glen Ellen Group in Illinois, USA reminds mothers that LLL Leaders are volunteers. Not only are Leaders not paid, but they pay for memberships themselves. Her co-Leader, Rose Hubbard, encourages membership by comparing this cost to the cost of a doctor's visit. Breastfed babies are healthier and if a mother learns information at an LLL meeting that saves her the expense of going to the doctor for just two visits, the membership has saved her money. These Leaders also stress that mothers who feel welcome at meetings are more likely to join LLL.

Carroll Beckham of the Fayetteville AM, North Carolina, USA Group spotlights new members by handing out membership cards and logo stickers to those mothers at the next meeting after joining. (Editor's note: LLLI now mails membership cards to mothers who become members. A Group announcement can be made to highlight those mothers who joined the previous month.)

Buying books that are currently listed on the LLLI Bibliography in bulk or "on sale" as bookstore clearance items, or from garage sales, is another suggestion from Carroll. These books can be discounted for sale as an incentive when a mother pays her membership fee.

Pilar Arteaga from Col Marte, Mexico uses a poster to advertise the benefits of membership, for example, the use of the Library and special discounts. She "sells" memberships at the end of meetings, after mothers have had an opportunity to learn some facts about LLL and breastfeeding. If Pilar receives a monetary donation to the Group, she uses the money to purchase memberships for mothers who would not otherwise be able to join. Partial scholarships can be offered to mothers who find it difficult to pay the entire amount.

Debbie Horwitz, Germantown, Maryland, USA, suggests that mothers attend as many Group meetings as possible. She asks mothers to share what they most liked about each meeting. Debbie reminds mothers that they give back to the Group by purchasing a membership and by sharing their ideas with the other mothers.

Kristen Morse of the Arlington AM Group in Virginia, USA displayed a copy of NEW BEGINNINGS at the first meeting she led and told mothers that membership helps them and the Group. Three membership dues were paid that same evening.

Barb Gabbit Bacon from West Wichita, Kansas, USA reminds mothers that parents don't hesitate to spend more than the membership amount for layette and baby items that are used only for a short time (such as a crib or swing). La Leche League membership continues to help mothers while they are breastfeeding, and continues to help other mothers as well.

Another idea from Barb is to "sweeten the pot " Having a previous member make out her check (cheque) during a meeting to renew her own membership might be an added incentive or reminder for others to do the same.

Michelle Koppany of the Great Falls AM and PM Group of Montana, USA purchases small items at the bookstore and exhibits at LLLI or Area Conferences to give to mothers in her Group as an incentive to purchase a membership. Michelle suggests that the Leader in the Group who is most comfortable and enthusiastic about asking for memberships be the one to make the "membership spiel." The words and attitude used in advertising membership make a difference in the mothers' response. Her Group uses the "Membership Matters" poster and materials (Available from LLLI, Item Numbers 416-20; 417-20; and 418-13)

A reminder comes from Connie Little of Bilbao, Spain to refer to the LEADER'S HANDBOOK for ideas in promoting membership (pages 164-66 and 295-96). Leaders may sometimes forget to use the basic LLL resources.

What a wealth of ideas from Leaders all over the world. Don't wait until the next Conference in 2003 in San Francisco, California, USA to share yours. Do it now!

Share how YOU promote membership by writing to: Connie Boord, 4417-78th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, Minnesota 55443-3405 USA or cboord at earthlink.net (email).

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