Comrades. In our last Membership Focus email, we discussed the importance of getting out to events in your area to provide a VFW presence and recruit veterans in the community.
As of today, the VFW is 33,563 members behind where we were at this time last year. One of the biggest sources of this decline in membership is the lack of retention at the local Post level. Members are allowing their dues to expire for various reasons, and we are watching the organization shrink as a result.
In the words of our Adjutant General, Brian Duffy – “The simple fact is, the VFW must increase the strength of our membership to maintain the level of support and advocacy those we serve deserve from our storied organization. As leaders, I’m relying on you to make this happen.”
When we tell veterans why they should belong to the VFW, we talk about the services we offer – veterans’ claim assistance, help for military families in need, and the camaraderie that comes with being part of an organization of veterans who’ve shared the same experiences. To make those services a reality, we need active members in our Posts going out and continuing the VFW mission.
There is no reason in the year 2017 for a Post to not be taking full advantage of the tools available to them through the Online Membership System. A Commander or Quartermaster cannot say that they were unaware that their members were falling through the cracks when they have an up-to-date roster showing when their continuous members’ dues are expiring.
A common complaint we hear at the National level is “Well, our Quartermaster doesn’t use the computer…” – comrades, we are nearly two decades into the 21st century. The attitude of “Well, I’m not going to learn how to use the primary and most common method of communication in the world” is not the attitude we should have. The Adjutant General has given us our marching orders – increase membership, use the tools that are available, work those unpaid lists, get our membership numbers up. It is no longer the time to make excuses or give reasons why our Posts are shrinking. It is the time to do what must be done: recruit and retain.
District Commanders – it is on you to ensure that every one of your Post Commanders and Quartermasters is making full use of the Online Membership System and the tools available. Every time we look at our membership numbers and we see a decline, that means more and more of our fellow veterans are falling through the cracks and not being given the honor and service they are due.
To anyone who thinks they’ve done enough, they’ve met the standards and that should be all that is required; I challenge you to look at Commander-in-Chief Keith Harman’s slogan for his membership year – SERVICE, NOT SELF. We are here to serve our veterans, and that requires a strong membership base.
If you need assistance – materials, training, instruction – contact your chain of command and we will make sure you have the tools for success. Only through dedicated effort are we going to stall this decline and begin the path to a growing membership and a stronger organization. We need each and every one of us to make it happen.
In addition, under the Membership Recruiting and Retention page – http://www.vfw.org/my-vfw/vfw-training-and-support/membership-recruiting-and-retention – you can find training videos, webinars, as well as downloadable forms, brochures, and posters. If you need it, we will most likely have it available on the website for you or you can order it from the Membership Department. You can contact us Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30 Central time, at 1-888-564-6839 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VFW Membership Department
Ph: 1-888-JOIN-VFW (888-564-6839)
Good afternoon, comrades. In our last Membership Focus email, we covered how important it is to ensure that VFW officers do not allow their memberships to lapse; this week we’re going to turn our focus outwards to events in your local communities.
We are four months into the 2017-2018 membership year and comparing our numbers to this point last year, we are 31,000 members behind. Obviously our focus must be on recruiting and retention to counteract this decline. The strength of the VFW and our ability to continue our mission to serve our fellow veterans depends on our membership numbers remaining strong, and it is the duty of all VFW members to assist in that challenge.
Our Director of Membership, Rick Butler, has communicated via email and at various conferences and training events that the National Membership Department is here to support your efforts to meet the membership goals. In the past few months, we have assisted our Posts and Departments with booth rental space at events where we deal with veterans in the community, with material support for these events, and with training classes to ensure that our VFW leaders and recruiters have the most up-to-date tools available to succeed.
We are asking you, at all levels of VFW leadership from Post to Department, to look at upcoming events in your state or local area. If you feel there is an event that would draw a good-sized crowd to include fellow veterans and their families, please consider looking into having a presence at the event.
During the winter months, there are few large national or veteran-specific events – but you will often see events such as car and RV shows, gun shows, home improvement and outdoor shows, various trade shows and conventions, as well as local events such as county fairs, Veterans Day events, and the like. If you require assistance with potential booth space fees or materials needed to establish a VFW presence at these events, please let us know.
In addition, we’re asking all of our District Commanders to visit with all their Post Commanders to come up with a plan to reconnect with our Unpaid and Lapsed members. These individuals already have a connection with the VFW, they are the easiest group to contact and show them what your Post is doing and why they should rekindle their involvement and renew their membership. Your Department can provide you with a list of members-at-large in your area that you can contact as well to help strengthen your Post.
Also, we cannot stress enough that our Post and Department Quartermasters need to be using the Online Membership System (OMS) tools that are available to them. When our members go out and recruit using the Mobile Recruiter App on their mobile devices, that prospective new member should be contacted promptly by the Post Quartermaster. If they sit in the online queue for more than 15 days, a notice is sent to the Department Quartermaster for action.
Comrades, in the past four months the National Headquarters has had to step in for over three dozen potential members who had been prospected through the Mobile Recruiter App with absolutely no action from their Post or Department Quartermasters. The tools are there, the training is there, and we expect our leadership to be making use of them.
Finally, in our membership workshops that we conduct across the country and in our regular online webinars that are archived in the Training and Support section of the VFW website, we emphasize the need to mentor our current and new members in order to retain them. Connect with your members, engage them with your Post activities and the greater VFW mission, and develop the kind of relationships that will strengthen our membership and through that, the Veterans of Foreign Wars as a whole.
We are YOUR Membership team – we are here for you and we stand ready to assist you in your departments in reaching 100% of your membership goal for the 2017-18 year. Please let us know how we can help you reach your goals.
In addition, under the Membership Recruiting and Retention page – http://www.vfw.org/my-vfw/vfw-training-and-support/membership-recruiting-and-retention – you can find training videos, webinars, as well as downloadable forms, brochures, and posters. If you need it, we will most likely have it available on the website for you or you can order it from the Membership Department.
VFW Membership Department
Ph: 1-888-JOIN-VFW (888-564-6839)