A famous musician was once asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”, to which he replied “Practice, Practice.” To paraphrase the question a little, “How do you get to your 100% membership goal?” The answer is “Ask, Ask.” You may wonder what I mean by “Ask, Ask.”
Any time you see a car with Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine, Honorably Discharged Veteran or “We Support Our Troops” license plates, take a minute and ask the driver, “are you a veteran? if the answer is yes, then ask, “are you a member of the American Legion?” If the answer is no, sign the person up. If the person is not a veteran, ask if their father, mother, or grandfather was a veteran. If the answer is yes sign them up in the Sons of the American Legion or the American Legion Auxiliary.
When you see someone with a military branch of service cap or jacket, ask them the question: Are you a veteran? Are you a member of the American Legion?
If you see someone flying the American Flag, a Blue Star or a Gold Star Banner at their house, stop and ask the question: Are you a Veteran? Are you a member of the American Legion?
If you are standing in line somewhere and you overhear a comment like “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” ask the question “Are you a member of the American Legion?”
I know, you are saying to your self “Is this guy nuts, I don’t even know these people.” To which I must reply, I’m not nuts, at least I’m not certified as a nut case. If you don’t know these people, so what, you can’t be embarrassed, because they don’t know you, and you don’t know them. The worst that can happen is that they think you are a stressed out veteran. The best that can happen, is you make new friends for life, you recruit a member into the American Legion, your Post achieves 100% of their membership goal, and you and your new friend have something to laugh about down the road when your new friend tells someone else how they became a member of the American Legion.
These approach techniques are quite simple and once you get over the fear of asking that first person “Are you a veteran?,” it becomes very easy to ask the next possible American Legion applicant “Are you a veteran?” or “are you a member of the American Legion?”
Now you are saying to yourself, I have recruited my first new member my job is done. No it isn’t. Fortunately the hard work is over, and now the fun begins, if the new Legionnaire is to become a member of your POST, YOU need to take them to a meeting and introduce them to the other members of your Post. If you make them feel welcome and wanted, they will become a productive member of your Post.
How do I make my new member feel welcome and wanted? There are as many answers to this question as there are members in the American Legion, but it all boils down to finding a program that is of interest to the new member or provides them with a sense of belonging or gratification. The “Honor Guard” is a great place to make a new member feel wanted, needed and an important part of honoring those who have transferred to Post Everlasting.
You should ensure that YOUR new member gets his free insurance policy and sends it in, he or she should also be given the brochures, YOU HAVE A FRIEND IN THE AMERICAN LEGION, YOUR AMERICAN LEGION and SAL BENEFITS, a BENEFITS WALLET CARD, and WHY YOU SHOULD BELONG TO THE AMERICAN LEGION. If you get YOUR new member this valuable information, you have just done your new friend a great service and you are a very knowledgeable person in his or her eyes. I know, you are thinking, all of these brochures are great and the District and Department Officers have them, but I’m just a legionnaire, where would I get all that stuff? First, and most importantly, no one is just a legionnaire; the American Legion exists because of, and for, the blue hat members of the American Legion. Second, where do I get all those brochures? Ask your Post Adjutant, Post Commander or Post Membership Director. If they don’t have them, they can ask the Department Headquarters for them and Headquarters will send them to your Post.
Now its time to have YOUR new member initiated into the American Legion. Once the Initiation Ceremony is completed, your new member needs to receive their Membership Card, Membership Pin and Initiation Certificate.
Now you are asking how do I get the current members to re-new their membership? The answer is, see the above paragraph.
If each of you would please go out and recruit just one new member, Your Post would double in size, you would have twice as many friends in the American Legion, there would be more legionnaires to socialize with, more members to work the fund raisers and programs, the Post would be over 100% of its membership goal, the Post would receive a 100% membership streamer for their flag, and a certificate commerating the success, your District would double in size, the Department of Colorado would have over 50,000 members, the American Legion would have more leverage when we lobby for veterans benefits, and I would stop calling your District and Post Commanders asking them to work on new members, and we all could get onto the fun part of being a member of the world’s largest wartime veterans organization. All of these great things will happen just because each one of you recruits ONE new member into the American Legion.