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La Leche League International
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Promoting Membership: It's Our Attitude That Counts Most

Christina DeSchepper
Fays, Belgium
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 36 No. 1, February-March 2000, p. 9

I believe the most important aspect of promoting membership is neither the words we say nor the techniques we use, but rather the attitude behind them. Many Leaders feel uneasy "asking" mothers to support La Leche League financially. If we feel as though we're asking for some unreasonable sum of money, then that attitude comes through and our message is less convincing. Yet each contribution to LLL is used honestly and efficiently to continue reaching more and more mothers while improving the quality of our services, and that's nothing to be ashamed of!

Here are some ideas to help boost your confidence in encouraging mothers to support La Leche League:

  • Regularly remind yourself how financial contributions are used (in the Group, Area, Affiliate/Division and LLLI) and how this directly benefits mothers and babies.

  • Avoid seeing yourself as the person "on the other side of the counter," who's selling something. Instead, put yourself on the same level as the other mothers, asking them to join hands with you in helping mothers and babies. After all, you too are a mother who supports LLL financially as well as many other ways!

  • When talking about membership (subscription), you don't always have to spell out in detail the tangible advantages for the member. Why not make a statement about the real reasons for paying membership (helping LLL to continue offering quality support and information to breastfeeding mothers), followed very simply by "Members receive NEW BEGINNINGS, as well as several other benefits" (and pass around a copy). Enumerating all the advantages of membership may sound like a sales gimmick. Mothers who join LLL in exchange for personal benefits may not remain members for as long as those who contribute for the good of all.

  • Consider that a "please help us" type of message may turn people off or make them feel pressured.

  • Keep in mind that feelings of solidarity are common among people who share certain values or interests. This attitude of solidarity can be enough to motivate a mother to join LLL.

  • Mothers who have benefited from the help and information LLL provides will recognize the need for our services. They need to know that although LLL Leaders are volunteers and our services are offered for free, they do cost money, and LLL depends on the financial support of members to be able to continue this work.

  • Remember that the membership fee is mother-sized, making it attainable for most people, especially considering the amount of money mothers save by breastfeeding. A membership is worth so much more than the amount of money it represents!

  • In Belgium, we offer the possibility to pay membership on a monthly basis, which many mothers prefer. The advantage is that members don't have to be reminded to renew as the payment continues until the mother takes the step to discontinue her membership. Therefore, mothers tend to remain members for a long time. Perhaps this option exists in other countries as well.

  • What about those who, despite all the reasons why they might support us, decide not to do so? We must recognize and accept that there are also reasons why some mothers in contact with LLL do not support our organization financially. When a mother feels that we respect the choices she makes, she'll probably be more receptive to the needs of LLL.

  • Just as many mothers we meet understand and agree with the value of our ideas and put them into practice, many will see the value of LLL and be willing to invest in our organization in various ways, including membership.

  • If we are confident of the importance of supporting LLL, then many mothers we encounter will be, too!

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