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Attendance and Membership Are Linked

Nancy Finney
Shoreview, Minnesota, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 5, October-November 1999, p. 119

When we think about improving Group attendance or Group membership, it's a good idea to keep in mind that the two are linked. One way to advance Group membership is to increase Group attendance and once the Group has more members, attendance will go up. Here are a few thoughts on improving both.

Good publicity is a key to good attendance.

  • Does the Group have a clean, readable meeting notice? There are so many wonderful things that LLL has to offer new mothers that it can be tempting to try to cram a lot of information onto the meeting notice. The new mother, however, is basically looking for meeting time, location and how to contact the Leaders. Keep the meeting notice simple.

  • Consider having a Group Publicity job. This can be a fun, mother- sized job for an enthusiastic member. She can go out and find new places to post the meeting notice and put ads in the local newspaper after approval by your District Advisor.

  • Make sure members have access to meeting notices. Are they mailed to members regularly? Available at meetings? Remember, Group members are the best publicity. Make sure members have an up-to-date meeting notice when they want to share LLL information with a pregnant friend or a mother with a new baby.

Attendance: When a mother comes to a meeting, make sure she wants to come back!

  • Personally greet each new mother and spend a few moments chatting with her at the beginning of the meeting. (Ask her about her baby. How old is he? Is this her first? How is breastfeeding going? Will she be staying home or returning to work?)

  • Show her the Group Library and how to check out a book, where the refreshments are and how to get a nametag. Help her to her seat.

  • Give her a new mother packet. When putting the packet together, think of the things you would like this mother to know about LLL if she heard absolutely nothing at the meeting! Be sure the packet includes:

    Information about LLL;
    How to contact a Leader;
    Meeting location, day, time;
    Membership benefits;
    Basic breastfeeding information.
  • After the meeting, be sure to thank the new mother for coming and see her to the door.

  • A day or two after the meeting, call the mother and ask her if she has any questions. You can send a postcard instead, but taking the time to personally call the mother and ask her how she is doing is much more effective!

  • Make sure to mail meeting reminder cards or phone before the next meeting.

Membership: becoming "one of the group"

There are several important reasons why we as La Leche League Leaders ask mothers who attend our meetings to become members.

Membership (subscription) provides funds for the Group, Area and LLLI; increases mother participation in LLL; and indeed, guarantees the continuation of LLL. When you think of how you will present membership, I suggest you focus on the benefits of membership to the mother. When a mother becomes a member of LLLI, she becomes one of the group. She receives the regular support of NEW BEGINNINGS, even if she doesn't attend meetings regularly. Most importantly, she is more apt to breastfeed longer. It is in the best interests of the mother to become a member of LLLI.

Here are some thoughts on presenting membership:

  • Have a Leader (not a member) make the membership pitch. A Leader is better motivated.

  • Point out that the Group and LLLI are supported by memberships. Many mothers nowadays are no longer familiar with nonprofit groups. It may not occur to them that we are not "government funded. "

  • Let them know that when they support LLLI, they are helping mothers in their area and all over the world to breastfeed. You may want to mention specific examples of how LLL and you as a Leader help mothers and babies.

  • Highlight new library books, etc., bought with membership funds.

  • At the end of the meeting, remind mothers again how they can become members.

Consider appointing a Treasurer or Assistant Treasurer to be available to take checks (cheques) and answer questions about membership after the meeting. Give her a special nametag/button. Point her out at the end of the meeting and ask her to stay in a prominent spot (maybe seated at a special table?) so mothers can easily purchase memberships.

Once a mother has purchased a membership, be sure to recognize her contribution to the Group and LLL. In doing so, you show that you appreciate her joining the Group, as well as let the attendees know that other mothers are purchasing memberships. Here are some ideas:

  • Have special membership nametags/buttons.

  • Have a space to indicate interest in membership in the sign-in sheet. Encourage mothers who have already joined to write "member" in the space.

  • Have a small membership gift to hand to new members with a "thank you" during the next meeting.

  • Consider making other meetings (Couple, Toddler, Enrichment, etc.) open to members only.

If a mother doesn't join on her own after a few meetings, what can you do? Some mothers may respond better to a personal invitation to join; ask her at the next meeting or call her between meetings. Thank her for coming to meetings and mention how much you've enjoyed her contributions to the meeting discussion before asking her to join.

If the mother hasn't purchased a membership by the following meeting and the Group can afford it, consider offering her a membership payment plan or a membership scholarship. If you do offer her a payment plan or scholarship, follow up your phone call with a letter outlining her options so that she has time to think about them before the next meeting.

All mothers deserve the opportunity to become members of La Leche League. If we make that opportunity available, mothers will join and La Leche League will flourish.

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