Retention is as Important as Recruiting
Imagine you're trying to fill a bucket with water. Every drop you put in should increase it's contents, but if there's a leak then you may end up losing more water than you gain. Think of the membership in your council in the same way – every new Knight you add won't help your membership increase and grow stronger if you lose existing members. Use the information from the pages to the right to help develop your council’s retention efforts.
The growth of the Knights of Columbus depends not only on recruiting new members, but also on retaining current ones. These retention efforts for new members begin once he joins the Order. In addition efforts must be made to retain longstanding members and to keep them enthusiastic about the Order. Below is some information on starting your council's membership retention efforts. Also, at the bottom of this page is a table of links to other information your council can use in retaining members.
Retention efforts must start immediately after the First Degree has been conferred on a new member. Encourage the new member to take the Second and Third degrees as soon as possible. Establish a "welcoming committee" of several council members to provide the member and his family with information on the council, show them around the council's facilities and answer questions they may have. Present the new member with a baseball cap or T-shirt emblazoned with the Order's emblem and the council number. A new Knight's proposer should introduce him to other council members, help make him feel at home and inform him of the dates and times for council meetings and activities. Establish a car pool to bring new (and old) members to meetings. Also, as soon as the First Degree is over, get new members interested in earning the “Shining Armor Award” to help their knowledge and involvement in the Order grow.
Use the Admission Committee Questionnaire section of the Form 100 to find out the interests of new members. Giving a new Knight responsibilities and assigning him to program committees helps him feel that he is an important part of the council. Use the Member Interest Survey (Use this link to print out copies of the survey to distribute to your members to determine what programs council members wish to pursue.) The survey gives members the opportunity to list their preferences for possible committee assignments and indicate the areas that they find exciting, challenging and promising. There is also space for members to express their thoughts on how to improve existing programs. Ask them to also list new programs they think the council should conduct.
Establish a retention committee to examine reasons why Knights become inactive and let their membership lapse. This committee plans programs to conserve the council's membership and anticipate and solve problems that may cause membership suspensions. The deputy grand knight should be named to the position of retention chairman and his committee be composed of the council's trustees. After discovering problems, the committee should work with council officers to remedy them.
The financial secretary should provide the retention committee with a list of members in danger of being suspended. Contact these members and discuss their reasons for being inactive. Urge them to become active again. The financial secretary can also furnish a list of suspended members. Contact former Knights who still meet membership eligibility requirements and ask them to rejoin.
Keep council meetings interesting and relevant. If a member asks himself, "Why am I here?" then something is wrong. Start meetings on time and keep discussions, comments, etc., within proper limits. The grand knight should refer any nonessential matters to the appropriate committees. Hold meetings on a night convenient to most members. Allow all members to voice their opinions in an orderly way and try to keep meetings open and relaxed.
The flyer "Responsibilities of Grand Knight" (#1937) explains the guidelines for conducting a council meeting. Grand knights should also be familiar with parliamentary procedure. The booklet How to Conduct a Meeting: Parliamentary Procedure (#438) is also helpful.
Encourage a free exchange of ideas on council programs and business during council meetings, but make sure the council remains focused on the issues under discussion. If possible, complete the business portion of the meeting within an hour.
Another way to help retain members is personal follow-up. Let a member know he is missed the first time he fails to attend a meeting or event. Forward a "We missed you at the meeting" postcard message. Call him on the telephone or write a personal note at the bottom of the next meeting notice.
Marked decline in meeting attendance and committee involvement among formerly active members is a sign of lost interest. Although these members may have compelling reasons for reducing the amount of time they give, do not give up on them. Handle such members with tact and consideration. Make missing members feel valued and needed by asking them to take on a task that "only they can do," one which their experience truly counts. Ask them to give just a small amount of their time to one particular project. Explain that their contribution is very important. Take time to say thanks. Honor members with a luncheon, ceremony, award or certificate in recognition of their years of involvement and service.
Use postcards and announcement cards to keep members up-to-date on important information vital to the successful operation of your council. Contact your local post office regarding what it would cost your council to provide such a service to your members.
Look at your current programs and activities to evaluate whether your council's resources and members are being fully used. Do members express interest in these programs? Are a majority of the members participating? What type of council image do these programs project to the community? Are these programs meaningful, sincere and diversified enough to appeal to all council members?
If your council has lost good Knights, develop a campaign to retrieve those members. Organize a number of active members with good telephone personalities located throughout the geographic area your council covers. Give each volunteer a list of lapsed members in his neighborhood, with details of when they joined, what committees each served on and what each did for the organization. Add to the list whatever personal data your records contain. This information serves as a good starting point for conversation. Supply these workers with up-to-date information about the organization including present activities, future plans, a supply of current K of C publications, and Membership Document (#100) forms.
Recruit lapsed members just as you would new prospects. Sell the organization to former members. Ask them what they enjoyed most about their participation in the past. Keep questioning on a positive basis. Emphasize the aspects of the organization the member is most likely to miss in allowing his membership to lapse.
Through efforts to retain current members and recruit new ones, we help the Order remain strong and growing.
Keep Him Involved
Go for the FORTH
Half Showman, Half Teacher
Take an Inventory
Keep Members Interested
Every Council Active
Fraternal - First and Foremost
Shining armor Award
Honor Those Members Who are always there
Well-Run Meetings will Boost Attendance