One of our club leaders contacted me with a problem that I think many clubs have at one point in time or another. This is the problem of dwindling membership and commitment from kids. As I was jotting down suggestions for her my list just kept getting longer and longer. I realized that many of my suggestions are good practices for all clubs, not just the ones having difficulties. So here are my top ten suggestions to improving club membership and in return, your overall club.
- Advertise club meetings in your local newspaper. We are more than willing to put your meeting times and dates in the newsletter, but you will only reach kids who are already in 4-H that way. Submit articles summarizing each club meeting and try to add a picture each time. This is a good job for the News Reporter to take care of.
- Provide attendance awards such as prizes or recognition for making a certain number of meetings for the year. Consult with your club to come up with a reward that will really motivate them.
- Create a goal for your club to raise a certain amount of money through fundraisers. It is easier to be motivated to raise money when you already know where the money is going to be spent (like a special field trip or club t-shirts). This can help ignite excitement and determination.
- Create your own club website to help keep members informed through the internet. It’s also another good way to spread the news about what your club does. Websites like ours (shutterfly) are free. Just create an account. The website is very simple to use.
- Do a club project. Every 4-Her is encouraged to submit a project record book every year. They can receive 4-H scholarship money! By doing a project as a club, you ensure that every member does at least one project each year and you also work on life skills such as team building, critical thinking, and problem solving. It also gives you something to work on at every club meeting. Think outside of the box when choosing a project. There is a wide variety of 4-H curriculum to choose from. Have a quiet club? Try the theatre curriculum to encourage creativity and speaking in front of a group. Leadership and community service are also good choices.
- Require demonstrations be done at meetings. This might not initially sound like a way to keep members, but it often helps when you give a child a goal and some responsibility. Tell them “Mollie, you will be doing a demonstration on July 23rd.” You can let them choose what they want to talk about or you could come up with a creative theme for each meeting.
- Create a phone committee. Pick one or two members to call everybody else and remind them about upcoming meetings and anything special that they need to do or bring to the meeting. This helps keep everyone informed and helps reduce those “Oh I completely forgot about it.” people.
- Make sure the president is prepared. That means that they really know and understand parliamentary procedure and don’t need to be told what to do during the meetings. They should make the agenda for each meeting and there should be a copy for every member. People like to know what’s going on during the meeting.
- After the meeting, have the secretary email the minutes to everyone. That way if someone misses the meeting they will still know what went on.
- Work on your program!! Make sure you are planning educational activities that are meaningful and fun! If you are just having a business meeting every month that will get old very quickly for the kids. Make sure you include them during your brainstorming for new ideas. Survey them to see what their interests are and evaluate programs after they are done to see how well they worked. To me, this is the most important suggestion. Having a great program is the foundation of a great club.
I hope that you can use several of these ideas to make your club even greater. Remember our motto, to make the best better. Always strive for that. I’d love to hear your comments, to know which ones you will embrace and any other ideas that you might have. What works with your club? You can all help each other by sharing things that didn’t work for you and things that do.
Thanks for all of your hard work,
4-H Program Assistant