Magazine article VFW Magazine

Each Member Sign Up a New Member

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Each Member Sign Up a New Member

Article excerpt

If the organization is to grow in the 21st century, members will have to mount an all-out drive to recruit their fellow vets.

My membership goal for this year is admittedly ambitious. I tasked VFW recruiters with bringing in 175,000 new or reinstated members-including 40,000 active-duty eligibles through the Military Initiative Program (MIP)-in 2007.

The MIP retention rate is now 28%, making it a stellar program because it gives young vets an idea of what VFW is all about, as well as providing follow-up contact information. Still, MIP's success is contingent upon aggressive recruiting by the Posts.

Beyond specific recruiting techniques, we must broaden our horizons in appealing to potential members. This includes modernizing Posts, a step I have long advocated. Emulating what works at other fraternal organizations is another option. All mass membership groups are feeing the same challenges as VFW, and we can learn from their successful efforts.

But one thing is clear: Initiatives launched or suggested at national headquarters are not the ultimate answer. Yes, coordination and guidance from Kansas City is helpful, but it will not solve the problem. VFW has always prided itself on being a grassroots organization-that is where the answers will be found. Relying on "national" is not the route to go.

Leaders at the state and local levels have to find solutions that work within their own areas of responsibility. Strong, self-starting units at the ground level must galvanize and tailor their efforts. There is no magic, one-shoe-fits-all solution to membership. …

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