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Membership recruitment.

Membership recruitment is an important component of any professional organization, and most of us welcome ideas for increasing and sustaining members. My local association, the Tooele, Utah, chapter, found a unique way to showcase itself and attract more members.

Last summer, several members decided to take a break from teaching and discontinued their membership with MTNA and the local association. Our chapter was already small and was quickly becoming smaller before my eyes. Frankly, it wasn't the size of our chapter that bothered me. I considered each member in our chapter not only a colleague, but a friend. What bothered me was the fact my friends were leaving, and I hated to see that.

I know the huge benefits teachers receive through being a member of MTNA, and I was concerned. I believed every teacher needed to be a part of this great organization and that teachers in our area had something to contribute regardless of their experience or education. I also believed each would benefit greatly by becoming a member.

I was on a mission to recruit teachers and let them know about all the resources provided by MTNA and our local association. About that time, our local music store added a beautiful recital hall, and it occurred to me it would be the perfect place to hold an open house.

My secretary and I chose a Saturday in August to hold the open house. This gave us a month to meet teachers who attended the open house and follow up with them before our first chapter meeting. My next concern was how to get teachers to attend. We planned to provide refreshments and asked teachers and students to volunteer to play background music to create a nice ambiance. We also provided information packets that included registration information and applications to MTNA, UMTA and AIM (Achievement in Music program), the Tooele Chapter meeting calendar, fliers for upcoming events, a sample of the UMTA newsletter, a prize sponsor list, a MUSICLINK brochure and a "Getting to Know You" form.

But something was still missing. That's when it occurred to me to have prize drawings every hour or so during the open house. I knew we didn't have the budget to provide the prizes, so I decided to e-mail music publishers and companies to see if they would like to donate prizes for attendees at the open house. In exchange, we would display their brochures, catalogs and so on. We ended up with more than fifteen companies that generously donated prizes for our drawings. We even gave a grand-prize basket valued at about $120, which was awarded at the end of the open house, and we held another drawing at our first meeting in September. The second drawing was another way to encourage those who did not join the day of the open house or couldn't make it, to attend our first meeting and experience the benefits of becoming a member firsthand.

Fliers for the open house were displayed, brochures and invitations were mailed, an announcement on the local city website was posted and an article highlighting the open house was printed in the local paper. In the end, the open house was a success, with a 50 percent membership increase, and several attendees said they intended to join the chapter soon.

This approach worked well for our chapter, and yours would likely benefit, too. Whether it's an open house held for just a few hours or an all-day event, this type of recruitment effort--followed by personal contact--is one of the best recruitment efforts we've ever made.

Jennifer Foxx is president of the Tooele Chapter in Utah. Foxx has taught piano for seventeen years and early childhood music for three years.
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Title Annotation:Forum focus: local associations
Author:Foxx, Jennifer
Publication:American Music Teacher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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