Without a shadow of a doubt, the most common question I get asked is “how can we attract new committee members?”
There are several reasons why you might want – need, even – more committee members; to increase diversity of opinions; to broaden the skillset of the committee; to increase capacity; to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organisation. Whatever the reason, here are 5 ways that you can attract new committee members.
1 – Hold a community event (and advertise it in as many ways as possible)
This could be an AGM, a showcase event, a fundraising event, or anything else. Be sure that your event appeals to a broad demographic and attracts people from all walks of life. Advertise your event in as many ways as possible – social media, website, posters, leaflets through doors, community radio, Eventbrite, ACVO’s events calendar, etc. At the event, have a short sign-up form for anyone who’d like to become more involved with your organisation.
Okay, a community event is great, but it is a lot of work. What is something I can do NOW? I hear you! Here’s something that is immediately actionable:
2 – Make your committee meetings open to anyone living locally and advertise them
By opening your committee meetings to the public, it breaks down barriers for participation by making the meetings appear more casual and welcoming. Not every committee meeting needs to be open to the public, but purposefully planning at least a few per year will certainly go a long way. Advertise these through some of the methods listed in point 1 but don’t be put off if it takes a few meetings before new people start turning up. In marketing, they say that people need to have a product advertised to them 8 times before they’ll part with their money, and similar principles apply to people spending their time and energy.
3 – Publish your minutes online and/or on public notice boards
Let people hear the conversations that are happening in their community. If people feel more informed about what’s going on, they’ll be more likely to recognise where they can contribute and step up to the task. Afterall, no one wants to risk turning up something and have no clue what’s going on. The minutes should also include the date of the next meeting, so this can be a great opportunity to suggest that new folk come along.
4 – Utilise other Community Groups
Try inviting people along from other local community groups: libraries, community council, local councillors, social enterprises, local charities, etc. By inviting these people to your committee meetings, it opens the doors to wider discussions and opportunities for mutually beneficial partnership working. And although they might not come along to every meeting, it can be tremendously beneficial to get another set of thoughts from time to time.
5 – Advertise for new committee members on Volunteer Aberdeen, Volunteer Scotland, and the ACVO Newsletter
Get in touch with our volunteering wizard, Mike Melvin, about advertising on these platforms. This can be a useful way of recruiting members with specific knowledge bases or skillsets. Some good bases to cover include knowledge of the 3rd sector, finance, health and safety, and digital skills.
Bonus suggestion for member retention: Make your meetings fun and efficient
This could be a whole blog post in itself. Many committees suffer with new member retention, which is likely a result of dull meetings which overrun. Try keeping the meetings light – one committee I know have races to put their hands up to propose and second agenda items, which always gets a laugh. Although making decisions about an organisation is no laughing matter, jokes can always break the ice. But be sure to stay on task by remembering that every decision can only have 1 of 3 answers: yes, no, or needs more information (that’s advice I was told from Sandy). By ensuring that the meetings are fun, productive, and time-efficient, you’ll stand a much better chance of increasing member retention. For training on committee skills, I recommend that you get in touch with my good colleague, Sandy Mathers.
This list was in no way exhaustive but, in the interest of being easily digestible, I hope you found it useful. Please let me know if this info helps you and your organisation in gaining new committee members – we’re always on the lookout for good news stories
What would you like to see covered in the next blog post? What are your burning questions? In what areas could you benefit from more pointers? Let me know!