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Membership plan laid out

Membership plan laid out
Denise Rohan, chairman of the Legion’s National Membership & Post Activities Committee, officially announced the organization's five-year membership plan at the first session of Spring Meetings. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

Resolution 64, passed during the 2012 American Legion Fall Meetings, charged the Legion’s Internal Affairs Commission and Membership & Post Activities Committee to establish a five-year strategic plan to help the organization reach a record in total membership by 2019 — the Legion’s centennial. And on May 8, during Spring Meetings, Denise Rohan, chairman of the Legion’s National Membership & Post Activities Committee, announced the Legion’s five-year strategic plan for sustained membership growth.

"We want to encourage all members, all members all the way down to the post level, to be a part of this plan," Rohan said. "It needs to be a grass-roots effort. We have to tell The American Legion story to our nation’s military."

Each Legion department will be expected to draft a comprehensive plan for membership growth that can be used at all Legion levels and submit it to the membership committee before June 14. Then, during National Membership Workshop, Aug. 2-4, each newly elected department commander will discuss how his or her respective department is going to implement the five-year membership plan. The 2013-2014 elected national commander and national vice commanders will receive an update during the 2013 Fall Meetings on how each department is progressing.

The membership plan will include the following five strategies:

Brand awareness

  • Create and promote a tagline that best describes the Legion.
  • Develop a comprehensive marketing plan.
  • Encourage new corporate partnerships with veteran friendly organizations that have the same values as the Legion.

Communication

  • Develop a media relations team within each department.
  • Collect all members’ email addresses to disseminate information on any calls to action.
  • Increase public service announcements in local media channels.
  • Increase presence in social media.

Training, education and leadership development

  • Develop membership training teams.
  • Encourage growth of the Leadership Education and Development program, The American Legion Extension Institute and department Legion colleges.

Post creation, development and revitalization

  • Conduct post evaluations to identify areas that may need post revitalization, consolidation or new post development.
  • Use the proper membership tools at all levels to achieve growth, like "Why You Should Belong" and "How We Help" brochures, Post Officer Guide and Public Relations Toolkit.

Membership recruiting and retention

  • Establish membership teams at all levels. Develop and implement a strategy for transferring members from the department headquarters’ post into traditional posts.
  • Evaluate current reward and incentive programs at all levels and make recommendations for change if needed.
  • Develop a working relationship with military senior leaders to offer an opportunity to join the Legion to all eligible members of the active military, National Guard and reserve.
  • Make all new members feel welcome.
  • Offer participants in the Legion programs, and their families, the opportunity to support such programs through membership in The American Legion Family, if eligible.

"We need our community to know that we are not just a bar — that we are about service to our veterans, their families and our communities," Rohan said. "We need to be seen as service first.

"We need to continue to work with our Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion (members) to welcome them into our complete American Legion Family. And with their help, we will welcome our veterans and their families into this great organization."

Also during Spring Meetings, National Commander Jim Koutz raised his OCW goal from $500,000 to $750,000. "Whether we are showing our appreciation today at a warrior transition battalion or tomorrow at a VA center, the financial support for these heroes must continue."

In other business:

  • Legion departments donated more than $54,000 to OCW, $6,000 to the Child Welfare Foundation and $7,000 to Temporary Financial Assistance.
  • Mark Chmielewski of Salem, Conn., was named The American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year for 2013. Chmielewski will receive a $10,000 scholarship.
  • The Legion Legacy Scholarship awarded $49,980 to 28 students. Each student will be awarded a $1,785 scholarship.

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