During American Legion College, three of the five groups presented a strategic plan for sustained membership growth that followed the Legion's five-year membership priorities: brand awareness; communication; training, education and leadership development; post creation, development and revitalization; and membership recruitment and retention.
Several ideas from the strategic plans included:
"I was listening to your plans from a post member standpoint, and I wanted to know what you wanted me to do. I didn't get that," said National Membership Director Billy Johnson. "As a post member, tell me that you want my post to revitalize itself but tell me when and tell me how you want me to do it. The districts and departments have to give posts the tools to meet their membership growth. And in many cases, these tools were not in the department's five-year membership plan. Tell posts how they should fight the battle and give them the tools to fight that battle."
Johnson recommended that all Legion College students obtain a copy of their respective department's five-year strategic membership plan to see if it has "the right elements to be successful over the next four or five years." If they don't, he advised them to go back to their department and "share what this plan should really be. Make sure that this one document, a plan for the organization, is successful. Tell them (the posts) what you want them to do and how you want them to do it."
Denise Rohan, chairman of the Legion's National Membership & Post Activities Committee, reiterated Johnson's remarks that departments and districts need to be specific in their details about how they want posts to help sustain membership growth.
"The work of face-to-face communication with our members is not happening at the department level and not necessarily at the district level," Rohan said. "It's happening at your post and that's where you're actually going to see your members and ask them to assist you in helping make this organization better than it already it is.
"Membership and post activities is not always about membership. When you go to a TAP event you talk about veterans benefits and what The American Legion has to offer; membership will follow. Remember, it's not only about membership, and it's not only about post activities – it is always about the veteran. We are here for the veterans and if they don't want to join, they don't want to join, but we still offer our services to our veterans."