Staying on top

Staying on top

Dear American Legion Family members and friends,

I have always been a guy who sees the glass as half-full, not half-empty.  So, when it comes to our 2023 membership year, I’ll start by celebrating the positive.

As of last week, The American Legion welcomed 77,074 new members to posts across the country and overseas.  This exceeds the goal of 75,000 new members that I called for during my election on Sept. 1, 2022. There are still a few days left in this membership year, so I strongly encourage our posts to cross the finish line with a sprint rather than a stroll. Here is an easy opportunity to join online.

Notice I said “glass half-full.” On the flipside of this great growth of new members, our renewal rate needs dramatic improvement.

There are 172,850 members who paid dues to their posts in 2022 but have not yet renewed. At the department headquarters level, we have 21,343 non-renewals.  The American Legion recognizes that every year some members will pass away and join post everlasting. This is why we set our renewal goal at 90%, instead of 100%. Even so, our current retention rate is 88.65%.

In theory, it’s more difficult to recruit a new member than it is to keep an existing one. The existing member has already been convinced that The American Legion is worth joining. When people decide not to renew, chances are it’s due to a lack of engagement from their posts and fellow Legionnaires. They at one time believed that The American Legion offered programs, advocacy, service and camaraderie which outweighed its reasonable annual dues. Or maybe they just need one more reminder, from you. Online renewal is an easy click away.

I absolutely believe that we can achieve 90% renewals through better engagement. If a post only reaches out to its members in the form of a renewal notice, the results will be predictable. Newsletters are nice, but phone calls and visits are even better. Let each and every veteran in your post know that they are valued members of your American Legion Family. Don’t pressure people to go to meetings if they clearly have no desire to attend but let them know that you will always welcome their input and participation.

With more than 12,000 American Legion posts worldwide, not every post is a good fit for every Legionnaire. If conflicts or geographical issues are standing in the way, encourage the member to find a home at a post which is more convenient.

Don’t listen to the naysayers who believe The American Legion is in decline. Major media outlets have been predicting our demise for over a half-century now. While the veterans population is significantly smaller than it was following the Vietnam War, The American Legion is still the nation’s largest and most powerful veterans service organization. Let’s keep it that way.

Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola

National Commander