“There was a time when you said the words ‘American Legion’ and people knew exactly who we were and what we stood for,” said newly-appointed American Legion National Membership & Post Activities (M&PA) Committee Chairman Kenneth Orrock to committee members during their annual meeting last month. “When we look at brand awareness in the (Legion’s) five-year membership plan, at what point in time did we as an organization surrender our position as the dominant voice of the American veteran? We cannot serve our communities, our nation and our fellow veterans without a robust membership program.”
Brand awareness was one of several topics discussed during the M&PA meeting where members re-evaluated the viability of each tactic within the Legion’s five-year strategic plan for sustained membership growth to ensure the plan’s overall mission of building and sustaining a culture of growth is achieved.
“The five-year plan has laid the foundation for a culture of growth within every facet of The American Legion,” Orrock said. “We have to integrate membership and membership recruitment into everything that we do. Everything we do is an invitation to talk to eligible veterans about this organization and what they can do to join.”
National Headquarters is helping Legionnaires build and sustain a culture of growth through a new publication, which shows members how to convey the Legion’s message on the many ways in which the organization fulfills its mission to assist veterans, military personnel, families and communities. The booklet, “The American Legion Membership Public Relations Guide,” can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A PDF version of the document can also be downloaded on the Legion’s publications web page under Public Relations: www.legion.org/publications
“We need to share stories of success and excitement for the culture of growth,” Orrock said. “Because at the end of five years, we don’t stop working membership. We don’t stop growing this organization. The five-year plan is our guide as we work our way through building and a sustaining a culture of growth.”
Committee members also shared best practices that their respective departments have implemented as part of their five-year membership plan, such as:
Appointing a Direct Mail Solicitation (DMS) chairman to help monitor the DMS list on mylegion.org and to help with post and district revitalization efforts.
Soliciting membership to veterans who received VA claims assistance from an American Legion-accredited service officer.
Additionally, each member of the M&PA Committee has been assigned a group of departments to offer assistance and support in their recruitment programs. Each committee member will act as the subject matter expert on their assigned departments, will know the status of their department’s five-year plan and what help it may need, and will relay information from M&PA meetings to the departments, as well as provide feedback from the field.
Orrock reiterated to the committee members that to keep the Legion relevant for years to come, the five-year membership plan is vital as is the Legion symbol.
“When I wear the Legion symbol, whether it’s on a shirt or cap, it’s an invitation for veterans to speak to me,” he said. “It’s an invitation to those who want more information about this organization, and I think it’s so important that we show this proud symbol and make that invitation for veterans to talk to us about this organization whether they join us or not.”