Operation Come Back

Retention is a top membership priority for The American Legion as highlighted by National Commander Bill Oxford’s goal for a 90 percent retention rate. To achieve this goal, The American Legion has launched the campaign “Operation Come Back” where Legionnaires are encouraged to contact, engage and renew at least 90 percent of the 2019 and 2020 expirees between now and March 15.

“Something that I would like for all of us to keep in mind, regardless of the color of hat we wear or the position we may hold, is that we are first and foremost members of an American Legion post,” said Jay Bowen, Membership & Post Activities Committee chairman, during regional calls with department and national leadership last month. “So it is not just (the post’s) responsibility to get membership, to get renewals. It is our responsibility to get membership and renewals.

“It’s the leadership of getting this done – to get these Legionnaires to renew.”

On those same regional calls, Oxford said that “leadership is being a good communicator. The secret, if we expect to get back on track, is to get our message out. We have to make the value of American Legion membership loud and clear. Our job as leaders is to create the excitement and enthusiasm and willingness to do the things necessary to retain every Legion member.

“Retention is about leadership. And leadership is about communication.”

Attendees on the calls were asked to share best practices that support renewal efforts.

CPRs. The Department of Ohio is showing the value of membership through its new CPR Impact Summary Report,
a department-wide collection of Consolidated Post Report data presented in key impact numbers. View the report at www.legion.org/documents/pdf/ohio.cpr.pdf.

Ohio’s CPR Impact Summary Report has the look and feel of national’s monthly Membership Impact Report. The statistics presented can be used in membership renewal, recruitment or to otherwise explain the impact posts have statewide. A copy of Ohio’s CPR Impact Summary Report was printed in-house and mailed to every post in the state.

“I can now take this when I go to the statehouse or meet with a member of Congress or the governor, I can say this is what our members and our posts are doing in the state of Ohio,” said Department of Ohio Adjutant Suzette Heller, who emphasized that a post could put its CPR numbers on a single sheet to hand out. That way when a member asks why they should renew or join, the post could hand them a copy of the single-page report and say, “This is why. This is what we’re doing,” Heller said. “What a great way for posts to make a statement in their community, to their mayor. This is what your local American Legion did for the community.”

Heller said a digital copy of its CPR Impact Summary Report will be emailed to 2019 and 2020 expirees for renewal. A small group of 2020 expires without email on file will receive a hard copy by mail, along with 2021 renewal instructions. Data will be reviewed to see who renewed for a return on investment.

MyLegion.org. The Department of Ohio also is encouraging its members to renew their membership through MyLegion.org, and for posts to use the online membership transmittal processing feature also through MyLegion.org. This feature allows posts to process their membership in batches and pay for membership online through e-checks. The electronic payment method eliminates the need for post officers to send the national/department portion of the three-part membership cards and paper checks to department headquarters.

Heller said the department has met every membership target date goal this membership year and contributes the success to online renewals and post membership transmittals.  

Post data. The Department of Ohio has also been analyzing and breaking down membership data to help meet membership target dates. For example, posts close to reaching 100 percent membership are identified. District commanders are made aware of these posts and asked to call the post leadership to notify them of their membership standings – the department reaches out as well – and reminds the post to transfer department headquarter members in and to renew 2020 members.

“There’s a lot of efforts on our part to make sure that we’re holding everybody accountable,” Heller said. “We’re giving everybody the information and the resources that they need. And we’re able to communicate the specifics to the district leadership and to the post leadership by any means possible – mail, Constant Contact, email and phone calls.”

How to get started on Operation Come Back
- Access rosters for non-renewed members through MyLegion.org.
- Contact members and ask them to renew.

- Transmit renewal dues immediately to department/national.
- Send membership cards to member.

“If this organization is going to continue to grow, then retention is critical to that growth,” Bowen said. “It absolutely is. Bottom line is we have to communicate.”