BEFORE YOU BEGINThis document has been well received for a number of years in the Growth and Development Workshops of the American Ethical Union.
Take some time to do an evaluation of your current Society/Fellowship practices and programs that have a direct impact on membership growth and maintenance as well as Society effectiveness. The following program rating scale can help you do that.
It is important to have your membership committee and/or board fill this out for their own information and for consciousness raising about Society effectiveness and membership growth. We suggest that you also have a cross-section of members and lay and professional leaders fill this form out. It may also be instructive to have some of your newcomers and new members fill this out, as well. This will help you discover those things which may not be as apparent or available to the general membership and to newcomers as you think they are. It always helps to get fresh new points of view on your Society and how well it is doing.
This form can also be a great training tool for membership committees and new boards. It is a quick overview of what a growing flourishing Society or Fellowship is offering its community and its membership.
We also suggest that your Society undertake such an evaluation every year to get a sense of your own improvements and achievements as well as areas in which there may have been a diminishment of program or effectiveness.
MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM RATING SCALEPlease circle the number that best expresses your opinion, counting 1- UNTRUE, 2 - MOSTLY UNTRUE, 3- SOMEWHAT UNTRUE, 4- SOMEWHAT TRUE, 5- MOSTLY TRUE, 6- ALWAYS TRUE
A. Attracting Visitors Note: Paid advertising is expensive and not particularly effective, except for special activities. Programs below have a higher priority [Tom Hoeppner note: This statement has been disputed by some, particularly the Chicago Society. Also note that this document was written before the availability of the web, which provides additional opportunity]
1. Our members regularly invite friends to attend the Society
2. Our Society sponsors forums, concerts, classes or similar activities likely to attract nonmembers to enter the building (or the group, for Societies without buildings).
3. We are staffed (EC Officiants) to encourage weddings and other ceremonies in our Society.
4. We have a sign inside the building displaying the Ethical Movement statement of purpose.
5. We have a literature rack (always filled) and a sign-up sheet or visitors' book where visitors can indicate an interest in additional information by e-mail or phone.
6. We have an attractive sign outside our building, giving times of Sunday meetings and information about Sunday School.
7. We encourage outside groups (e.g., folk music groups, ACLU, AA, Scouts, natural childbirth classes) to use our building.
8. We sponsor or cosponsor several projects during the year, such as habitat for humanity building, walk for diabetes, cancer, etc. And other non-controversial social services, that are open to the public and are easy opportunities for people to serve others, without committing themselves to a specific philosophy or long term service.
9. We sponsor or cosponsor several other events during the year at which people may do public service, such as cleaning up a stretch of highway, or a stream, planting flowers or weeding parks, making repairs of some sort. These events are open to the public and do not require any commitment to a particular philosophy or a long-term commitment.
10. We send out press releases on interesting Society activities which might be of general or community interest.
B. Welcoming Visitors
1. Our Society (Fellowship) easily recognizes visitors, and people go out of their way to make them feel accepted and welcome.
2. It is rare that a visitor leaves our Society without someone getting a name, address and telephone number or email for follow-up.
3. A trained greeters committee seeks out newcomers entering the building and during coffee hour.
4. At the coffee hour after our platform meeting visitors are approached warmly by members.
5. During every platform meeting there is a statement explaining to newcomers what the Ethical Movement is.
6. Following the platform meeting, during coffee, we have a newcomers get-together to let newcomers know what the Society is about.
7. We have a book table, staffed by an informed member, able to involve new people in a discussion.
C. Getting Newcomers Involved
1. We send letters welcoming each newcomer, giving information about the Society and Ethical Movement, preferably within a week of first visit.
2. Each newcomer receives a telephone call from a member soon after their first visit (preferably within a week, and preferably a member instead of or in addition to a Leader).
3. We have a printed brochure which describes the nature of the Society and outlines programs which are offered.v
4. Our Society literature emphasizes that we need ideas and input from newcomers, avoiding the impression that we have all the answers already.
5. We have regularly scheduled newcomers meetings, preferably weekly or monthly.
6. Newcomers meetings are announced regularly at platform meetings.
7. A selected group of newcomers are specifically invited by letter with follow-up calls, to attend newcomer's meetings.
8. Our newcomer's meetings encourage visitors (and participating members) to share information about their own religious backgrounds and beliefs, rather than being lectures only.
9. We have a quality Sunday School for all ages.
10. We have an active youth group.
11. We have an active singles group.
12. We have an active young adults group.
13. We have a parents' support group.
14. We have a variety of other small groups, classes, service, potluck discussion, which are open to receiving newcomers in their midst.
15. Our greeters are trained to find out newcomers interests and help steer them to appropriate activities.
16. We have regularly scheduled luncheons or other after-platform activities at which newcomers can easily get to know members socially.
17. New members are specially welcomed at platform meetings on a regular basis.
Note: If you have a good variety of attractive programs and a good visitor follow-up, 1/3 of those who sign the guest book should attend newcomers meetings. If you have a good new-comers meeting, creating a spirit of warmth and caring, 1/3 of those who attend should join.
D. After Joining
1. We have a new member interview designed to get information on new members interests and to encourage participation in appropriate activities.
2. New member interviews make clear to new members what is expected of them including commitment to the ideals of Ethical Culture, financial support and volunteer time and effort.
3. We have a mentoring program or lay leadership orientation or training designed to help new members make appropriate connections.
4. We have a special program-dinner, luncheon, etc, honoring new members.
5. We regularly invite newer members to participate in activities and on committees. (The increased point values in this and the next few questions indicate their importance.)
6. We have someone (preferably on staff, but if not an appropriate committee) concerned with getting new people involved, rather than always going back to the most active members to volunteer for tasks.
7. We have an annual discussion with our active members of their interests and activities, encouraging avoidance of burnout and a sense of burden, encouraging exploration and growth in new areas.
8. We have regular classes or programs to encourage philosophical development and growth of members.
9. We have regular programs, at least annually, to express our appreciation for our volunteers.
American Ethical Union
[Tom Hoeppner note: this document was produced before the advent of the world wide web and email, which provide several additional opportunities for follow-up and communicating.]
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