The American Legion Department of Tennessee


Recruiting - Involve Current Members

  1. Host a “bring a friend” meeting. Encourage members to bring someone to see how your organization is run. This could be a recurring event or policy so that new members are continually bringing new friends!
  2. Hold a family-friendly event. Spouses, siblings, parents, and (grown-up) children are all potential members (depending on the type of membership you offer). Plus, showing your organization is family-oriented is a potential attracting point for new members!
  3. Offer an alternate meeting time to attract people with different schedules. Is your meeting time leaving out a whole group of people, like those with 9-5 jobs or early bedtimes? Switch up your offerings to attract more people—existing members and new!
  4. Run member features in your newsletter. If your members are featured in the newsletter, they might feel more compelled to send it to friends, family, and colleagues to show off their involvement.
  5. Encourage members to share your newsletter. Especially if they are featured in it!
  6. Thank your members regularly. There are a few different ways you can do that. Here are just a few:
    1. Create a video thank-you message from the leader of your organization, and publish it on your website, your social media profiles, and your email newsletter.
    2. Each year, make a list of all the events, services, and educational opportunities that were made possible by your membership fees. Publish the list on a separate page on your site, and link to it on a regular basis in your online content and email campaigns.
    3. Host a yearly event to say “thank you” to your members. Consider a member brunch, picnic, pool party, or other fun gathering.
    4. Write handwritten thank-you notes to your members. In our digital age, a personalized note is even more meaningful and memorable.
  7. Create rewards for American Legion members who recruit new members. Little rewards and freebies can really motivate people. Think about gift certificates, shout-outs at your next meeting or in your next newsletter, or even reserving a coveted parking space for members with high recruitment.
  8. Help members develop an “elevator pitch” about their membership. Why are they members? What is the biggest benefit of membership? Can they explain the purpose of your nonprofit or association?
  9. Host an event or distribute resources for how members can talk to others about your organization. Remind current members to greet newcomers and avoid American Legion jargon—making your organization approachable is key.
  10. Create an invitation email template your members can use. This is another great idea for a grassroots membership recruitment tool you can distribute to your members!
  11. You could also create paper-based pamphlets or member application forms. Another idea is a simple boiler-plate text script that current members can copy-and-paste into emails or social media messages that they send to colleagues.
  12. Or you could include the new member onboarding or a welcome package that new members receive!
  13. Offer American Legion business cards to your members. It is an easy way for them to point people to your American Legion and share more easily with their network. “Member referrals are a big source for us. We give our members ‘business cards’ to hand out to prospective members when they meet them. The cards have a line for the referral source, so the member gets credit for referring someone new.”
  14. Get existing members to recruit at least one member. Also get existing members together to volunteer as a group. You will do good in your community, strengthen bonds between existing members, and meet other volunteers in your space.
  15. Ask members to list their membership in their professional bios. It gets your American Legion name in front of more people, builds your organization’s prestige, and reminds members to talk about it.
  16. Give members a button or pin and encourage them to wear it. Make sure it is stylish so members will be more likely to wear it, and people will ask what it is about. Another quirky idea is to hand out bumper stickers to members. Get your name on the road!
  17. Assign especially engaged members a “recruitment role.” Among your members, who would make great recruiters because of their personal/professional networks? Enlist these members, offer them perks, and give them tools to fill this role!
  18. Create a promotional video. Members can share it with their contacts, and you can share it on social media and in your newsletters.
  19. Film member stories and testimonials. Publish them to your website and social media so you can give prospective members a visual reminder of just how engaged your current members are.
  20. Personally follow up with every prospect. When someone signs up for an event, email them directly and ask if they would like to sign up for organization membership. You know they are already interested in what you do—reach out!
  21. Launch a direct mail campaign. If you can acquire a mailing list or make a point of mailing to lapsed members, you might see success!
  22. Launch a telephone outreach campaign. An Association of Talent Development, made a goal to reach out to all the prospective members in their contact database. They simply listed all their prospects and contacted them one by one over the phone.
    1. By the end of the year, they gained over 100 new members through this initiative.
  23. Reach out to former members. People leave organizations for all kinds of reasons, from life events to time constraints. Some might be ready to come back. Remind them of your mission and how valuable their membership is!
  24. Conduct exit interviews with departing members. When you know why people are leaving, you can start figuring out ways to keep them.
  25. Ask your members for recruitment ideas. Never forget that your existing members are the best source of information about what is attractive about your organization. They may also have an idea you have not thought of before or know about opportunities within their own social networks.

Recruit Members Through Your Website

  1. Make sure your American Legion website is welcoming, easy to browse, and representative. Your website should reflect your organization’s mission and have a clear site map. Here are some great examples of nonprofit websites to get you thinking.
  2. Add a “Join Us” section to your website. This is an easy way to draw immediate attention to anyone looking to join your membership. You can also include testimonials from current members and the rewards of joining your organization.
  3. Set up Google Analytics or link tracking using or This will help you find out the most effective methods for getting new website traffic so you can double down on them.
  4. Make online registration as easy as possible. If you include online member application forms, anyone coming across your website will be much more likely to register than if they have to mail in a paper form.
  5. Refine your member benefits. Make them as clear and enticing as possible in your website copy so that prospective members cannot help but be impressed.
  6. Create member-only sections on your website. Including a section on your website that normal visitors cannot see can help generate interest — they will come across it and wonder what more they are missing.

Event Recruitment Ideas

  1. Offer one event a year at your ‘members-only’ rate. If you usually have one rate for members and another for non-members, pick one signature event and offer it to anyone at the members’ price. This is a great demonstration of the kind of value they will get if they do decide to join — which you should be sure to mention during said event!
  2. Invite guests to meetings. Let prospective members see what they are getting into by inviting them to your meetings.
  3. Create a welcome packet for guests. Include things like the mission, calendar, and contact information, as well as information about becoming a member.
  4. Follow up with guests. Send an email or postcard or make a phone call thanking the guest for attending and asking if they are considering membership. Sending out a post-event survey can also help you see what went well and what you can improve for next time.
  5. Sponsor a local event. Include your American Legion name and logo on promotional materials, and make sure event organizers have your American Legion information for anyone who asks.
  6. Give a talk about your American Legion at other organizations. Share your mission and activities with others in your arena.
  7. Host activities for members and non-members alike. A group activity is an excellent way to meet new people. Something like a beach clean-up or other community service projects can attract a wide range of prospective members.
  8. Walk or build a float for town parades. You will put your American Legion in front of the whole town — and look good doing it!
  9. Host seasonal meet-and-greets with a fun activity. Think about a fall hayride, a winter hot cocoa party, a spring nature walk, or a summer ice cream social to attract new members.
  10. Have a booth at a fair or festival. Give volunteers talking points to introduce your American Legion to the community.
  11. Have a meeting in a public location like a park or square. It draws attention and is a low-commitment way for curious potential members to check you out.
  12. Host a guest speaker. Guest speakers attract non-members who share your interests. Not only are speakers’ powerful motivators for attendance at meetings and events, but they can also encourage ideas and discussions that just might convince a new member to stick around and hear more from existing members.
  13. Host a charitable event like a run or walk. You will raise money for a good cause and introduce your American Legion to new people who also support the cause.
  14. Host a business spotlight event for local businesses. Local business owners will learn about each other, and about you!
  15. Hold diverse events to appeal to a variety of age groups. If all your events appeal to one group of people, mix things up by hosting an event to appeal to a different one. Try a teen-targeted event, or one aimed toward seniors!
  16. Host a free luncheon. Never underestimate the power of free food to bring people to an event!

Use Digital Marketing To Attract New Members

  1. Experiment with Facebook or Google ads. Online advertising can target demographics precisely, putting your American Legion in front of the people who are most likely to be interested. If you are a registered nonprofit, you can also apply for a Google Ad Grant of up to $10,000 yearly.
  2. Create a content marketing strategy. Start a podcast, create an online seminar, or write articles about your organization that potential members might find interesting.
  3. Pay attention to SEO. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing your website so that it is more easily found by Google. If you want to learn more, we have a guide here.
  4. Create an email marketing campaign. Once potential members have come to your website, ask them for their email in exchange for something they want.
  5. Send a win-back email to delinquent/former members. This can also include a discount or other incentive to rejoin. You can also ask them for feedback regarding the reasons they left, which can help reduce your turnover overall.
  6. Create an online group or community to foster interaction and engagement. Make it easy for others to find and join for free, then add other incentives to join your organization.
  7. Run online promotions during peak sales times. For example, you could host a Black Friday sale and promote it across your social media channels.

Networking to Recruit New Members

  1. Network with other Veteran Service Organization (VSO). Work together to increase your visibility. Consider hosting a VSO mixer to get to know each other. Cross-volunteering—you volunteer with them; they volunteer with you—is also a good way to get to know people working in your space!
  2. Attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Connect with your local movers and shakers. Some might be looking for American Legions to join or ways to get involved or will be willing to share your information with others.
  3. Introduce your American Legion to local businesses. Send a letter or email or stop by and introduce yourself. Bring along your informational brochure and American Legion business card.
  4. Introduce your American Legion to local government. Send a letter or make an appointment to introduce yourself and share your informational materials.
  5. Put up a stand at a conference in your industry. You will be guaranteed to find people invested in your organization’s mission—they are already at an event geared to their interests! 
  6. Reach out to universities and colleges in your area. Student Veterans of America may be interested in joining. You may also be able to partner with educational institutions for events or raise a kiosk at fairs they host. Offer a trial period for new members before they pay dues. If there is no cost for trying it out, potential members can learn about your organization and may stay long enough to pay for membership once they know what it has to offer.
  7. Give away something free to new members. The added value might be the incentive a prospective new member needs to take the plunge.
  8. You might also consider offering a draw: new members will have their name entered to win a bigger prize. The chance to win something can attract a lot of interest!
  9. Remove other barriers to attendance and consider accessibility. Think about what might stand in the way of members joining and try to resolve those issues. For example, you could meet near public transport, or provide childcare for members during meetings. Can people with different mobility needs access your meeting venue?
  10. One option to address all these needs and more is to offer an online or hybrid option for meeting attendance. Emphasizing flexibility is a great way to keep busy people involved!
  11. Offer online registration and payment. You want to make it as easy as possible for members to sign up, whether new or returning. Hosting registration on your organization website is the best way to make registration both visible and easy!
  12. Create a membership drive budget. Ads, events, and promotional materials all cost money. Prioritize your membership drive by budgeting for it.
  13. Create and implement a structured yearly recruitment plan. Check out the Boy Scouts of America for an example of what this could look like.
  14. Create new programs that might entice diverse members. For example, if you have a professional association, you could create a mentorship program for new employees in the space. If your organization is more on the creative side, you could create a feedback program. Finally, you could offer educational courses that are related to your central mission.
  15. Make sure your contact information is up to date on national and organization-wide directories. Often these are posted and then forgotten. You may have information out there that is not correct.
  16. Designate a Welcome or Membership chairperson. Increasing membership is a worthy effort, so appoint a team captain to head it up.
  17. Set a membership goal for each member to achieve. A concrete goal encourages members to recruit new people and puts everyone on the same page.




Membership retention begins at the forefront of your American Legion post. If your American Legion post aims to just attract anyone that will give you money, you are more likely to have a much higher churn rate. This is due to the fact that your membership cannot be completely universal, some people will love it, while others will not. This is inevitable.

But, to cut down on those who do not fully enjoy the membership, companies need to avoid the common mistake of targeting a market that is too wide. Without knowing the specifics of who you are trying to attract, it can make it hard to retain all of your customers. This leads to members joining with the wrong expectations and is a common trend when it comes to a decline in membership retention.
Instead, focus this excess time and money on finding your target audience who will become long-term advocates for your American Legion post. They are the ones that can identify your core service model and continue to resonate with your American Legion post.
Invest in Long-Term Incentives
Short-term incentives do greater damage than you can think. They may boost membership quickly. But when the time comes for renewal of a full-priced membership, it can be extremely difficult to retain the members who paid at a discounted rate. This often results in high membership churn rates as the customers who do not see the value in the American Legion post at this full price point tend to leave.
It also results in existing members feeling betrayed as they should be the ones receiving rewards for their loyalty. Thus, focus on long-term member incentives if you want tour members to stay with you for a longer period. Continue to reward and incentivize your already resolute and present user base. Not only will this increase membership retention, but it will reduce the number of individuals that simply signed up for the discounted price, and not for the product/service itself.
Do not Suffocate New Members
Although good intentions, companies tend to lose their leverage when they choose to suffocate new members with the constant flow of information through email. Because of that, after the initial onboarding process is finished, companies should look at a more hands-off approach for these individuals over the next three to six months. There is no point in “overdoing” contact with new members if they simply are not going to look through the information you are sending them.
Instead, keep them out of the loop with daily "heavy" email chains. Opt for a handoff approach, sending occasional emails to stay connected. At the three-month mark, continue to email them a list of networking opportunities and new benefits that have recently been added.  This will keep your emails from getting overlooked while keeping members informed about your new activities and benefits.
Assess their Interest and Goals
Assess the member’s interests, needs, and goals to know their expectations. Then you can educate new members about the diverse ways they can get value from their subscriptions which may include networking, educational resources, training, or volunteering. By beginning this channel of clear feedback at the very beginning, you will also be able to strengthen your relationship with the new members, so they do not lose sight of the value your American Legion post provides.
Customize Communication Channels
There is no such thing as a one size fits all membership for any association. Providing members with customized interactions that meet their daily needs is beneficial to them as a whole. Emails with personalized subject lines are more likely to be opened by members and demonstrate their value to the American Legion post.
Thus, personalizing your communication channels is not only effective as a member retention strategy but also enhances your American Legion post’s image. Looking for more useful ways to build a long-term relationship with your members, check out these effective strategies to boost member engagement.
Collect Feedback from Existing Members
From the outside, it is easy to assume what your members want and how their ideas fit into your vision of the perfect membership. As a result, there is often a communication gap between the business and the members, resulting in a lack of understanding of what the members need.
Send a member survey to identify members' preferences and how well they are interacting with your association to repair this communication barrier and boost membership retention.
Use these survey questions to gauge the satisfaction of your members precisely.
In addition to meeting their needs, feedbacks give customers a sense of reassurance that their membership with the American Legion post is valued and is actively seeking their opinion on how things are going.
New members should also be surveyed six to nine months after joining. This allows them to share their perceptions and experience with your American Legion post.
Conduct Exit Interviews
In contrast to surveys sent to current members, exit interviews are indirect methods of improving members' experience.
Ask your members if they are open to it and discover why exactly they decided to leave. By doing this, you can gain access to information that would not have been available if they were still members.
Focusing on the reasons people are not renewing your business will hopefully allow you to narrow in on these aspects and ultimately fix the problem of lower membership retention. Again, it is all about making the member feel important and valued.
Develop your Member Engagement Scoring
Engagement scoring is simple; think of it as a report card for each of your members. You first have to determine the appropriate “grading” scale for specific actions a member may take, this information all factors into that individual’s final grade to help a business categorize its members. Confused about where to start? Try these member engagement scorecards to understand the needs of your community.
The majority of businesses have three categories; very engaged, moderately engaged, and not engaged. The main goal would be to move the “not engaged” members up to the “very engaged” level hopefully to also boost membership retention. After grouping your members, reach out to those who are less engaged with ways they can get involved with your program. Whether these are educational videos, conference calls, or surveys, make the recipient feel welcome in your community.
Stress the Benefits of Your Memberships
At the end of the day, the benefits of the membership are most likely the main reason they decided to partner with your association. By promoting recent offerings and stressing the fact that your American Legion post is the only one able to provide these benefits, members are able to remember exactly why they joined in the first place. Not only does this help with simply knowing what is available to them, but it also keeps them engaged in the American Legion post in a way that is specifically designed for its members. Unfortunately, perfect retention rates do not exist in any American Legion post, especially for new members. You will always face members who simply do not respond to your membership retention strategies. However, by allowing your members to see the value in their membership, you have done the most you can do to retain their presence.
Run Attractive Events
Sometimes, people need to be pushed or pulled into situations that force them to get engaged and events are a terrific way to do so. Communication and engagement can become dull when people are bored or lazy, and a juicy event is just what they need to get going again. They are also a wonderful way to attract new members and explore networking opportunities for them. You can also help your community by being the one point of reference for all future businesses, projects, and campaigns to come together and discuss pertinent issues through regular events. They are also a surefire way to keep members renewing so they can continue attending your now exclusive events for opportunities.
Offer Perks and Benefits
In a benefits program, you partner with third parties to provide your members with rewards like discount vouchers or promo codes. Sometimes these involve profit sharing, and if you are lucky, you can get a goodwill arrangement as well.
Maybe it is a discount at Starbucks, or access to certain facilities in American Legion rooms. Due to the fact that these benefits are free, they offer a cost benefit to members, which helps you retain them. You will also not incur any costs for providing these rewards since you are in a partnership.
Serve Customers with Excellence
A company's reputation for excellent customer service is closely tied to its customers' experience. Thus, the quality of service your American Legion post provides plays a vital role in boosting sales and retaining members. A positive attitude and the ability to go above and beyond for your members help to provide the experience members are willing to pay for. You can build your reputation, increase word-of-mouth marketing, and improve your business's overall value by providing excellent customer service.
Establish a Mentorship Program for Members
Pairing your new members with member mentors is a great strategy to engage them.
The mentor can teach them how to maximize their membership benefits and expand their network within the American Legion post. Mentors, on the other hand, feel involved, thus boosting retention on both sides.
A staff member could also send a personalized email to a potential mentor highlighting a specific benefit, a section of the site, or other resources they might find useful. For instance, a new member with a student membership could be directed to your site's job board.
Thus, having this sense of community entices your members to stay with your American Legion post for the long run.
Promote Leadership Opportunities
You can significantly increase retention potential by encouraging your members to take a greater role within your American Legion post. If you think your members would be interested in volunteering or holding a leadership position, let them know.
For instance, a member who enjoyed being mentored during the first year may feel excited to mentor newcomers.
Automate Renewal Reminders
It might be a promising idea to send membership renewal emails one month before a member's membership expires. By making these straightforward, your members are better able to understand how and when to renew.
Demonstrate both your American Legion post's value and your gratitude for their involvement in these emails. You can also take this opportunity to thank your members and reiterate your American Legion post's commitment to friendship and partnership.
Since it is hard to remember and send renewal emails manually, it is best to automate them. Our association management software can automate push notifications and email reminders to your members and remind them of their renewals.
Celebrate Renewals
As you celebrate your American Legion post’s big day, consider giving a shout-out to all your members who renewed their memberships.
Additionally, you can hold an event to celebrate your American Legion post's milestones, send out thank you cards for member renewals, or organize light, fun activities to create a sense of community among your members.