Responding to inquiries from potential members

Posted On: Wednesday, 05 June 2024

Tips for getting back to members in a timely, personalized, and ongoing way 
A 2023 report from the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute shows that nearly half — or 47% — of U.S. nonprofit leaders describe recruitment as a significant problem. 
Through activities like posting an organization’s logo or participating in community events, marketing can help nonprofit organizations like the American Legion Auxiliary attract members and change that recruitment narrative. 
But to be successful, this marketing needs the support of the group’s current members. ALA units should be prepared to respond appropriately to any inquiries they receive from people introduced to the organization through marketing efforts. 
“Many people want to help in some capacity,” said Jennifer Mullen, senior instructor of marketing for Indiana State University’s Scott College of Business, “or they want to see if the organizational mission aligns with their personal values.”
To capitalize on this interest, members should respond in a way that’s timely, personalized, and ongoing, said Mullen, who regularly consults with nonprofit organizations and incorporates nonprofit fundraising into her marketing courses.
Mullen recommends the following six tips for responding to inquiries from potential Auxiliary members.
By answering any questions about the ALA quickly, members show respect for the person who’s inquiring and a genuine interest in what they have to say. Responses should avoid canned replies, providing customized answers to the specific questions raised. The organization should take note of the best ways to reach the person who has expressed interest — capturing their email address, for example — and store that contact information for future outreach.
In responses to queries, current members should include a focus on the unique value that the ALA can offer the individual. The information that members provide should emphasize the ways that the ALA’s work in support of veterans, military, and their families aligns with the values and goals of the individual who’s asking about the organization. One of the best ways to illustrate the Auxiliary’s value is by asking current members to share their own stories about the impact that the group has had on them and on their community.
“Marketing used to be a one-way form of communication. Those days are long gone, and consumers want to feel heard,” Mullen said. With this point in mind, it’s important for current members to ask questions of those who are inquiring about the ALA, to better understand their interests and motivations. By taking the time to learn about the person who’s asking questions, the group can provide answers that address an individual’s concerns and build connections.
Does your unit have a meeting or social activity coming up? Does the group have service activities planned? Inviting someone who has expressed interest in the ALA to take part in a group event — especially if it’s one that aligns with their own interests — can help them to feel involved and foster a sense of purpose. Additionally, participation in these activities provides a firsthand look at how the ALA advances its mission.
Contact with those who ask about the ALA shouldn’t end after the first interaction, which is why making note of people’s contact information is critical. Current members should stay in touch with prospective members, and the unit should offer updates through channels like emails, texts, or social media posts. These continued outreach efforts keep the Auxiliary top of mind and reinforce the organization’s value for those who have asked about it. 
While it’s good to show enthusiasm for the ALA and new members, there’s a fine line between showing passion and overstepping boundaries. In communicating with those who have questions about the organization, members should avoid using language that seems overly salesy or puts pressure on someone to join. A consistent message about the ALA’s values and impact — and the personal fulfillment that they can bring — is more effective in building interest and attracting members.

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.