American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Membership Recruitment and Retention

When an action plan for recruitment and retention is clearly defined, chapter officers and councilors are more likely to be engaged and make sure that the plan is put into action. Key components of a plan include:

  1. An analysis of the chapter’s current membership situation, considering such aspects as:
    • Total number of members compared to previous year
    • Total number of members compared to number of College members in chapter territory
    • Number of members actively involved in chapter programs (annual meeting attendance, resident events, etc.)
    • Number of new members recruited each year
    • Annual membership retention rate
    • Past activities effective for recruiting new members
    • Past activities effective for retaining current members
  2. Set specific, quantifiable goals for membership in terms of both recruitment and retention.
  3. Define the specific activities that you will undertake to attract new members.
  4. Define the specific activities that you will undertake to retain existing members.
  5. Assess your strategy each year to see if chapter activities are still relevant to current members.

Recruitment Strategies

  • Send a personal letter, or email, signed by the chapter president, to everyone on your prospecting list inviting them to join your chapter. Tailor membership benefits as specifically as possible in the letter to each prospect’s interest. Enclose/attach an application for chapter membership, along with a schedule of upcoming chapter meetings/events.
  • Designate an active officer or member of the chapter to follow up with each nonresponding prospect within four weeks after each membership mailing. The more personal contact the better—in person or via phone is the optimum for contact.
  • Do a special mailing of your chapter newsletter to prospects. Include a personalized invitation to join the chapter and include an application.
  • Add prospects to your regular mailing list for annual meeting notices. Consider offering to waive or reduce the annual meeting registration fee for prospects who join the chapter and register for the program at the same time.
  • Make sure that current members, especially chapter leaders and active participants, know who the nonmembers are by distributing prospect lists and asking members to invite anyone they may know to join.

Retention Strategies

  • Get members involved! Whether it’s being assigned to a committee, serving as an officer, or helping plan chapter activities, the more involved members become, the more likely they are to maintain their membership and level of participation.
  • Reinforce member benefits at renewal time. The annual dues billing cycle offers a great opportunity to restate the value of chapter participation. Include a reminder—such as a personal letter, a summary of the year’s achievements, or testimonials from other members—about the benefits of chapter membership.
  • Communicate regularly with members via email, newsletters, and by updating the chapter website with new content regularly. Chapter newsletters and other communications should always carry some sort of membership message, reinforcing the value of belonging to the chapter. Examples include recognizing member achievements or listing membership benefits.
  • Publicly recognize the achievements of members and the chapter. For example, when surgeons from the chapter become Fellows send an announcement to local newspapers and hospital newsletters.

The following strategies have been particularly effective for retaining Resident and Medical Student members:

  • Send a personal letter of congratulations from your chapter president to each new Resident and Medical Student member in your chapter and invite them to participate in an upcoming chapter activity. This invitation may also include a waiver or reduction of registration fees.
  • Assign each Resident or Medical Student Member a “mentor” from your chapter membership. Mentors should make personal contact with the Resident or Medical Student on a regular basis to offer personal assistance, advice or other support.

Once an applicant has completed all criteria to become a Fellow they are known as an Initiate until they officially become a Fellow during Clinical Congress. ACS can provide chapters with information about new initiates that can be an effective method for recruiting and retaining these chapter members through personalized outreaches and benefits:

  • Send a personalized letter/email of congratulations from your chapter president to each new Initiate of the College that resides within your chapter area and invite them to attend a chapter event. Also include a chapter membership application for any new Initiates that are not members of the chapter.
    • Consider offering a waiver or reduction of chapter membership dues or event registration fees to any new initiates that respond to the membership invitation.
  • Publish the names of all new Initiates in your area in your chapter newsletter with a note of congratulations.
  • Sponsor a reception at Clinical Congress for new Initiates in your chapter area. Clinical Congress is a particularly good time to meet and welcome new Initiates personally to encourage them to engage with and/or join the chapter.

For more details on recruitment and retention strategies that your chapter can implement please visit the following link where you can view “Chapter Member Recruitment and Retention—Tips and Best Practices” hosted by Connie Bura, Associate Director, Division of Member Services.