No matter the size of your campus or of your pro-life club, recruiting, retaining and engaging your members remains a critical part of a vibrant and effective pro-life campus group. It is, after all, through the efforts of members that clubs are able to reach their campuses: at events, on the sidewalks, at the club fairs, in the classrooms and in extracurriculars.
The staff of NCLN are available to offer training to help with recruitment as well as to regularly mentor club leaders to improve their membership engagement, but sometimes the best way to learn is from the example of other clubs. We’ve seen Guelph Life Choice dramatically improve their membership engagement and development of club leaders over the past months and we asked Celine Mammoliti, president, and Meagan Nijenhuis, vice-president, to share how they went about this.
This post also marks the start of a series that highlights the efforts, strategies and accomplishments of clubs across Canada. If there is something your club might like to share with the Pro-Life Student Movement of Canada, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: On our first campus visit, you both seemed quite disheartened in terms of membership engagement. We’ve seen so much energy since. What changed?
Meagan: We got a lot of engagement at the Club Days booth [at the beginning of September]. From there we found a meeting time that worked for the majority and stuck to the same room and time every week. Then Celine sent out a weekly newsletter which included a reminder and I texted everyone the day of. [At meetings] Celine would do an educational Prezi [presentation] and we’d hash out what was coming up as well as have some incredible discussions! When we did special events we did different times so members who can’t always make it could help out there!
Celine: Gaining new members and seeing how great they are always helps! We have a great team of people and they are all wonderful. Having these people around really helps when you feel isolated on campus, which can happen very easily. It also gives us hope for the future of the club. Also, having NCLN there really helps keep us going when we’re struggling.
Q: Sometimes people feel that they either need to be focusing on recruiting and forming their members OR outreach, as if they should be happening separately. Your club has brought them together. Why is that?
Meagan: You need people to be practicing their apologetics as they learn. It’s like Confucius says, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” There’s always more our club members can be learning! We can continue to grow as we reach out and teach our campus WHY the fetus is a human and why humans have value. We can’t let the semesters slip by without at least giving our fellow students some access to the truth.
Celine: I would say that it’s always more effective to do both, because that is the real meaning of community. We want to show not only our members, but also other students that we care about building community, and that involves both building up your current members and reaching out to others. People are more likely to have a positive view of the group if they can feel a sense of community.
Note: Putting into practice (outreach) what your members are learning is key.
Q: What would you say were the three most important things that you did to help increase
your membership AND your outreach?
1) Our weekly Prezi presentations;
2) Chalking in heavy traffic areas on campus;
3) And getting to know our members and keeping in contact with them through the week.
1) One thing we did, which we learned from NCLN, was to be persistent and keep in touch with members personally. It makes a huge difference to them, and it only takes a few moments to do.
2) Another thing is to focus on the efforts of our members, and continue to encourage them. It’s important to acknowledge every single contribution, no matter how big or small.
3) Thirdly, we’ve been working on our communications with other university groups so that we can build a positive image on campus. What is most important about this is to meet with people face to face, and build connections. By doing this, we can reduce fear and assumptions about our club, and be more productive.
Q: What main piece of advice would you like to share with other pro-life groups across Canada?
Meagan: Get to know your members! They’ll feel more involved in the club and be more likely to help you out with events.
Celine: Hang in there! Sometimes it is really hard to be part of such a controversial movement, but in the end it will be worth it. Stick together, work hard, and have fun. And never forget that you’re not alone in this!
Keep up the awesome work, Guelph Life Choice! We can’t wait to see what this new semester brings!