Mary Binder of the Washington's Tri-Cities Chapter joined our May meeting (in person) and shared some interesting insights about NARFE membership in the state.
In the 1960's, there were 11 chapters in Eastern Washington alone; today there are three: Spokane, Colville, and Tri-Cities. Most NARFE members are national only. The average age of members is 80 years. Where are the newly retired (60-65yo) and why aren't they joining chapters?
The two biggest reasons chapters are closing are 1) lack of communication (no newsletters, website or even personal calls and 2) the members that do participate in chapters are worn out; there is no one who left who wants to lead. Solutions: Chapters need communication; they need to be visible and communication needs to be frequent, even repetitive. To assist with burnout, we need to think outside the box, even share positions for chapters to survive.
To attract new members we need to tell current employees (not yet retired) about NARFE and we need to focus on people nearing retirement. Tri-Cities has invested in a presence with the Tri-Cities Business Journal who promote a seniors expo with 600-700 seniors attending. It may have a $900 charge, but seems to have been worth it in recruiting new members. Tri-Cities has also approached Rotary, senior centers, and Veterans Affairs.
Mary passed out a thought-provoking card so that members could list events and people who might assist with attracting new members. She suggested chapters consider subscribing to the local Business Journal, the Chamber of Commerce, the Visitors Convention Bureau, and attending postal conventions. She suggested developing communications material for booths at events including pamphlets and business cards.
Mary also shared a NARFE Elevator Speech intended for those scheduled and unscheduled encounters with potential members. The speech includes what NARFE is, what the organization does, and what value members receive by joining. The elevator speech can be accessed on the website under Members. Take a look and consider using it.
Everyone at the meeting appreciated Mary's messages, giving the membership and the Board food for thought regarding the Spokane Chapter. Thanks for the jump start, Mary!