Student Organization Officers Guide

Member Recruitment and Retention


All student organizations offer unique, relevant, and exciting opportunities for students. However, with so many options for students to choose from, it can be difficult to recruit and retain new members. This page is designed to help organizations connect with prospective members, encourage them to join, and promote ongoing membership.


Recruitment Best Practices

  • Know your “pitch.” All organization members should be able to communicate a few key points that interest the audience and set the organization apart from others. This is less about what the club is and more about what it does or what it means. Does it provide unique experiences? What do members like most about it? What is it trying to accomplish? Beyond the name, what is the organization about?
  • Promote your organization using the Advertising and Promotion (link to this section) resources described in the Officers Guide. Use inclusive imagery to encourage all students to consider the organization.
  • Host and advertise interest meetings. Many prospective members are nervous to attend a regular meeting. Hosting a meeting specifically for these students may attract more participation.
  • Be welcoming! Work to learn prospective students’ names. At each meeting, assign members to welcome new attendees and make them feel comfortable. Follow up with those who visit your table or attend a meeting to ask about their interest and if they have any questions.
  • Participate in Mix & Mingle and ORG-stravaganza! Involvement fairs.
  • Engage in campus activities, including intramural sports, Homecoming, Move-In, and SOLO Events Committee events. This will increase your visibility and show prospective members that the organization is active and fun.


Member Engagement and Retention

To create an organization that attracts and retains members, officers and advisors must reflect on the ways in which the organization meets members’ needs. The framework described below, adapted from Sara Boatman’s GRAPE Theory of Motivation, is informed by five common reasons students join and stay in organizations.

G — Growth

Students want to feel that the organization is helping them develop skills, gain knowledge, expand their network, and become more confident. What are members getting out of their experience? Are members able to take on leadership roles or projects to gain skills?

R — Recognition

Students appreciate being recognized for their effort and contributions to the organization. Member of the Month awards, end of the year awards, and “shout outs” during regular meetings can go a long way to helping members feel part of the organization. Recognition does not have to apply only to organization-related efforts. Some clubs make it a priority to celebrate their members’ good grades and other personal achievements. Awards and shout-outs not only impact those being recognized, but also motivate others to contribute in similar ways. Finally, take advantage of opportunities for the organization to be recognized. Receiving an award from the University of from a group’s national organization is a great way to increase members’ sense of pride and achievement.

A — Achievement

Students want to feel that they helped the organization achieve its goals. Whether the organization seeks to host a new event, win a competition, or recruit a certain number of new members, leaders should find ways for everyone to contribute and thank them for their efforts. Leaders should also seek to celebrate small wins, including running an effective meeting, effective social media posts, and positive feedback from campus partners, taking time to describe how members’ efforts made these accomplishments possible.

P — Participation

Organizations should make it as easy as possible to get involved. Strategies may include early and accurate communication about upcoming meetings and activities, tasks and roles that can be delegated, and opportunities for members to work on tasks that align with their interests. The organization should also work to involve members in decision-making.

E — Enjoyment

Being in a student organization should be fun! Organizations can foster enjoyment by promoting meaningful relationships among members, facilitating fun activities during meetings, and carefully planning events to maximize a positive experience. Many organizations find that doing something as a group that is not related to their mission provides memorable experiences and builds teamwork. Consider registering as an intramural team, doing community service as a group, or seeing a play or movie together.


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