Students involved in our collegiate Autism Speaks U chapters are constantly looking for ways to increase membership. Check out the 7 tips below to keep chapter members engaged and involved!
1. Be 5 Steps Ahead. The executive board is always working “behind the scenes” to map out the chapter’s plans in advance. Before the semester/quarter starts, have the events and meetings planned, so students can mark their calendars for everything.
2. Share the Goals. If the chapter is aiming to secure 25 new members in Fall and raise $5,000 let members know how they can contribute to the chapter’s success, so everyone is working together.
- Ex: Current members are asked to bring one new person to the next chapter meeting as he/she can become a potential member.
- Ex: The chapter is aiming to raise $1,000 by selling 100 tickets for $10/each. Have each member bring 3 friends, so 25 members are bringing 75 additional people.
3. Offer Incentives. What do college students love? Free food, t-shirts and drinks. Offer pizza, snacks or baked goods at the first chapter meeting to get students in the door.
4. Educate Members (this is so important there are 3 items!).
To get students to care, they need to understand autism and the organization they are supporting. At the beginning of the chapter meeting, pass out Autism Speaks U fact sheets and show a short video as an overview to Autism Speaks.
Play this 60 second clip, as it shows a challenge that some individuals on the autism spectrum face every day. Then discuss how it made everyone feel, and brainstorm ways the chapter can raise more autism awareness.
- Reach out to your Autism Speaks contact to have him/her or a Committee Member, come speak at a meeting to answer questions and put a “face” to the organization.
5. Connect! Start each meeting by asking members (new and returning) to share their personal connection to autism (i.e. family member, friend, volunteer, etc.). This helps the chapter to bond and allows everyone to open up and tell their story.
6. Discuss Newsworthy Topics. Before going over chapter logistics start each meeting of with a topic and open it up for discussion. For ideas, download the Autism Speaks app and sign up for the Autism Speaks Bi-Weekly Science Digest.
7. Keep in Contact. Take down everyone’s contact information, so the Secretary can send them meetings minutes and the Recruitment Chair can contact them about the next meeting. Get everyone’s cell number AND email address, as some might prefer texts instead of emails.
- Tip: Use GroupMe to send mass texts to remind students before e-board and general meetings.