A few weeks ago the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement organized a student involvement fair. The fair was an opportunity for organizations to recruit new members. It is not enough for organizations to try and gain new members though; they have to get them to stay and keep them involved in order for the organization to grow.S.A.I.L., which stands for Students Actively Involved in Leadership held a program called “Keeping Members Involved,” on Tuesday evening, February 3 in Sykes Student Union.
S.A.I.L. regularly puts on programs to help students and organizations on campus enhance their leadership skills. Leonarda Parente, a leadership consultant, and Alyssa Polakowski, a certified student leader, facilitated this interactive session.
Parente and Polakowski began the session with an icebreaker game that involved participants throwing around a ball with questions on it. Participants would answer a question about themselves to help and try to make them feel more comfortable and relaxed.
After the icebreaker game, the facilitators proceeded to identify four main objectives leaders should keep in mind when it comes to keeping members involved.
These objectives were: making sure the leaders in an organization know their group members; keeping the group members motivated; learning and using various tips and techniques to keep members involved; and remembering the importance of having fun.
Parente and Polakowski first addressed the importance of knowing the group members. When leaders of organizations become friends with group members, it helps the new members to feel welcomed.
“Getting involved is so much easier if you feel welcomed,” Parente said.
Meetings are a good way to meet and get to know new members, but learning about members beyond a professional level is beneficial in trying to create personal relationships.
Both facilitators also mentioned the advantages of doing icebreaker activities like the one our group did at the beginning of the session. Icebreakers allow group members to get to know one another a little better.
Keeping members motivated was the next objective that Parente and Polakowski addressed. They stressed how crucial it is that organization leaders are enthusiastic themselves because their enthusiasm could become contagious and the new members will become just as excited about the organization.
Another way to keep members motivated is by personally acknowledging them, especially in front of group members. A new member may be enticed to help more with an organization if one of the leaders compliments him/her specifically, and asks for their help on future projects.
Program participants also learned different tips and techniques in keeping members involved.
Giving members responsibility to helps them feel as though they have contributed more was one tip Parente and Polakowski suggested. They said that people tend to support what they help create, therefore they will become more enthusiastic about something if they are really a part of it.
Forming subcommittees was another tip offered because subcommittees help members feel more included and comfortable especially in larger organizations.
Other ideas organization leaders should keep in mind are remembering that members are leaders too, believing in the potential of every member and knowing that an organization will become stronger when its members are active, committed and resourceful.
Parente and Polakowski offered a lot of suggestions to helping keep members involved.
The most important suggestion they offered, in their eyes, was to always have fun.
Being able to enjoy quality time with members both inside and outside of the organization helps to keep members engaged. Organizing socials or just taking the time to talk to a member can really make a big difference in his/her attitude towards the group.
A group is only as strong as all its members, so keeping all of them involved can only strengthen the organizations capabilities. For more information on S.A.I.L. that can improve a student organization, visit http://sailwcu.weebly.com/index.html.
Anna Moronski is a third-year student majoring in communicaion studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at