Any successful Cub Scout pack can tell you the secret to staying strong is recruiting lots of new members each spring and fall. Here are tips from experienced leaders for growing your numbers each year:
Recruit the right help.
Has your pack got an experienced professional marketer, salesperson, or even small business owner who understands how to promote? People who do sales and marketing for a living are ideally suited to understand how to recruit “customers”, which are the children and parents who are eligible to join. Our pack has a volunteer for recruiting and one for registration. The latter is responsible for tracking registrations and doing rechartering. The former attracts new families to the group. Those who are best at selling (recruiters) are not always most talented at tracking paperwork (registrars). If done properly, each role takes sufficient time to justify its own committee position.
Plan well in advance your recruiting night for both fall and spring recruiting seasons. Avoid conflicts with back-to-school nights, sports sign-up events, or other community wide events. Attend council-wide training in the months before, and put up posters in prominent community locations to raise awareness. Sending newspaper releases (download our Press Release Template to help you get started) to local papers and news websites at least three weeks in advance of the recruitment event increases the number of readers who will see and act on the announcement. Obtain membership applications and other materials from the council office well in advance. In other words, think ahead of all the necessary steps to have a successful effort. See a list of the timing for recruiting at this website.
Want to recruit at schools? Get to know the principals.
Many schools have policies against community organizations recruiting on campus, but school principals generally have wide latitude to bend these rules. You can build a relationship with a principal by having your pack do simple service projects for the school—something most community groups will never do—like picking up trash, organizing the school’s lost-and-found, or helping with a bake sale. Dropping off a box of microwave Scout popcorn is another good way to “butter up” the school office staff when you pay them a visit.
Is a member of your pack on the PTA? If so, that’s the best person to ask for a chance to do in-class recruiting or to distribute flyers. If you are allowed to do in-class recruiting, which is incredibly effective, send a uniformed leader with pictures of Scouts doing fun activities like these, which you’re welcome to download and use. When in front of the class, ask the kids, “Who wants to shoot a bow and arrow? Who wants to go fishing? Who wants to camp out in a tent?” And then, “You all do? Well, then who wants to join Cub Scouts?” Every hand will go up (including the girls!), which gives you a chance to hand out flyers and tell them how they can join.
Be organized on join night.
At your recruiting event, make sure all leaders are there, in uniform, and ready to talk with new families. Be sure you have plenty of copies of forms and a sample calendar of pack events. Remember terms like “pack”, “den”, “Cubmaster”, etc, are confusing to new families. Be sure to talk in plain, friendly language. Have a page on your website like this one that explains to families what it takes to join Cub Scouts. Consider publishing a Scouting glossary like this one. Feel free to plagiarize these documents.
Follow-up and follow-through.
After a family has agreed to join, immediately make sure they get enrolled in the pack email announcement list or mailing list, even if they have not yet paid dues. Make sure they receive regular contact from their den leader and the pack, so there’s no information lacking. Wait until the right time to ask them to volunteer, rather than overwhelming them at the outset. Most will happily play a role once they are “all in.”
Above all, be friendly and available to the community around you to successfully recruit. Take extra steps to communicate clearly and thoroughly. And have an open, friendly approach to newcomers. New families deserve extra special attention as they enter the exciting new world of Scouting.
You can also check out this article by Bryan on Scouting for additional tips on Cub Scout recruiting!