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Organization Recruitment and Retention

We, in the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement, understand the difficulties that go along with organization recruitment and retention. You are not alone. Many organizations on campus experience issues with retaining members, keeping members involved, and recruiting new members each year. We are here to help you throughout the school year in creating fun and interesting ways to recruit new members and keep the members you already have.

Recruitment Tips 

  • Focus on quality, not quantity when recruiting members for your organization. After all, excellent members are key to a successful organization.
  • When recruiting new members, remember to include all members in the process.
  • Potential members only know the information you give them about your organization. Be as transparent as possible as you describe who you are and what you do. The best information to give them can include:
    • Organization's purpose/mission statement
    • Previous successes and achievements
    • Examples of activities the organization usually participates in
    • Plans for the future
    • Membership expectations/requirements
    • Membership benefits
  • Make new members feel welcome and comfortable!
  • Identify the who, what, when, where, and how:
    • Who are you trying to reach? Are there specific students you are looking to recruit?
    • What is your goal? How many students are you trying to recruit?
    • When will you start recruitment? Recruiting new members should be a year-round goal.
    • Where will you recruit? Is this a campus-wide recruitment or are you trying to target a certain group?
    • How will you stand out amongst other organizations to new recruits? Talk to current members to see what attracted them to the organization; perhaps they can give you ideas to reach others like them.

Retention Tips

The beginning of each semester is a great time to think about recruitment and retention activities. Prospective members are looking for ways to get more involved in their community, and your organization could be a great outlet for them. At this time, it is also good to reconnect with current members through social events or retreats. If recruitment coincides with such events, this just allows new members to also get in on the fun and communicate with current members in a stress-free environment.

  • Retention is an ongoing, daily process, but there is no way for every organization to keep every one of its members. As an executive board member or advisor, you cannot please everyone. Just do your best and make the right decisions for your organization.
  • Hold an orientation-like first meeting or an informational meeting early in the semester/year so members have a better idea of what the organization does. This way, they will be more likely to stay engaged if they know the group's collective goals.
  • Give members responsibility. Executive board members cannot do everything, and they shouldn't have to. Use your resources (your members!) in areas where they will be most helpful and productive. Also, this will give those members reasons to stay in the organization and feel proud of the work they do.
  • Provide positive reinforcement. Let members know when they have done a good job. Recognize them in some way, either with a simple thank you or with an award, if that is something your organization would like to do.
  • Put on events that do not involve the work your organization does. Have a retreat or fun after school-like event where members can get to know one another.

Questions about Recruitment and Retention

When should my organization start planning for next year?
  • It is always a good idea to think about the upcoming year before the end of your current academic year.
  • Keep in mind ideas you might have for recruitment in the fall.
Are there any rules against recruiting students in the middle of a semester? Absolutely not.
  • Recruitment should occur 365 days a year! Constantly be open to new ideas to reach more students.
What are some easy ways to recruit members?
  • Be part of the Involvement Fair! The Office of Student Leadership and Involvement puts on a fair at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters where any and all organizations can set up a table and talk to prospective recruits.
  • Organizations can hold interest meetings open to prospective recruits or reserve tables in the HUB-Robeson Center to hand out information.
  • You can reach out to like-minded organizations or other organizations you might be able to work with.
  • One of the best ways for organizations to reach out to students is to use incentives and/or giveaways.
Does my organization have to have a minimum amount of members? Is there a maximum amount of members we can have?
  • You must have at least ten active members to be considered a recognized organization at Penn State University Park.
  • There is no maximum.
How can I keep existing members excited and involved?
  • There are many ways to keep your members excited about the work your organization is doing.
  • First, plan a retreat. (See: Planning a Retreat)
  • Have all members get involved from the start.
  • Delegate roles so members feel a sense of ownership towards the work you do.
  • Other events could include, but are not limited to, recognition programs, team building activities, leadership development activities, and social activities outside of doing work but still in a controlled, substance-free environment.
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Recruitment & Retention
Penn State Student Affairs
Student Leadership and Involvement

103 HUB-Robeson Center
University Park, PA 16802