SHCA Chapter Toolkit - Membership
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Recruitment and Retention
Volunteer Recruitment and Participation
Every chapter should continually strive to determine what its membership base should consist of (including both active and prospective members) and how it can best meet the overall needs of its membership in the changing world of patient advocacy, healthcare risk management and patient safety.
Examples of industries/fields/roles that many chapters have had success in drawing potential members from include but are not limited to:
- Healthcare Patient Representative (acute, LTAC, SNF)
- Others that may have the responsibility for complaints and grievances but are not called Patient Advocate/Rep. , i.e. Service Excellence, Guest Services, Patient Services, Patient Experience, etc.
- Customer Service Representatives in healthcare related fields (insurance, home care)
- Local students involved in Patient Advocacy
- Academic faculty involved in Patient Advocacy,
- Ethics, Risk management and Safety
- Or as determined by Board or Executive directors
- Other Healthcare disciplines such as Social Work, Chaplains, Case Mangers
Some chapters conduct annual surveys of their current membership to determine what educational, networking and other objectives the chapter should set in order to meet the needs of its members. Another way to capture this information is through the initial and/or renewal membership application. By obtaining a sound demographic profile of members as they join and updating it regularly, chapters will have a better idea of the types of products and services that will have the greatest appeal.
What items should be included on the membership application? For starters, include:
- Phone and fax numbers (work and home (optional))
- E-mail address (work and home (optional))
- Interest in joining an existing committee (education, bylaws, membership, website, government relations, publications, social, etc)
- SHCA membership and APEx designation status or interest in pursuing
Food for thought: Getting new members involved early in committee participation allows new ideas to be generated and is likely to be a great retention tool as well.
The above basic information should be included in a published or online membership directory as well.
But beyond that, it may also be helpful to request the following info:
- Highest level of education completed
- Years of experience in the field
- Type of employer (i.e. hospital, long term care, insurance broker, law firm)
added to demographic area if you are tracking
- Special areas of interest or expertise
If age, gender or race questions are included, they must be noted as optional, and you should indicate that you are requesting the information to maintain a demographic profile of members. Due to today's "identity theft" issues, it's not a good idea to request Social Security numbers. This information should not be published and should be noted on the application form this information will be kept confidential and used for tracking purposes.
The application form becomes a permanent record of information about your membership base and helps determine which category of membership a prospective member best fits -- or even if they qualify to join at all. If you have categories of membership, make sure you spell them out on the application form along with the specific requirements for each category (see details in the Dues and Categories section).
Chapters usually either allow their membership committee and/or board members to make decisions regarding membership eligibility issues.
Click here for samples of chapter membership application (SHCA, California)
Many chapters have created membership categories and delineate the criteria for these in their bylaws. Some examples of membership categories include:
- Active (voting)
- Non-voting status:
- Associate (those not involved full time in patient advocacy, can include vendors)
Some advantages of having different categories is the ability to charge reduced membership dues depending on the category -- for example, an honorary membership (with reduced or no dues) could be bestowed upon professionals who have retired from the field but have been active members in the past in an effort to continue having their expertise available to the chapter.
If different membership categories are created, the chapter should determine how voting rights will be handled for purposes of its business meetings held. It is also important to consider if dues will be prorated depending on when the member officially joins the chapter and if renewal of memberships will be performed on a common annual date or staggered calendar basis. Using a common renewal date facilitates the bookkeeping requirements for the chapter designee in charge of collecting annual dues.
For information on chapter dues range, please contact SHCA at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many chapters maintain membership databases (both active and prospective) to track demographic information, to use for mailing labels for chapter meeting notices and emails, and to facilitate membership renewal notices, tracking and dues payments.
It is recommended that both work and home information be included in the database in case the member changes employment and/or to give the member the choice of which address is preferred for correspondence. Membership directories can then be made available in a “members only” section of the chapter’s web site or in hard copy if no such web site has been created.
Members should be given the option of keeping their contact information confidential and thus not included in any printed or online resources, if desired. Membership rosters should not be distributed to local vendors without the approval of the membership as a whole.
Membership records requested from the chapters by SHCA are kept for internal SHCA purposes only.
Food for thought: Due to leadership transition within the chapter, an idea to facilitate transfer of the membership database from year to year between officers/committee chairs is to purchase a laptop on behalf of the chapter and the necessary software to maintain the database. This allows for one central database to be maintained and updated, easier transfer of the laptop and the information it contains, and less dependence on particular software releases that individuals maintaining the data have access to. The database can also be saved to a CD and given to the incoming member who will maintain the database. Another option is to have a Database Manager position on the board who is a non-voting member. This position maintains the database.
Recruitment and Retention
Word of mouth can be your most effective tool in recruiting new members. Encourage current members to refer colleagues for membership.
- Contact hospitals who do not have members in your chapter to inquire who fulfills the role of Patient Rep. and invite them to an education program or chapter meeting.
- Provide membership information on educational program brochures.
- Provide space on membership applications to refer a colleague or coworker.
- Reward current members for recruitment efforts.
1. Gift certificate or discounted dues for referral of members)
2. Award for member recruiting most new members during annual membership drive
- Gather information for potential members from education program registration.
- Create a chapter web site with a link to and from SHCA. Potential members can view information regarding membership and educational opportunities. They can also learn about resources and benefits associated with SHCA membership.
- Invite potential members to regional meetings as guests
One of the best ways to recruit and retain members is by providing excellent and pertinent educational programs. However, flexibility is often necessary in order to motivate attendance at such educational programs. Ideas include polling of members on the best time of day, frequency, length and location of meetings. For chapters with large geographic coverage, it may be advisable to rotate the location of meetings to allow for equal participation and time/travel considerations.
Another option may be to have regional meetings, example in California we have an Education Day in the North and one in the South on different days so we can have the same speaker at both sessions. Other states have sessions in 4 regional areas. Reason being, their demographic location making it difficult for participates to get to one part of the region over the other.
- Gift certificate for contributions/successful efforts made on behalf of the chapter or the patient advocacy community as a whole.
- Chapter award for member making the greatest contribution/advancements in the field.
- Scholarship to SHCA annual conference for person making the greatest contribution to the chapter and/or to the President and President-Elect to show appreciation for their service to the chapter.
- Excellent and frequent communication with members can help retain membership.
- Utilize email whenever possible – create a list serv which is the easiest way to send out information. Consider blind copying your list serv so everyone is not bombarded with a lot of emails from everyone. Having one person responsible to send out emails is a good way to keep track of what is being sent out to your members.
- Newsletters are an effective means of communicating chapter and education program information not only to current members, but also prospective members.
- Information regarding state or local developments from a regulatory or claims perspective has been found to be especially useful at the local chapter level, including opportunities to facilitate advocacy for key legislation under consideration.
- Consider audiotapes or transcripts of educational sessions for members unable to attend meetings due to geographical distance or time constraints
• Host/advertise one of the SHCA webinars at an announced location for all chapter members and then network/brainstorm after the session on how the information is applicable to the members who attended.
Food for thought: Some chapters communicate with prospective members via e-mail only to save on mailing costs associated with meeting and membership renewal notices, newsletters, publications, etc., that are sent out to their active membership on a routine basis.
SHCA membership surveys indicate that networking opportunities rank high on the list of why their members join and stay active in local chapters as well.
Some ideas to facilitate chapter networking and member satisfaction include:
- Name tags and introduction of new members at each chapter meeting.
- Chapter or holiday socials in addition to regular educational and business meetings.
- Mentoring programs for those new to the healthcare patient advocacy role.
- Providing access to membership roster.
- Scheduled get-togethers at the SHCA annual conference.
- Posting of employment opportunities on chapter’s website
- Having a buddy program for new members at Educational functions or conferences.
- On welcoming a new member, have the board send a welcome email listing all board members as resource people.
Develop committees strengths Look at your committee members for future Board leaders. Seeing how committee members interact presents an opportunity to look for future board members.
Below are some suggestions for enabling a positive committee member experience with your organization, and connecting the right people in the right place.
Prepare volunteer job descriptions Naturally, the descriptions should identify the responsibilities of the position. However, it is a good idea to identify the skill set required for the position as well as the benefits to the committee member in accepting the position. Deadlines, if known, should also be identified in the job description.
Click here for sample committee job descriptions
Recruit early and often Make announcements at each meeting that committee members are always needed for committee work. When committee members come forward, follow through with placement on a committee or referral to the committee chair. Key to recruitment is to not lose the momentum by placing the burden of contact on the committee member. Have the committee chair talk with the committee member immediately or have him or her follow up as soon as possible with the potential committee member.
Highlight the skill set, not just the job When recruiting, it is a good idea to appeal to the potential committee member's interests. For example, when recruiting for newsletter committee members, do not just say we need committee members for the newsletter, highlight that fact that you are looking for people who enjoy writing or keeping up with current events in patient advocacy. Also look for members that have skill set for Word Publishing, graphics and/or design layout.
Put their name in lights People like to be recognized for their work, publicly if possible. Make recognition for committee and chapter work an agenda item at each meeting. Thank your committee members in writing in the newsletter and if time allows, send a personal note or e-mail saying how much you appreciate their commitment to the chapter.
Research in behavioral psychology shows that employee performance and retention are strongly linked to consistent, appropriate positive reinforcement of behaviors that promote the organization’s goals.
It would be reasonable to extrapolate this statement to apply to SHCA chapter goals and member performance and retention. Therefore, every chapter would be well served to develop a member recognition program.
When an individual feels they serve a purpose and are being noticed for doing a good job, they will embrace the organization’s mission, goals and values, work above their standards, and be willing to put forth the extra effort for the organization
When developing a recognition program, it is important to think through the following issues.
What is the chapter's goal in recognizing individuals?
Is the chapter attempting to motivate volunteerism among the membership? Is it attempting to retain and grow membership? Is the chapter merely interested in recognizing those who have done more for the chapter than other members, or perhaps more for the profession? These types of questions must be asked before proceeding with development of the member recognition program.
What does the chapter want to recognize?
Does it want to recognize significant volunteer efforts over the course of the current year or significant volunteer effort over multiple years (a Lifetime Achievement type award), or both?
How will the decision be made on who should be recognized?
Will there be membership driven nominations and membership voting for the recognition award or will the chapter board make the decision? There are pro's and con's to both methods. Voting by the membership has the appearance of being less biased, however, boards may be in a better position than the general membership to know the level of service of each member. A variation on the above might include a nomination list developed by the board or nominating committee which is then voted on by the membership.
How will the individual be recognized?
There are numerous ways to recognize individuals. They can be given a trophy, plaque or other commemorative item with their name and accomplishment engraved upon it. They can also be given money or gift certificates in nominal or significant amounts. When awarding monetary amounts, it is important to consider the tax implications both for the chapter and the recipient. Another well-appreciated form of recognition is a tuition scholarship to the annual SHCA conference or the local chapter annual conference.
What should the recognition award be called?
This answer depends on what the chapter chooses to recognize. If it is a lifetime achievement type award, they may want to call it the Patient Advocacy of the Year Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award or the Distinguished Service Award. (Consider naming your award after the individual who founded your chapter.) If it is for service over the course of the current year, they may want to call it the Workhorse Award or Volunteer of the Year Award.
When should the award be given?
This depends on the reason for the award and the type of award to be given. If the award is given to recognize service during a specific year, the award should be given as close as possible to the end of that service year. However, if the recognition is in the form of a scholarship, it needs to be awarded in time for the recipient to make use of it. If it is a lifetime achievement type award, it can likely be awarded at any time during the chapter year.
Click here for a sample chapter recognition program brochure
Emeritus Recognition Programs
A separate recognition program that chapters may want to consider implementing is that of bestowing emeritus status on longstanding or retiring members.
If a chapter decides to implement this type of program, it will need to decide on the qualifying event. That is, will someone be made a member emeritus only after they have been a chapter member for over twenty years, thirty years, or only upon retirement or some combination thereof?
Another decision to be made is what exactly does this status bestow upon the recipient? Is their annual membership fee waived or will they be allowed to attend the annual seminar free of charge, perhaps they will not be charged for monthly meetings or all of the above. These are all things to consider prior to implementing this type of recognition program.