Recruiting is ImportantOn average, a Tribe (or Nation) will lose about 1/3 of its members each year. This is a matter of simple arithmetic -- children spend at most four or five years in the program, then graduate. Some join late; some leave sooner. For a tribe to remain healthy over the long-term, it must maintain a sizable pool of younger children. A large tribe of third-graders will soon become very small if it does not recruit young members.
Recruiting is a Mutual EffortOver the years, I have recruited many new families into the Yomechas program, but only a few of them actually joined my Tribe! Some joined a Guides tribe while I was in a Princesses tribe. Some of the children had playmates in other tribes so they went there. Some of the people lived in different towns. Always remember that recruiting is a mutual effort.
Recruiting is a Year-Round EffortThe prime time to recruit new members is during the summer (so they join when we start our program year in early Fall). But new members can come on-board any time; Sometimes, a family needs to visit a meeting or two first. Recruiting should be a year-round exercise. The Federation is happy to accept mid-year or late-year registrants.
Critical MassMembership tends to snowball. A largetribe gets larger. A small tribe gets smaller. A tribe with fewer than 12 members (dads and kids) is headed for trouble. A tribe with more than 30 members may have trouble of a different kind. "Stability" seems to occur with about 20 or 25 members (dads and kids).
A small tribe should work aggressively to acquire new members. A large tribe should never simply turn-away new members, but it might try to steer some candidates to other smaller tribes. An extremely large tribe might consider undergoing "fission" -- to form two tribes.
Sources of New MembersOur Yomechas Federation conducts several "public" recruiting efforts each year. Those efforts are important. They maintain public awareness of our program -- and we do get new recruits that way. If you are asked to take new members from those sources, welcome them into your tribe. But do not rely on that kind of recruiting as the basic source of your members. You will almost certainly fall short.
Personal ContactBy far, the best way to acquire new members is by personal contact. Over 95% of our members say that is how they were recruited. If you have neighbors with pre-school or kindergarten children, tell them about the program. Invite them to attend a meeting. Follow-up several times if necessary. Also, get to know the parents of your children's playmates -- tell them about the program. And talk to your co-workers.
Canvas Your NeighborhoodIf your tribe needs members, consider simply ringing doorbells in your neighborhood. Introduce yourself. Learn where target-age children live. Invite the parents to visit a meeting. This approach seems blunt, but it is very effective! (It is also a nice way to meet the families who live near you.)
Avoid Unconscious "Screening"Kindergarten-age children are the prime targets for recruiting, but don't ignore other ages. A parent with a four-year-old is a prime candidate -- just a year away. Many of our children join as first-graders. Each year the Federation gains some second-graders and even some third-graders as new members.
Show a Warm WelcomeSometimes, the adult members of a Tribe will become such good friends that they form a "clique". They become a little complacent about welcoming newcomers. They may even decline to accept "cold-call" candidates. Please don't let that happen. Your tribe must have new members to survive. There should always be room for one more member.