by Lisa Bennet Haigney, Managing Editor
Advocacy organizations like NOW often experience a burst of new members when a particular event—such as Anita Hill's testimony against Clarence Thomas—inspires people to take action. Day in and day out, however, a strong membership must be cultivated if the organization's grassroots base is to thrive.
New members are the key to the growth, viability and vitality of NOW. Part of our work at the NOW Action Center is focused on keeping established members and inviting new ones. But this is a venture in which every member and chapter of NOW can and should participate. Membership recruitment is a great chapter fundraiser, and members who are recruited by and affiliated with a local chapter are more likely to become activists and remain longtime members.
The 1998 NOW Mega-Membership Drive was kicked off on April 3—Equal Pay Day—and runs through July 3, just before NOW's Women's Rights Convention and Vision Summit in Rochester, N.Y. This is NOW's second annual Mega-Membership Drive. Last year's drive culminated at the Memphis, Tenn., National Conference where a number of chapters, states and activists collected prizes in addition to the new members they'd already won. Some small chapters doubled and tripled their ranks while several large chapters each recruited more than 65 new activists.
The goals of the drive are obvious: attract new members, increase NOW's clout as the country's leading feminist organization and stimulate the spirit of friendly competition.
"NOW is its members," said President Patricia Ireland. "When we lobby members of Congress on the new Violence Against Women Act, when we demand that businesses provide women-friendly workplaces, when we call women of color and allies to a summit, it is NOW's strong membership that lends power to our petitions. The more members we have, the further women will go."
The rules are simple and the pay-off is big:
• For every ten new members a local chapter or state organization recruits between April 3 and July 3, it will receive one chance in a drawing for three prizes: First prize = $1,000 in cash Second prize = a new laser printer Third prize = a new fax/phone/answering machine • The individual who recruits the most new members will receive a lifetime membership in NOW worth $1,000.
• The chapter with the best retention during the past year will receive a bonus prize. Two representatives from that chapter will be guests on our special Women's Rights Tour of Rochester and Seneca Falls, N.Y. These designees will get to meet and talk with dynamic feminists, tour historically significant sites like Susan B. Anthony's home and the site of the 1848 Women's Convention, plus get a free hotel room during the tour (see above).
Vice President Membership Karen Johnson is excited about adding members to NOW's rolls. "I, personally, will be out signing up new members wherever and whenever I can. If each NOW member were to bring in just one new activist, we would double the size of our entire organization. How's that for a challenge?"
Please note that some contest restrictions apply and there are special forms for chapter use, so be sure to consult the official rules. For contest rules and further information, visit the chapter section of NOW's web site at http://www.now.org/chapters/internal (the confidential password for this site is distributed every month in the chapter roster mailing) or call the NOW Action Center at 202-331-0066.
The sooner you start recruiting new members, the more chances you ll have to win, so get going!