How will recruitment work this year? If you haven’t asked this question yourself, you’ve likely heard it asked at least several times over the past few months. With many communities practicing social distancing—or even stay-at-home orders—it’s no secret that introducing more families to Scouting could be a challenge, but Scouters are ready! Now, more than ever, the world needs Scouting, and the organization is at a pivotal moment to grow and find new opportunities to unite our communities.
There is no question that the impact of COVID-19 has created a unique and unprecedented challenge for recruiting new members to the Scouting movement, but rising to the occasion is what Scouters do best. In recent weeks, BSA professionals from across the country have been sharing their knowledge of what works well in their councils. These insights, as well as the new ideas they can inspire in your own council, will help us deliver the benefits of BSA’s programs to more youth than ever before.
Take a look at these Fall 2020 recruitment ideas, curated from councils around the country, and your creative process will be rolling before you know it! Also be sure to follow the hyperlinks under each section to get the full scope of each Scouter’s perspective.
Longhorn Council district executive, Paul Verwers suggests:
- Track your recruitment data. Know how many Scouts each school/unit recruited at its sign-up nights the year before. This will let you know if the pack is on track or underperforming on expectations.
- Communicate with your fall sign-up chair and district membership committee. We have great volunteers in the BSA, but they still need support and guidance. Verify that everyone knows the sign-up night location [or URL], schedule, and any local health guidance.
- Are you are doing virtual Scout talks or sending previously recorded videos to schools? If so, ensure that the schools have the capabilities to share those videos and that the videos have the correct info on how to join BSA. (Find downloadable Scout Talk videos for youth and 5 Questions about Scouting videos for parents in the BSA Brand Center)
- Work with your training chair to set up new leader training. Have several training opportunities throughout the fall to help strengthen their skills and confidence.
- Work with your commissioner core. Engage your commissioners to support your membership efforts. Having a strong commissioner team is a key to keep your units active and in good health.
Read more about Paul’s take on the road ahead in his piece, Fall recruitment strategies from the pros.
Faye Hammond, Assistant Director of Field Service at Atlanta Area Council recommends:
- Encourage units to be ready to receive online applications.
- Develop plans to deliver your buzz-up (video) via closed-circuit television – it may be your only avenue.
- Are your units prepared for recruitment with items such as a unit program calendar, year-round budget, fact sheet about the unit, leadership contact sheet, and an updated BeAScout pin?
Peggy Durbin, Assistant Scout Executive of South Florida Council proves her eye for strategy with these tips:
- Call your principals to let them know Scouting has been active and promoting continuing education through our programs during these challenging times. Tell them we look forward to being able to reconnect again this fall…
- Reach out to your unit leaders and families and ask them to produce short video clips of their Scouts engaged in the fun Scouting activities they have been doing throughout the lock-down and encourage them to share those videos with their family and friends.
- Both of these suggestions are also in video form that can be uploaded for a virtual Program Kick-off via Facebook.
Get the full set of tips from these three brilliant BSA pros in their post on fall recruiting strategies.
Connecticut Rivers Council Field Director Sean Fogle made this customer-centric recommendation:
- Make content relevant: Our families at home are suffering in unseen ways. Providing relevant content into their homes and at their own pace is key. Everything we have done has been designed around healthy living tips or ways to make life at home more enjoyable. For instance, we interviewed a professional board game designer on his favorite games to play, and we encouraged a family game night to get away from the electronics. It is important to also make it fun through the whole process. Our virtual summer camp introduced in early May is called Camp Kinda-Like-A. We have a nice theme song and all marketing for it has been light and fun. We have a couple hundred kids signed up for it already. You can watch our Spirit Week videos here.
Learn more about Sean’s approach to ‘forging the roadmap’ for virtual program delivery in his piece, 7 Steps to Success With Virtual Program Initiatives.
Field Director for Last Frontier Council Carl Hanke’s tips are sure to inspire socially distant resourcefulness:
- Host drive-thru sign-up events. If schools do not allow us to use the cafeteria due to cleaning policies, have a drive-thru sign-up in the parking lot.
- Make videos to use as digital school talks/sign-ups. If we are not allowed to visit students in classrooms or assemblies, videos can be used to reach them.
- Partner with online schools.
- Partner with other digital events. Use other youth activities that hold online meetings to promote Scouting.
Check out what else Carl had to say in his article, Fall Membership Plans & Executions are More Important Than Ever Before.
That’s not all—keep your eyes open for a new playbook covering the basics of virtual recruitment coming soon!
Collaborate and make an impact
Remember, the keys to effective recruiting are to Be Prepared, inspire others, and provide recruitment ideas. Do you have any tips or ideas that have worked well for you? Share your success stories (or upcoming plans) in the comments below! You never know what new and exciting ideas your input might spark.