Summertime is a quieter season after a long Guiding year (whew!) but our area is taking advantage of tons of opportunities to have fun in the sun while expanding our programs to reach thousands more girls and women.
West Coast Area Council is growing quickly. As the third-largest area council in Canada, we are lucky to have almost 3,400 amazing girls and women involved in our Guiding programs. Made up of six urban communities including Vancouver, our growth is largely thanks to our outreach efforts and the hard work of volunteers. Our members get out into the community, attend festivals, march in parades, and engage in many other public relations activities.
From the Vancouver International Children’s Festival to the upcoming Pride Festival and countless other events, we have had a jam-packed calendar. Summer is the perfect time for us to recruit new members for September – and you can, too! Here are our top West Coast Area tips for growing your membership this summer:
- Decide where to go.
Check out online event calendars of community centres, public libraries, residents’ associations, local newspapers, and family fun listings. Map out where your top recruitment needs are. Do you have lots of spaces available in a new unit? Attend events nearby! Consider your budget, too. Some events are free for non-profits (don’t forget to ask for a special rate), others have a nominal fee, others are more pricey.
Get creative. Even if organizers do not advertise vendor opportunities, let them know the value that Guiding can add to their event. Offer to plan a kids’ craft or game, have Pathfinders or Rangers assist with pre-arranged event activities, or any other idea you can come up with. Event organizers will often waive the fee for a Guiding booth if you can help add something awesome or fill an important need. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!
- Prepare for the event.
Recruit your most enthusiastic Guiders and girls to help staff your booth and engage with the public. Plan to have a minimum of three people at your table at any one time. It helps to have one person stand outside the tent to draw in visitors while others chat with potential members in the cool shade.
Gather gear for your booth. A pop-up tent is a ‘must’ in hot weather to keep your volunteers cool and offer shade to visitors passing by. Many events will offer a 10×10 tent for rent or for free to participating organizations, but where possible, bring your own Girl Guide-branded tent. Try to source banners, display boards, and other helpful items. All of these can often be borrowed from your area or province – get in touch with your public relations advisor or area commissioner.
Pick your promo materials. My go-to giveaways this summer are the girl and adult recruitment brochures and the new rolls of GGC-themed stickers – they can be cut up into individual stickers and handed out to kids, drawing in families to your booth. These items are available from the national Brand Centre. Get in touch with your provincial office for more information.
- The big day.
Girl Guides are always prepared! Bring all your gear, get a good sleep the night before, put on your uniform, and be ready to represent our organization. For hot summer days, bring a full water bottle to stay hydrated, a hat (camp hats are perfect and eye-catching for public events), and a few snacks to share with volunteers.
At your booth, deliver a short elevator pitch, ideally 30 seconds long, that answers the following questions:
What makes us unique? What can we offer girls that no other organization can? Why should girls and women be a part of our programs?
When speaking with parents, highlight the exciting, fun, safe, all-female environment we offer, the fabulous role models that girls are mentored by, and the well-rounded activities we participate in. From science to arts, outdoors, camping, service, and so much more, there’s something for all girls!
For potential volunteers, don’t forget to communicate that no experience is required, helpful training is provided, and that Guiders don’t need to be moms themselves – ‘no kid needed.’ And, of course, that we have tons of fun!
- After the event…
Follow-up immediately with any potential members who expressed interest during the community event.
Give cookies and a card to the event hosts and be sure to say a big ‘thank you!’ for the opportunity to grow your local membership.
And, of course, save the date for next year!
By guest blogger Diamond Isinger. Diamond is the West Coast Area Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada, public relations advisor, and by day, a communications consultant in Vancouver.
What’s your Guiding story? We’d love to share it on the blog! Send your blog post idea to ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca