One of the best recruitment tools each year is your Big Event from the previous year. Here is how it can work to your advantage.
Each time our high school choir, Sonlight, travels on choir tour we make sure that the 8th graders coming up to high school know all about it. Many of you might need to adapt that sentence to be 5th graders coming into your youth choir, or 6th graders coming in—depending on how your ages work.
We have used several variations on this idea. Here is one way to maximize the event.
Say your event is NOT a choir tour, but is a short day trip to a theme park, paint ball course, all-night game center like Dave and Busters. You might get a picture of everyone in the group in front of the large logo of the establishment. IF the group went to a paintball day, make sure the picture is of the ending “look”—just to enhance the sense of “a good time was had by all.”
Then, you can take that picture and use it as a variation of the blog idea (coming August 20, 2014) as a variation of “The Selfie Card” or, as I will describe, “The Us-y Card.” Check this space after August 20 to adapt that idea.
I use our semi-annual choir tour as a huge recruitment. If the trip is domestic (50 states or Puerto Rico), before leaving on the trip I get three sets of mailing labels for the 8th grade students set to come into high school the next year. I make sure that I get members as well as prospects for the church.
In my luggage I pack post card stamps enough for three times the number on that mailing list—so that we can mail 3 cards to every kid.
During the trip I will find the cheapest place to buy post cards for that location. Get the cheapest cards—for one thing they are usually smaller and don’t require extra postage, and, besides, the point is NOT the card—keep reading and you will see what I mean.
The night before the big “write-a-thon” I have all the university singers on the trip, (supplemented with adult sponsors) and we stick the mailing labels on each of the post cards. I also get them to put the post card stamps on the cards. This will take a little while depending on potentially how many kids you have coming into the choir for the next year.
Then, the next night as a part of our “Together” time at the end of the day, I break out enough pens for every student on the trip. I lay out the cards so that they can see the names of the kids.
I ask every student to pick ONE name of a student that they KNOW (say, their best friend’s brother or sister) and, also pick 2 names of kids that they don’t know. The point is that every person is going to write a post card to three kids (hopefully) coming into the choir.
Give good instructions, tell the kids to keep the message SHORT and POSITIVE. It can be as simple as this:
“Hey! _______ (name of 8th grader coming in)
You are going to LOVE being in Sonlight! We go to the coolest cities, sing in amazing places, and really help people with their lives. Make sure that you are at rehearsal on Sunday September 7 at 4:30 in the Choral Hall. I will see you there!” Sign their name.
Graduated seniors can leave off that last line, but make sure the other kids use it.
When the trip is NOT domestic, it gets a little more complicated. (Since you have extra costs associated with international mailing.) For example, in the summer of 2014 Sonlight toured England (see details coming to this blog on August 20). The cost of mailing ONE postcard to the USA was nearly $2.00—just for the postage.
As an alternative, in London, I bought 83 postcards (only ONE for each of the 8th graders coming into high school) and brought them back to Texas. My assistant pre-addressed each card with a mailing label and (USA) postage—much cheaper.
Then, we mailed 3 different cards to our top kids whom we could trust to jot a message and drop postcards in the mail.
If you find yourself needing to do this, make sure that you ask them to mail the cards within 48 hours (perhaps even 24 hours) of receiving them in the mail. You can use the idea that this post card is a PART of the recruiting that you are planning for the fall and you want it to arrive FIRST, before other advertising arrives. So, please mail it today!
One year I forgot to pick up the cards in Budapest prior to leaving, I called our contact there and asked him to go an BUY cheap post cards for me and mail them to me—I sent him money for the cards, and the postage to get them to me.
The reason I tell you about forgetting to buy is this: you might have already returned from your trip to Orlando, or south Texas, east Tennessee, or California. It is not too late to call and ask someone to mail you a package with all the postcards in them. If you remember the name of a card store in the city you were in, they may even charge your card for the mailing to you—just to get them to you for this fall’s promotion.