Membership drives are useful for expanding an organization or simply increasing the name recognition of an organization. And they are used by all types of organizations. Here are some guidelines any group can follow.

Decide on how many members you want to join your organization. It is important that each prospective new member is excited about joining the organization and has a specific role to contribute to its functioning. Otherwise, it will be difficult to explain why a prospective member should join, and the weak message could turn a number of prospective members off from the organization. For example, a number of organizations nationwide sponsor an AIDS Walk for Life, in which people contribute funds to research ways to combat AIDS based on how many people choose to "Walk for Life." The membership drive to join the walk is essentially infinite, with each person walking having the opportunity to contribute to the organization.

Choose a place to conduct your membership drive. The area should be highly concentrated with the type of person you hope to join your organization. An area is useless if it is packed with people, but not the kind of people you seek for your organization. For example, an AIDS Walk for Life membership drive is conducted most frequently at colleges or in parks--two locations where one can find people that have the free time to contribute to the organization or at least clearly enjoy walking in the outdoors. As another example, the military conducts membership drives at colleges or in high schools, two areas where most of the population has not yet made career-related decisions.

Make the membership process as simple as possible. This step is somewhat optional and dependent on what level of commitment and how much time a new member would be expected to commit to the organization. For example, fraternities and sororities at college frequently hold the equivalent of membership drives; however, the membership process itself is rather difficult, because the organizations are highly selective about who they want in. Alternatively, AARP runs membership drives through the mail and online almost exclusively, because their target members are too busy to attend membership drives in person or more easily reachable at home.

Educate your staff on everything related to the organization (such as the purpose and future of the organization and the actual practice of conducting the membership drive). Your goal here is to ensure that each of your staff members can answer a slew of organization-related questions and be confident in the process of recruiting new members. Type and print out a "Frequently Asked Questions" sheet for each of your staff members for reference; however, they should know the answers without the sheet.

Create a clear symbol that will help others identify your group. Organizationally, it will help the membership drive run smoothly if all staff members have a shirt or other clear symbol that clearly indicates they are part of the organization.