Getting Started

Why Do People Join?

  • Pursue Personal and Professional Development
  • Make Industry Contacts and Friends
  • Stay Abreast of Industry Issues & Developments
  • Promote the Surety Industry
  • Develop and Practice Leadership Skills
  • Develop and Practice Management Skills
  • Explore Employment Options

How to Start an LSA

Sam Derby, International Fidelity Insurance Co., Little Rock, AR, offers some sage advice when starting a local surety association (LSA).

  • Be Persistent – Don’t get discouraged or give up on the idea if your first efforts to gain interest don’t seem to generate the type of response you had hoped for. Get those who are interested involved and you gradually will see your numbers increasing.
  • Be Specific – When recruiting membership it is important to provide concrete reasons for the necessity of the LSA. Let prospective members know how the LSA can help meet their needs.
  • Get Help – Contact the Surety Information Office and existing LSAs in other states for assistance. SIO can provide promotional materials and ideas. Other LSAs can offer insights into how to attain goals and information on how to structure the LSA, e.g. bylaws, officers, elections, etc.
  • Just Do It – The bottom line is if you see the need for an LSA, just go out there and make it happen. Once your mind is made up, let the momentum carry it through.

Ideas for Determining Member Dues

  • Charge meeting fees according to the costs of each meeting.
  • Offer a “Pay-Ahead” Plan. After the meetings are laid out for a year and the meeting costs are calculated, members have the option to pay for all of the planned meetings in advance, an incentive could include one free meeting or a discount.
  • Charge dues that include the meeting costs for the year.
  • Charge base annual dues per company or agency plus a registration fee for each individual attending a luncheon meeting.
  • Consider administrative costs (copying, postage, temporary help, etc.) or costs associated with lobbying, if applicable.

– Adapted from CFMA Chapter Operations Handbook, “Chapter Finances, Determining Chapter Dues.”

Identifying & Getting Members

Ideas for recruiting members:

  • Keep a “prospective member” list at all times and make contact with the individuals on a regular basis.
  • One of the best sources of prospective members are existing members.
  • Keep meeting attendance records, including members and guests. Contact members who do not attend meetings and follow-up with guests to encourage joining.
  • Acknowledge new members and guests at every meeting.
  • Make “Membership” your #1 priority in recruiting and retention.
  • Communicate exactly what you expect from volunteers and what they can expect in return—assign one task to spark interest, then as their interest grows they can move up in roles, possibly into leadership (i.e. obtain speaker, find meeting place, update Web site, etc.).
  • Encourage your Membership Committee and/or Board of Directors to call members for meetings and special events to encourage inactive or lapsed members to activate.
  • Encourage members to bring a guest to meetings and introduce guests at meeting. Have “Guest Registration Forms” at all regular meetings to facilitate introductions and, better yet, “a ready made prospect target list.”
  • Have application forms (with how to join and self-addressed return envelope attached) at all functions and encourage members to distribute to member prospects.
  • Consider joint seminars with other professional associations. Contact SIO for a list of associations in your state. Also see SIO’s List of Speaker Topics in this document.

– Adapted from CFMA Chapter Operations Handbook, “Membership Development, Recruit Members.”

Retaining & Motivating Members

Schedule regular meetings and hold additional meetings, seminars, or workshops as desired.

Try to have a standard meeting place and time for the attendees’ convenience. Also consider the following:

Step 1:

Send a survey to all members and anyone who attended the first meeting asking days and times (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner) that work best for them; include a list of topic ideas and ask them to add any additional interests.

Continue to send surveys on a quarterly basis to ensure you are meeting all the needs of your members!

Since July, August, and December often involve family holidays and vacations, they can be used for social events or planning purposes. When scheduling meetings, consider the meeting times of other civic and professional groups in your community with which your membership might overlap.

Step 2:

Rank topics in order of interest and ensure they relate to your audience!

Always be creative in planning the meeting to capture and maintain members’ attendance.

Step 3:

Once the schedule/agenda is completed, a meeting notice by e-mail or postcard, which includes speaker information, should be sent at least a month or two in advance to remind members. If using bulk-rate postage, remember to allow for the additional delivery time required – up to 10 days. A brief announcement should also be published in the newsletter and/or the LSA Web site, listing the date, time, topic, speaker, and place whether the meeting will be held.

Encourage members to RSVP for local meetings to avoid inaccuracy in planning of meals and seating arrangements.

Step 4:

Without overwhelming volunteers, create a small task force to make phone calls to members to remind them of the meeting and to follow up with non-respondents to find out why they are not attending.

Meetings should be structured to provide opportunities for professional education and/or development, information on new products and services, and interaction among members. If members are informed that the meeting will be an hour, keep it that way. Build trust and don’t waste their time.

First-time attendees should be welcomed by a specified Board Member and introduced to others to help them feel welcome and accepted. Always attempt to attract other persons within the audience to join your committee or Board of Directors.

Occasionally survey members to obtain feedback regarding: speakers, topics, meeting format, meeting content, and meeting scheduling. This can be done by either placing a small generic comment card on the tables at meetings, mailing the cards directly to members, or sending a quick e-mail. This will help generate ideas for future meetings and ensure that members feel good about attending the meetings. LSAs should also consider scheduling meetings, locations, speakers, and topics a year out to ensure good quality meetings.

– Adapted from CFMA Chapter Operations Handbook, “Motivate & Maintain Your Chapter, Schedule Regular Meetings.”

Basic Preparation for a General Meeting

  1. Determine Format, Date, and Location (Providing top quality venues and speakers will entice members to return)
  2. Decide on Speaker and Topic
  3. Set Price to be Charged for Meeting
  4. Send Meeting Invitations
  5. Promote General Meeting
  6. Develop Meeting Agenda
    1. Welcoming Comments
    2. Dinner or Lunch
    3. Introductions (Introduce organizing committee members and officers by having each one stand and give his or her name, firm, and position)
    4. Announcements
    5. Speaker
      1. Representative from national office such as SIO, SFAA, or NASBP
      2. Briefing on purpose, history, benefits, and objectives
    6. Closing Comments/Announcements
      1. Take five minutes to complete surveys on Topic Survey Form & Meeting Survey Form
      2. Announce next meeting date, place, speaker, and subject

– Adapted from CFMA Chapter Operations Handbook, “New Chapter Information, Basic Preparation for a General Meeting.”

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