Quality Programs equal membership retention and go far towards attracting new members. Quality Programs do not just happen, they take some effort! The key is to keep it simple and decide what you want to do and then do it. Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all. It is vitally important to Cooperate, Coordinate, and Communicate. The lack of a well-planned program, shared in advance with your members, is communicating that leadership is not serious about building a viable Post with quality programs.
Any good plan must answer five questions:
1. Where are we now?
2. Where do we want to go from here?
3. What things will we do to get there?
4. When will these things occur?
5. What will each person do each month?
Ideal Time to Plan
Our CBL states that each Post elects their new officers between 1 May and 30 June and that they must assume office no later than 15 July. I would like to propose that this is the ideal time for your Post to put the wheels in motion to “plan” your annual Post Calendar. The outgoing Commander or Second Vice could appoint a chairperson to begin the process that will culminate with the important action step of ratifying the plan at the first official meeting of the next cycle, that meeting being chaired by the new Commander.
Why Plan a Yearlong Calendar?
There is any number of reasons – among them, to share commitments and responsibilities; ensure a varied program that meets your members’ needs and interests; allow for ample prep time; avoid calendar conflicts by permitting interested members to keep AMVETS dates open; provide for better communications; avoid confusion; encourage members to look forward to meetings; give members a chance to pick their program in advance and volunteer to assist; provide direction to your post; and establish the budget and know what you need from your treasury and how much you will need to raise.
Key Elements of the Process
Steps in building an annual programs calendar may vary, so flexibility is fine as long as you follow some basic principles. 1) Begin the process early. 2) Get all leaders and active members involved. 3) Know the needs of your local veteran community. 4) Review past programs and determine what worked and had the support of your membership. 5) Make the plan comprehensive; objectives, programs, chairpersons and dates. 6) Plot action steps on a separate schedule for each program and identify via that program’s chairperson, who will be responsible for each step. 7) Print the calendar and mail to all members and post it on your web site if available. Your goal is to have a 12-month, comprehensive calendar prepared by the end of July, but no later than 15 August. It should include meeting dates, key department and national dates, fund raisers, programs and dinners, military & veteran holidays and monthly community projects.