Cub Scout October Recruiting Checklist

Cub Scout October Recruiting Checklist

It’s now October. Can you believe it? The leaves are starting to fall, and there’s a chill in the air (in some places.) The first round of Cub Scout recruiting is over. Perhaps your pack hit that jackpot. Maybe you struggled. In either case, here are some October recruiting tips to help you reach as many families as possible this fall, and grow your pack.


Get Joining Night 2 on the Calendar

It’s perfectly acceptable and even encouraged for you to have another joining night, or at least, to do a round of flyers for your October pack meeting. I may be wrong, but it’s a pretty safe bet that your council would love nothing more than to print another round of joining night flyers for you. Council’s generally have a reserve of recruiting supplies set aside for second round recruiting.


Hit the Soccer Fields

The one nice thing about kids in soccer is that you know their parents are willing to sign them up for activities and are willing to take them to those activities on a regular basis. The other nice thing is soccer tends to be seasonal, and in many places, is winding down right about now. So have a plan to work the sidelines at the last few youth soccer games of the season. I vividly remember the Cubmaster of Pack 171 in Presque Isle, Maine using this strategy masterfully to grow the numbers in her pack each fall.

Aside that has nothing to do with recruiting. I think soccer is much more entertaining the younger the players are. In college, I covered both soccer teams, and it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as watching a herd of five-year-olds running after the ball, and falling over randomly. Just my opinion.



As opposed to the rest of the year, when you’re going to have to go out and hit the bricks to get to your audience, at Halloween, your target audience will literally knock on your door. Why not give the families in your pack some business cards with your pack’s information on it to hand to trick-or-treaters this Halloween?

Of course, you want to make sure that the people giving out the cards 1. look and act friendly, and 2. have really, really good candy to go along with the cards.

It’s always good to associate your message with someone else’s happy experience, and for kids, getting candy is a pretty happy experience.

Do That Boy Talk

Doing an in-school recruiting talk will on average, triple the number of families you’ll recruit. If you didn’t get a Boy Talk done before your first recruiting night, now would be a good time. Schools are into the flow of the year,

The biggest reason that Boy Talks don’t get scheduled is that people don’t ask. And I’ve found I’ve always had much more success asking in person. Put the phone down, get in the car, drop by the school between 3 and 4 pm, and ask the principal if there would be a good time for you to come in at lunch

For a lot more on Boy Talks, click here.


Go to Church

If you’ve already gone to every church in your service area, then I suppose you can skip this one. But most packs never get around to actually doing this. They usually get their chartering organization but miss the other houses of worship in their area.

Take the time to make a list of all the religious organizations in your area, and assign someone from your pack to reach out to them. Find all the churches, synagogues, parishes, mosques, etc. in your area, and make contact with them. Go to their website, send them an email, call them on the phone, visit their office hours, or even visit one of their weekly services – but make contact!

When I was starting a pack in tiny Monticello, Maine, the only way to make contact with the church in town was to go to church on Sunday.

What you want is for them to put an announcement about your pack in their weekly bulletin. Maybe something on their Facebook page, and perhaps a poster in their children’s area. Getting a pastor or rabbi to talk about scouting from the pulpit is a home run every time.


Day Cares and After-School Programs

These are big ones to hit, especially if you’ve got school access issues. They tend to be pretty welcoming, and will just about always let you do flyers. Better yet, see if they’ll let you come in and talk to the kids. You could even offer to come in and do some program for the kids. Maybe some nature program, maybe some knots, or maybe a craft. If you can provide some value for them, your odds will improve.



Move those Yard Signs

If your signs have been in the same place for a month, it’s likely that everyone who was going to see them there has seen them. So go get them, and put them in other high-traffic areas in your town.


You Have to Ask

Remember that the biggest reason that people don’t join Cub Scouts is that nobody asked them to. And getting a flyer is not an ask. A flyer is a reminder, not an invitation. October is a great time to invite families to join your pack.

Good luck!



Photo by makelessnoise

Posted by Mike Cooney in Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting
Cub Scout Joining Night Checklist

Cub Scout Joining Night Checklist

So, it’s September. Packs all over the country will be doing Joining Nights in the next month. Over the years, I’ve run and helped run a lot of Cub Scout joining nights. So here’s a quick Cub Scout joining night checklist of some things you’re going to want to have in place at your recruiting event. This is no time for improv. Know what you’re going to say, and rehearse it if you have to. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Some supplies you’ll want to have on hand.

Proper Signage

When families come to your event, will it be obvious where you are in the building? So having directional signs on the road and on the property can be very handy to you. Don’t assume that people will know where you are. You want people to be comfortable when they come to your event, and nothing makes people less comfortable than having to hunt for your meeting.

Have Something for the kids to do

If at all possible, having a supervised second room for the kids. This makes getting information to the parents go much, much smoother than if they’re trying to wrangle their child at the same time. It’s also much more fun for the boys, who I can guarantee you were thinking that their first night of Cub Scouts was going to be something other than sitting at a table in a basement watching mom or dad fill out paperwork and hear a talk about insurance.

You want to have some sort of fun activity for these boys to do. It could be a game, or a craft, or a puzzle – but it needs to be fun.

I also like to do a fun exercise that starts the boys on the advancement trail. You get the new scouts together and teach them the Cub Scout sign. Tell the boys that the two fingers represent the ears of Akela, the leader. I then let them know that in the wild, the lead wolf raises his ears to let the other wolves know when there’s danger, or food, or fun to be had. It’s when we need their attention, so if you see a leader put up their sign, you need to be quiet and pay attention.

Then you can practice. Let them get really loud, and put up the sign. Once they’ve got this mastered, you can repeat the exercise once they’re back in the other room with their parents. Tell their parents to try using the Scout sign at home.

A presentation on the Scouting Program in general

Prepare a 5-10 minute overview of the Cub Scout program. Talk about the goals of the program and the aims and methods of Cub Scouting. Be able to give a brief overview of the advancement program. Be able to explain the BSA’s youth protection policies. It’s also a good idea to be able to explain the BSA’s sickness and accident, and liability insurance policies.

Follow this up with a brief overview of the Scouting program in general, describe how the boys will cross over into a Boy Scout troop after completing their Arrow of Light. Let them know that the program will evolve with their boy.

A presentation on your pack’s specific program

Every pack is a little bit different. Who are the people in your pack they should know?  Know when the dens meet. What your pack meeting schedule is. What are some of the cool things your pack does every year? Where do you go? How often do the dens meet? Talk about the Pinewood Derby. This is your chance to let them know what your pack is all about.

A photo display or display video of your pack’s activities would be really useful here.

At the very least, you need to let them know when the next meeting is.

Pack Welcome Packets

You should have a basic packet of information about your pack’s activities, rules, fees, fundraisers, and expectations. Here’s an example from Pack 241 in Boynton Beach, Florida. Your packet should include or come with a calendar of your pack’s activities for the year. It should also include contact information for multiple people in the pack, and relevant websites and Facebook pages


Family Expectations

Make sure you set clear and realistic expectations for every family. Using a 100-point form is a handy way of doing this. Make it clear that every family is expected to help out in some way. But don’t set this as an onerous chore but as an opportunity. Nobody is good at everything, but everybody is good at something, and if everyone pitches in a little, we’ll have a much better program for the boys.

I like to have fun with this, and let them know that they’ll have just as much fun in Scouting as their children will. This really isn’t the time to recruit new leaders, but rather the time to be identifying leaders you’ll want to recruit later.

Popcorn or other Fundraising Paperwork

One of the big questions that will come up during the meeting is: How much does Scouting cost?

Apart from letting them know the costs, and that we don’t want any child to miss out on the Scouting program because of their family’s financial situation, this is a great time to let them know about popcorn (or whatever fundraiser your pack does.) Let them know that this is an opportunity to help them defray the costs of Scouting. Have a handout about any pack or council incentives that may apply.

Apart from providing needed funds for your pack, selling popcorn is a great way to teach the boys salesmanship.

Summer Camp Info

Every scout should have some sort of camping experience every summer, be it overnight resident camp, or Cub Scout Day Camp. These programs are the Super Bowl of Scouting, and every pack should have this as part of their yearly program.

Youth Applications Checklist

Don’t give them the applications to go home with. Set a time in your meeting when applications are going to be filled out. Give them pens and applications, and explain how to fill out the applications. With few exceptions, if they’ve taken the time to come to your joining night, they’ve decided to register. But you need to make sure to actually ask them to fill out the applications.

In order to be processed, each youth application needs:

  • The scout’s full legal name
  • Their birthdate
  • Address and phone number
  • Grade in school
  • Their parent or guardian’s name
  • Their birthdate
  • Parent or guardian’s signature
  • Cubmaster’s signature
  • appropriate fees

Email addresses are optional, but getting them now makes your life much easier later. Also, make sure that everything on the application is legible. Your council’s registrar is going to be processing hundreds of applications this year, and one of the biggest reasons for errors is unreadable handwriting. Make sure you keep the unit copies.


After the Meeting

Shoot a quick email to your District Executive, Charter Rep, and Committee Chair letting them know how the event went. How many kids did you get? You’ll also want to make arrangements to get the completed applications to the council office as quickly as possible. You’ll also want to make sure you get one check along with the applications, so make sure your Pack treasurer is on hand that evening.

It’s also nice to send thank you emails or notes to anyone who helped you with the event, and welcome emails to all the families who signed up reminding them of the next meeting.

Then take a few minutes to celebrate. Your efforts will make a big impact in these kids lives. For a complete discussion of fall recruiting strategies, you can listen to my podcast episode with Matt Ghirarda. Thank you for what you’re doing!



Photo by Melissa Hillier


Joining Night Checklist by Mike Cooney


Posted by Mike Cooney in Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Recruiting, Scouting, Volunteering
5 Simple Things You Can Do To Grow Scouting This Fall

5 Simple Things You Can Do To Grow Scouting This Fall

Percentage-wise, most people in Scouting aren’t Cubmasters. They aren’t in charge of fall recruiting campaigns this fall, but they can make all the difference when it comes to the success or failure of fall recruiting campaigns. Recruiting Cub Scouts is an exhausting endeavor, so they can use all the help they can get. If we’re going to grow Scouting, we need all hands on deck.

Are you a Scout parent who’s not volunteering with the pack, but wants to help make a better program for your son? Even if you haven’t been involved in Scouting for years, you can be a helper. You can make a difference. Even if your kids are long since grown and out of the house, you can make a difference. You can make sure that kids will get a program that will change their lives for the better.

So, if you’re a camp person, and you want your camp to be filled and vibrant over the years to come, you can’t ignore the recruiting of new scouts. You can’t just assume that someone else is going to do it. If you’re a Boy Scout leader, and you want kids in your troop in five years, then your help is needed to grow Scouting right now.

There are a lot of really simple things that you can volunteer to do in just a little bit of your spare time in the coming weeks that can make a huge difference in getting more families involved in Scouting. Here are just a few things you can do to help get the word out.

Like and Share Scouting Content on Facebook

Okay, if you’ve got an internet connection, a few Facebook account, and a pulse, you can help grow Scouting. If you’re not familiar with the way Facebook decides what shows up on people’s newsfeeds, the number of likes and shares has a great deal to do with it. So, if you’d rather see more scouting stuff in your newsfeed, and less stuff about the eclipse,

Are there community Facebook groups that you’re a member of? Share an article about Scouting in there. Share more than one. I wrote my 10 reasons you should sign your kid up for Cub Scouts. Feel free to share mine or write your own. Sharing content in popular groups is the best way to make sure

Check the local pack Facebook pages for Joining Night Events in your area. Share them on your Facebook Page, or better yet, invite your friends who have Cub Scout-aged kids or grandkids.


Talk about Scouting with your Friends

Have conversations with your friends about Scouting. If they’ve got kids or grandkids, let them know why they should sign them up. Find out when your local pack is having their joining night, and shoot off an email about it.


Volunteer to Do a Boy Talk

Some schools don’t allow Boy Talks, but many others do and don’t get covered because of a lack of volunteers to take the hour or so off work to go and actually do so. I’ve done lots of these, and they’re really a lot of fun to do. If your local public school won’t allow them, then check with your local private and parochial schools. Can you take a couple of hours out of your September to help grow Scouting?

Don’t just limit yourself to schools. Think about after-school programs, Sunday schools, day cares, rec leagues, PALs. Where can you go to talk scouting?


Put Up Yard Signs to grow Scouting

Does your yard have a “Join Scouting Sign” in it? Does your business? What about your church? Contact your local council or your local Cub Scout pack and ask them for one. Pay particular attention to the major routes in town, particularly to schools and major employers.

yard signs

The yard sign across from the school is always a big win.

One of the Cubmasters in a district I used to cover lived at the intersection of the road to the local elementary school. Right smack dab at the stop light. So every year, we made sure there was a Join Scouting sign on his lawn so that everyone who drove to the school would see it. When his family crossed over to the troop, I asked if he’d mind if we put a yard sign on his lawn whenever we were going to do a Joining Night. He, of course, approved.

We also had a church that chartered one of the local troops that agreed to let us put up a yard sign directly across from the driveway of the elementary school.

I’d also be thinking about the roads along the way to the busiest beaches and playgrounds in town. Where’s the traffic?

The more people see the message, the more likely your going to be to grow Scouting in your community.

Deliver Flyers, and Put up Posters

Do you have a business? Can you put a flyer or poster up in your window? What about the businesses around you? What about the lunch room at your office?

Even in the smallest of towns, there are places where you can hang flyers. Every ice cream shop should have a flyer on the bulletin board. Can you take a handful of flyers and put them up in storefronts around town?

Think of the places that parents and kids go in town, and make sure that there’s a flyer taped or pinned up there.



Photo by b0jangles

Posted by Mike Cooney in Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting
August Recruiting Checklist: 5 Things to Do Right Now

August Recruiting Checklist: 5 Things to Do Right Now

Your Recruiting Checklist

This Tuesday is August 1st. Great recruiting campaigns are made and broken with what you do in early August. What you do right now will determine whether you’ve got a full room come at your joining night in September, or whether you’re going to be lonely, wondering what went wrong. To help you out, here’s a quick recruiting checklist of things you need to get done in early August to make you successful.


Get your Recruiting Date Set

This is the big one. Everything else flows from getting this done. Like yesterday. Getting the date, time and location of your recruiting event set now lets you print your marketing materials, and set up your Facebook event. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve communicated this information to your council, as they will get calls from families in your area looking to join.

So now is the time to finalize your building reservations. Make sure you’ve reviewed all the relevant local calendars (School calendar, PTO, School Athletics, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) Also, make sure to check it against your council and district calendars.



Secure School Approvals

Now is the time to stop by all the schools you recruit from and have the important conversations. How many flyers are you going to need? How do they want flyers bundled? Who needs to approve them?

Will they let you do a school recruiting talk, and can you schedule it now?

Do you have your plan set for school open houses? Who’s going to be staffing them and what are they going to be handing out?


Compose your Marketing Plan

Have you designed your flyer yet? What about your posters? Have they been printed? What about business cards? Now is the time to get those things squared away.

Do you know where in town you’re going to hang those flyers and posters?

What about yard signs? Do you know where you’re going to put those?

Have you got marketing tables set up, and the places to do them? Are there any town fairs, carnivals, or any other big public gatherings where could get you a lot of exposure?

Have you got a list of all the newspapers, radio and TV stations that you’re going to send press releases to? Have you started working on your press releases?


And your Social Media Plan

It’s 2017. You need a social media plan. If you’re going to do a paid Facebook ad campaign, you’ll want to start planning it now.

If you’re going to do an organic Facebook campaign, have you made a checklist of all the big Facebook groups in your town? Have you set up your Facebook event, and asked ALL the families in your pack to invite any potential scouting families they know?

It’s also time for councils to get their free Google AdWords campaigns set up.


Update Your Be A Scout Pin

Make sure your pin is updated. You can find instructions here on just how to do that.


Photo by AJC1

Posted by Mike Cooney in Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting, Social Media
Doing a School Recruiting Talk

Doing a School Recruiting Talk

Over the years I’ve done hundreds of school recruiting talks or “Boy Talks.”

They’re a great tool for bulking up your recruiting numbers. On average, it’s estimated that a good school recruiting talk can triple the number of families who will actually show up to your joining night.

Let me start with a little story about one of the first Boy Talks I ever did, or rather the result. That year I did around 20 Boy Talks in schools around Aroostook County, Maine. We had a great recruiting season and increased our membership as a district. But that seemed a little abstract to me.

It stopped feeling abstract when I was walking around Camp Roosevelt for one of the Cub resident camps the next summer. A boy who looked to be about eight stopped me on the trail and said, “You’re the man from the school.”

Those few words made my whole summer.

It probably took me about 25 minutes round trip to drive from my house in Presque Isle to his school in Mapleton. Probably another two hours to talk to all the kids in the lunch waves that day. But that brief bit of time got him to join Scouting, got him to camp, and changed his life for the better.

The biggest reason that kids don’t join the program is that nobody asked them. Getting a flyer is not an ask. A personal invite from you is an ask.

Getting the Boy Talk

I think the first question I think of when someone talks about something like this is, that’s great, but how do I get in the door?

You don’t want to overcomplicate this. In my experience, the best way is to just ask them. Go to the school, talk to the secretary, ask to speak to the principal, and tell them what you want to do. You want 3-5 minutes during each lunch period to talk to the kids about Scouting.

Ideally, the person doing the ask is a person with kids in the school, who knows the secretary, knows the principle, and is involved with the school community.

I’ve found that late July / early August are the best times to stop by schools to ask about doing a talk. There’s not a lot going on at the school, so they’re usually in a pretty good mood, and much more likely to entertain your request. If you go the first week of school in September, it’s going to be hectic, and you’re much less likely to get a “yes.”

You want to be prepared for possible objections. You appreciate that they don’t want to take away from the kids instructional time. Let them know that you’re on the same page here. You should also let them know that you’re going to stick to your 3-5 minutes in the lunchroom.

Each school is different and getting to know the people is usually the key to success.


Don’t Forget Private Schools

In over a decade of doing these, I have never, ever, ever been turned down when asking a Catholic School to do a school recruiting talk. My success rate at all private schools is nearly perfect. These schools tend to be extremely supportive, and receptive to your message.

Also, don’t overlook Day Cares and other afterschool programs. If you’ve got a tough time getting school access to do a presentation, these can be the next best thing. Also, don’t overlook the possibility of making presentations at Sunday Schools or other religious organizations.

Who Can Do a School Recruiting Talk?

So in just about every district, there’s a math problem. Packs tend to think that only their District Executive can do Boy Talks. But most districts have a lot of elementary schools and only one DE. Combine this with a limited number of days before your joining night, and you can see how a lot of schools won’t get covered.

So who else can do Boy Talks? The short answer is anyone. Of course, you want someone who’s pretty good at public speaking. Someone friendly and warm, who’s going to get the message across soundly.

You want someone who’s not going to fall apart at the snarky comments of fifth graders.

So what types of people should you consider?

  • Cubmasters and Den Leaders
  • Committee Members
  • Pack Parents
  • Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters from your local troop
  • Commissioners
  • Nearby District Committee Members
  • Eagle Scout Alumni

Types of Presentations

Lunch Talks

This the preferred method of school recruiting talk right now. You show up at the school before the first lunch wave. Someone from the school takes you to the cafeteria. When the kids are done eating, you give a 3-5 minute talk on what Scouting is.

These are probably the most exhausting type for you to do, as in some bigger schools you might actually be there for 4+ hours.


These are most common in private schools, particularly Catholic schools. Usually, they send someone with you to escort you from room to room. The teacher stops class for a few minutes, and you talk about Scouting.

School Assemblies

These used to be the most common. The kids are called from class to the auditorium, or cafeteria, or cafetorium. You then get 5-10 minutes to tell them about Scouting.

You can also get some schools to let you do brief assemblies at the end of the day, right before the kids get on the bus.


Doing Your School Recruiting Talk

There are lots of ways to actually do school recruiting presentations. No matter what you do, you want to keep it short, to the point. And you absolutely positively have to end it with a memorable call-to-action. “Come to the School Cafeteria at 6:00 pm tonight, bring a parent or guardian and be ready to have fun.”

My own school recruiting talk was pretty simple.

“Who here likes fun?”

Wait for the kids to raise their hands.

“Good, because Scouts have fun. They do fun things. How many here think it would be fun to go camping? (wait for hands) And put up a tent with mom or dad? (wait) How many think it would be fun to go swimming? (wait)”

And I’d list off a bunch of different activities that Cub Scouts do. If you’ve got girls in the room, make sure to talk a little bit about Girl Scouts. Better yet, have a Girl Scout representative with you.

Also, I usually steer clear of talking about shooting sports. You have plenty of other exciting activities you can talk about, that aren’t as likely to cause you trouble with a school administrator.

Make sure you have something to give them. A sticker with a phone number and a website. Maybe a pencil? Perhaps the flyer. I used to have pretty good success giving the kids their flyers and telling them to fold them up and put them in their socks to show to mom when they got home.

When you’re done giving your talk, you can “work the room”, going from table to table answering questions.

Here are a couple of other examples of a school recruiting talk.

You can find a lot more examples of Boy Talks on YouTube.

Take from them what works for you. Make it your own. And have fun with it.
Other Recruiting Articles

7 Things to Do Right Now To Get Ready For Fall Recruiting

9 Summertime Recruiting Opportunities

23 Great Places to Hang Flyers


Looking for great deals on camping supplies, check out our guide to Amazon Prime Day.

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Posted by Mike Cooney in Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting
7 Things to Do Right Now To Get Ready For Fall Recruiting

7 Things to Do Right Now To Get Ready For Fall Recruiting

So, right now most packs are thinking about Day Camp, or Resident Camp, or the Fourth of July Parade. They may be doing one of the things listed in our Summer Recruiting Guide. But most of them are thinking that fall recruiting is a long ways away. But the days until school’s get back in session will tick off quickly, and there are a lot of things that Packs can do right now to get ready for fall recruiting.

Now I probably love camp as much as anyone, but we need to recruit kids before they can go camping, and you can go with them.  The key to fall recruiting is preparation – so here are some big things you can do right now to make sure you’re successful.

 Get Fall Recruiting Dates and Locations Set ASAP

Everything sort of flows from this one. This lets you create your Facebook event. This lets you order your flyers and posters. It gives you a date to work back from.

Now, ideally, you’re holding your recruiting date at each school you recruit from. Many schools are difficult to nail down for dates until August, but the sooner you start having that conversation, the better.

Notice that I put down recruiting dates, plural. You want to schedule multiple joining nights. You don’t want your entire recruiting campaign to be one night. You’ll need follow-up events for the people who couldn’t get there to the first event. Life happens. People get sick. Calendar conflicts occur.

Then, once you’ve got your date set, let your district know about it, so they can properly support your efforts.

Check Community Calendars

There are so many reasons to do this. First, you want to make sure your recruiting night isn’t scheduled for your school’s open house night, or the big soccer nights in town. You want to make sure that as many people as possible can come to your joining night. So check the school department’s calendar, check the Chamber of Commerce’s calendar.

Not only can you pick the best date for your event, but you can also find other events that you can be present at to promote your event.

Visit Your Schools

Summertime is a good time to stop by the school(s) your pack covers and have a discussion about their flyer policy. Who needs to approve the flyer? Can they also include your flyer in their digital backpack?

How do they want the flyers packaged? Groups of 10? 15? Paper clipped? Colored-paper separated? How many flyers will you need? If you want the flyers to actually go home with the kids, then you need to know this. Will they allow you to do a classroom, or lunchroom presentation? (Informally, a “Boy Talk.)

When will the school open house be in the fall? Can you reserve a table at that event?

Of course, there are some schools who don’t allow you any access, and it’s better to know that now.


Do A Social Media InventorySee Facebook Posts

What are the Facebook Groups in your town where it would be appropriate to share your fall recruiting info? Does your town have a News and Info Group or a Community Events Group? Is there a School PTO Group? Just put your town’s name in the search bar on Facebook and see what you find. Then ask the other people in your unit to do the same. Make sure you’ve got members of your pack or troop in these groups before recruiting season.

Are there pages in your community that would and should share your recruiting info? Radio stations? TV stations? Schools? Businesses?

You want to make sure that when it’s time to do your social media blitz in advance of your recruiting night that you’re not doing so haphazardly. While you’re at it, make sure that you’ve got everyone on Facebook in your group liking your Facebook page, send out an email invitation to everyone on your unit mailing list.

The whole point of this exercise is to get as many eyes on your Recruiting posts as possible. Just posting something on Facebook and hoping for the best isn’t going to make that happen. You need a plan, and now is that time to write that plan.


Do A Bulletin Board Inventory

Where are the places you can hang flyers in town? Take a walk or a drive around your community and look for bulletin boards. Look for businesses that hang community flyers in the windows. Make notes of where these are, so that when it’s time to actually recruit put flyers up, you won’t be nearly so rushed. This will keep you far more organized, and make your life much easier. To get you started, here’s my list of 23 places to hang flyers.


Contact Your Local Churches / Religious Organizations for Bulletin Info

How many churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, etc. are there in your town? Would they be willing to share your joining night info with their members?

In my experience, most would. Can you get them either a small flyer to insert into their bulletins or at least a couple of sentences they can print in those bulletins over the summer?

But they can be tricky to get a hold of, so start now. Not all of them will have someone there during business hours. It’s also a lot easier if you figure out who in your unit belongs to each religious organization. So start scouring websites now for contact phone #s and emails, and office hours.

Contact Your Local Service Clubs

Think about your Rotary Club, Elks Club, Moose Lodge, Lions Clubs, Masons, Knights of Columbus, American Legion, etc.

These are groups with stated mission to make their communities better places to be. So they are predisposed to support you. The only trouble is, that usually nobody ever asks them to do so, and they can help you in a myriad of ways.

They can put up your fall recruiting flyers in their businesses, or work lunchrooms, and share your joining event on their Facebook pages. They can include you in their summer events. It’s also possible that they parents of Scouting-aged boys in their membership.  Many of these groups will have Scouting alumni who may be willing to volunteer to do some little things to help you out in the future. You could meet school board members, business leaders, community leaders, and people who will have some great ideas for promoting your joining night.

Give them a call, and find if you can come to one of their meetings. Rotary clubs, for example, are always looking for speakers – especially in the summer. And that connection you build now will be extremely beneficial for you going forward.

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Posted by Mike Cooney in Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting, Social Media, Volunteering
Don’t Feel Guilty Asking People to Do Good

Don’t Feel Guilty Asking People to Do Good

Why You Feel Guilty Asking

One of the biggest roadblocks to people recruiting volunteers, or raising money is guilt. People are naturally feel guilty asking for things. We’re trained that asking for thing makes us look weak. It also makes us feel vulnerable.

We hate hearing the word no. Nobody really likes being told no. (But no can be a positive in the long run, better to get a quick no than to get strung out for weeks, months or years.) So we try to avoid being told no by simply not asking. Someone who hasn’t been asked is still a potential yes.

Of course, a person who hasn’t been asked will never say yes.

I realize fully that this block is far more emotional and primal than it is intellectual. So we have to find ways of getting around it – so that you can get on with the important work of matching up the important work you’re doing with the people who can help you do it.

Guilt is a perfectly healthy emotion. If you lacked guilt when you do bad things, or things you might regret, you’d be a sociopath. But you shouldn’t feel guilty asking people to do things you truly believe will benefit the community.

Don’t Ask Strangers

Everybody (with the possible exception of a few sadists) hates cold-calling. This is not to say that you should only be asking your close friends and family, but rather that you should work on making these people who are your potential donors and volunteers into your friends.

So the key is building relationships. There’s a great book that you can get on Amazon for next to nothing called, “Let’s Have Lunch Together.” It lays out how you can build the relationships that will make these asks much more comfortable and successful for you. You can read it in about an hour, and you’ll get so, so much out of it.

People give to people. They volunteer for people. Don’t forget that.

You’re Not Asking For You

So I was sitting a Rotary meeting the other day, and listening to the speaker. She was (and is), a very nice lady who’s trying to get funding for an extremely worthwhile project. After the meeting, we sat for a while, and went over the logistics of doing a capital campaign. We talked about identifying potential donors and about strategies for building the committee to make the asks.

But what seemed to strike the biggest chord with her was when I reminded her that she wasn’t actually asking for money for herself. I could see that a pretty big weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

If you’re a Committee Chair for a Cub Scout Pack, and you need to recruit a new Den Leader, you aren’t asking them to do program for you – but to put on great programs for children. And you’re asking them because you think they’d be good at it. So asking them is a compliment.

If you’re raising money for cancer research, it’s not money FOR YOU, but for research to save lives. As it turns out, people like to be asked to help with things like this. Now, they don’t like to be badgered, but if you run a good fundraising campaign, people will look forward to it. They want to hear the story of the good your organization is doing. I look forward to the Jimmy Fund Telethon every year. It feels good knowing that my donations help kids beat cancer and have productive lives.

Remember, you’re not asking for money so that you can get yourself a yacht. Don’t feel guilty asking for something that will make someone else’s life better. You’re asking for help for others who most likely wouldn’t be able to ask for themselves.

You’re Not Being Fair… To Them

With most volunteers I’ve ever met with, if I told them they couldn’t volunteer anymore, they’d be extremely upset with me. They get a lot out of volunteering. It makes them feel good. They enjoy it.

Sure, it many times causes them stress, and costs them both time and money. But they enjoy it.

Remember that you’re dealing with competent, rational adults who are capable of making their own decisions. You aren’t coercing them or threatening to volunteer. You’re presenting them an opportunity to do good in their community. They have the complete free will to accept or reject your proposal.

If they say no, this doesn’t make them bad people. As an old mentor of mine once said, “bless and release.” Move on to the next person on your list. It may frustrate you, but it doesn’t make them bad people. It just means that they may want to help their community in other ways.

Remember It’s a Win-Win

There’s a reason that people say yes to anything. They both think that they’re going to benefit from the exchange. We know from basic economics that if I buy a hat, that I value the hat more than I value the money I’m paying for the hat. The guy selling the hat values the money more than the hat. When I buy the hat from him, we both win.

The same is true in volunteering and fundraising.

If someone volunteers to help me, they volunteer the good that they’re doing with that time more than any other possible use of that time, or else they wouldn’t be doing it. This is their demonstrated preference. The donor who gives you money values the work that you’re doing more than any other possible use of that money, or they wouldn’t have given it to you.

Both sides win.

Now, if they say “no,” then we know that they value their time or money more in some other area than in your work. That’s fine. People have free will, and the right to do with their time and money what they please. So as long as people have the option to say no, then you have nothing to be feel guilty about.

Now, don’t feel guilty asking people to do good anymore.

And thank you for the good that you’re doing.

Posted by Mike Cooney in Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting, Social Media, Volunteering
How a Game of Catch Helped Build a Little League

How a Game of Catch Helped Build a Little League

This evening I’m running practice for my son’s Little League T-Ball team. The regular head coach has to be somewhere else, so I’m subbing. It got me thinking of the first time I volunteered to coach a Little League team, back in 1998. I think there’s a pretty good lesson to be learned from it, although not really from anything I did, but rather, in the way I was recruited.  definitely wouldn’t recommend you find volunteers this way – but there are some important lessons to be learned from this story.

A Game of Catch

I was 20. A sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. It was a nice spring afternoon. My buddy Lazlo (not his real name, but really what we called him) and I were playing catch on the street behind our fraternity house on Mission Hill. Normally, I wouldn’t suggest playing catch on the street, but this one only had about five cars an hour, and most of those. Thanks to the miracle of Google Maps, here’s the exact spot.

In the 1990s, people actually bought cars that looked like this. (original photo link )

After a while, a Geo Tracker came by. Trackers weren’t a good looking car in the 1990s (of course, I had no car at all, so there’s that.) A man in his early 40s rolled down the window rolled down the window, and introduced himself as Mitch from the Mission Hill Little League.

He said he’d brought his kids to the Haunted House that the fraternity ran every year (highlighted by my buddy Jeremy wielding a chain saw with the blade removed), had heard we were a bunch of good guys, and said that he needed help with coaches for the league.

Lazlo couldn’t do it, as he was a physical therapy major, and didn’t have the time. I was kinda looking for some way to help the community, and said okay. I got a few of my other fraternity brothers to help me out, and the next month we were assistant coaches at a practice for the Mission Hill Reds.

A Little League Head Coach

By 1999, the head coach had moved up to coach at a higher level, and I found myself a 20-year-old head coach of a Little League team in a poor neighborhood of Boston. And I loved every minute of it. As a parent now, I can only imagine what the parents thought when they found their kids had been placed on a team coached by a 20-year-old. One of the parents was the uncle of Red Sox prospect Manny Delcarmen, and he agreed to help me out. He was actually the first volunteer I ever recruited.

These were great kids, and we had a lot of fun. We won a lot of games for two simple reasons. We played our infield in the whole game, and we ran hard on everything. I figured that the kids couldn’t throw that well any way, so why put them in position to have to make long throws. With the infield in, they were in a position to succeed.

On the other side, I figured that if other teams could make the throws to get us out, that they should do so. Plus, it made the game really fun for the kids. They learned how to play the right way. Took a while to get the parents in the stands behind me to cease screaming at their kids to stop at third when I was waving them home, but eventually we all got on the same page.

In 2000, we actually went undefeated. I’m not bragging about this, I just had really good kids who played really hard. In my basement, I’ve still got the score-book from that season.

Getting Help

In 2001, they asked me to serve on the board of the league. They only had five people on the board, so I think they were asking anyone who they thought might say yes. Turns out we had the same problem that they’d had when Mitch had stopped to recruit me. So I thought about it, and started asking people I knew to help. I had a little bit of luck asking my fraternity brothers, but the key was asking the guys in the other fraternities on the hill. Once we got other fraternities involved, the league had a steady supply of coaches, and a great relationship was born.

There has always been some tension on Mission Hill between college students looking for a place to stay while attending school, and the local population. I like to think that our coaching has helped to ease that.

An Unlikely Legacy

After graduating school, I lost track of the league for a while. I took a job out of the city, moved off Mission Hill, and stopped coaching. My fraternity eventually disbanded. I moved first to Connecticut, then to Maine, and then back to Connecticut. Got married. Had a family.

You can imagine my surprise when a couple of years ago I Googled some of my old friends in the league to find that the league, which had been struggling was now thriving, and doing so in large part because of the number of college kids who were volunteering to coach the teams. When I looked at the current coaching roster for the league, there are a lot of kids with email addresses.

I certainly didn’t think that any of my players would almost make the majors. One of them did, getting to AAA with the Mets. I remember him as a kid with great hands at 9-years-old. I do wonder how the rest of them are doing.

And all of it happened because Mitch stopped his car and said hello. I don’t recommend the “stop the car and ask people on the street to volunteer for you”, but I do recommend always keeping your eyes peeled for potential volunteers, and not ruling people out because they’re too young. For all the high-tech ways we think of bringing people in, never overlook the power of saying, “hello.”

You could be getting a future leader, and maybe, lots of them.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend. I hope it’s a good one for your and family.


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Photo by Ron Cogswell


Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Recruiting, Volunteering
Run A Successful Recruiting Campaign – Part One

Run A Successful Recruiting Campaign – Part One

welcome sign photo

Photo by Rameshng

Holding a successful recruiting campaign

For membership-based groups, recruiting is the key to surviving and thriving. In order to do so, you need how to run a successful recruiting campaign. This will be the first in series on all aspects of growing your organization.

Setting the Date

First of all, you need a date for your recruiting event. It’s important to do an event where potential new members are actually asked to join. If you’re not asking people to join, then you’re not going to get any new members, are you?

Remember that the biggest reason that people don’t join an organization is “nobody asked.”

So, it’s one thing to put up a flyer, or an advertisement saying that you’re looking for new members – but people need an incentive to act. So just putting out an ad to join your group at some point in the future is nice, but you want to add a sense of urgency. There’s a big difference between, “Come and see us, we meet every Wednesday at 12:15 pm at Rick’s Cafe Americain” and “You’re invited to an open house for potential new members on May 16th at 12:15 pm at Rick’s Cafe Americain.”

The first thing you need in any recruiting campaign is an event – what, where, and when. You want to give them a sense of urgency. You want them to put a definite date on the calendar, and have them get it in their plans – because otherwise, it’s going to fall onto the to-do list with 9,000 other things that they know they’ll have to do… eventually.

How to Set The Date

Setting a date is never as easy as it sounds. This really should be done at a meeting of all the key people in your organization. You want to make sure that everyone who needs to be there at your event can be – so a sit-down meeting or teleconference where people can sit down with their calendars and pick a few dates that will work for them.

Plan out all the things you’re going to do to get people to your event. Start with that time frame, and add a little while. Don’t try to cobble these things together in a few days. You’ll want to give yourself 4-6 weeks of marketing to really build the excitement for your event, and another 2-4 weeks to actually get your marketing plan together.

Other things to know have on hand before you sit down for your meeting:

  • Facility Availability Dates
  • Community Events (fundraisers, elections, graduations, sports schedules, etc.)
  • School Vacation Dates
  • Holidays and Holiday Weekends

Take a look at your community, and look for potential conflicts. This will save you a lot of time and trouble down the road. You don’t want to have all your hard work go to waste when your event conflicts with the Chamber Dinner that all of your target audience is going to be attending. Rather, you want to be at that Chamber Dinner inviting all those potential members to your recruiting event the next week.

You’ll also want to consider what day of the week is best for your targets, and what time of day works best for them. When will they be most likely to actually show up for your meeting?


Once you’ve got a date in mind, you can start backdating. Make a list of all the things you’ll need to do to make your event successful. Everything from booking the room, getting supplies, and carrying out your marketing campaign. This list should be flexible, but it will give you a pretty good idea of what needs to get done, who needs to do it, and by when.

Here’s an example of a Sample Backdater that you can use as you set up your campaign.

Next Time:

We’ll talk about identifying your target audience for our successful recruiting campaign, and figuring out the ways that you’re going to reach them…

Photo by Rameshng

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Volunteering
Volunteer Prospecting – Gold in Them Thar’ Hills

Volunteer Prospecting – Gold in Them Thar’ Hills

Volunteer Prospecting

Recruiting volunteers is a daunting task. Most people would rather do just about anything else rather than ask for something “for nothing.” So the key to success is volunteer prospecting.

Most people would also much rather take the easy way out. They know they need money, so they want to run to the front of them room and say, “Hey, we need help” or just send out an email or a Facebook posts. But the best volunteers are never reached with a post on social media or an email, or by screaming from the front of the room.

It’s always about people. People give to people, and people volunteer to help people. Facebook and emails are great ways to support what you’re doing, but they’re appetizers for the main course.

Identifying Prospects – Building a Nominating Committee

Once you’ve admitted that you need to go out and recruit quality volunteers on a one-by-one basis, finding them can be tricky. For me, and I think for most, the daunting step is always step one. Where do I find these prospects to then go out and ask.

This is where you need a nominating committee – three to five people familiar with your organization and your community who will be willing to give up an hour to sit in a room and have a discussion with you. They usually don’t have to be members of your organization (requirements may vary by organization). But they do have to be the one with the big Rolodex – as those are the kinds of people who will be best at helping you with volunteer prospecting.

The Nominating Committee Meeting 

Once in the room, work backwards. Don’t start with names, and try to pigeon hole them into the jobs you need to fill – but rather, start with the jobs you need filled, and figure out the specific people who would be best to do that job.

Make sure you’ve got a good job description. Not one that’s 25 points long, but the three or four most important ones. What are the things you need this person to do, and do well. Then you start asking your committee the following questions. What are the duties of the job you’re trying to recruit someone to fill? What are the qualifications and skills required? Once you’re all on the same page as to what you’re looking for – the task becomes easier.

Who do you know who’s really good at skill X? Who’s dedicated? What kind of person are you looking for? Who cares and will take training? Who would you like to work with?

Don’t rule out people who are busy. Busy people get things done. That’s why they’re busy.

Then you start writing down names as their thrown out. I’d recommend doing so on a white board or flip chart – so the group can see the names on the list. Don’t say no for anyone, just write down names. Even bad names can lead you to good ones, so keep associating.

Making Your List

Once you think you’ve got enough names (at least five); you can start prioritizing your list.

Who’s your first choice? Second choice? Third choice? Is there anyone on the list who should be removed.

Now you’ve got your list of prioritized prospects, who on the committee will make the ask? Who has the personal connection with the prospect. Write that person’s name next to the candidate.

Repeat this for every position you need filled.

Making the Ask

Once you’ve got your list, it’s time to sit your candidates down and actually make asks.

Make sure you’ve done your homework. What do they do for a living? Family situations are good to know. Where are they from? What are their connections to your organization. If their spouse can be present, this will save you the time of them having to ask their spouse later.

Don’t be afraid of no. You’d much rather get a no upfront than get a volunteer in place who’s not going to do the job. Saying yes to you costs them nothing, and will make you go away, you want to make sure that they’re actually committed.

Sometimes, the best way is to try to talk them out of it. This is why you never want to go alone. One person can give them all the reasons they should do the job, and the other can tell them why it’s going to be difficult. Be upfront about the commitment – how much time will it really take.

Always remember to focus on the why. Why did you get involved? Why should they? Who does your organization help? What benefits will they get from volunteering? What good things will happen if they volunteer, and what bad things will happen if they don’t?

Your ask should always start out flattering. Describe the nominating committee process above.

“Our committee met, and went over the qualifications for the job – and they thought that you would be the best person for the job.”

Present them with the job description. Then let them know why this job is important, and why you think they’re the best fit for the job.

After the Ask

And once you’ve made the ask, say nothing. Let them think it over in their head. Let them talk it out openly. Answer questions if they have them, but don’t push them.

If they say yes, great! Let them know what’s next. Let them know when any required trainings and meetings will be held – what resources and support are available to them. Make sure to say thank you.

Then follow up with a call in the next few days to answer any concerns that may have come up after you left the first meeting.

If they say no, fine. Thank them for their time. Their “no” now isn’t a “no” forever. Don’t take their rejection personally. They’re not rejecting you (usually), but rather, other factors and commitments in their lives take priority right now.

You just move down your list to the next person. They are now the first person on your list, and when you meet with them, you can tell them that the committee met, and that they are on the top of your list.

Repeat this process until you’ve gotten your volunteer in place.

And never give up.


And by the way… thank you for what you’re doing to make our community a better place.

Photo by ToOliver2

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Recruiting, Scouting, Volunteering