In 2016-17, the Veterans of Foreign Wars New Haven Post 12150 earned All-American status. Based on administration, programs, and membership growth we made achieving this honor a commander’s priority goal for the year.
So, how did we do it:
1. Administration: We filed our trustee audits, paid our bond, sent in our program reports, and made sure someone was at the district meeting. We had a “battle rhythm” or pacing chart for when things were due including the post audit. In this area, we behaved like a business.
2. Programs: We calculated what was the bare minimum required to receive a “complete” on the department activity report for a program, designated a plan, executed the plan, and made sure it was acknowledged. This included calculating costs for Buddy Poppy expenditures, Commander’s Special Project, and due dates in an Excel spreadsheet. While we exceeded many of those baselines, we knew what they were–you can’t exceed the standard if you don’t know what it is. We completed ALL of our mandatory programs before Thanksgiving, clearing the way for us to focus on the hard part…
3. Membership: The friends network, social media, and doing fun stuff were the three primary elements in our recruiting success. While we understood there would be no easier year to be All-American than our first full year as a post, the comrades went bizonkers on recruiting friends, inviting them to #VetEvents, and spreading the good word. It is much easier to invite a prospect to a quarterly extended happy hour to meet fellow veterans in a social context than to give them the hard sell over a folding table as to why they should join. “No photo, didn’t happen” was a mantra for making sure we posted our social and charitable events on social media.