Membership Growth Takes a Personal Touch

April 2016
Alexis Limberakis, Ambler, PA
Philoptochos is Philanthropy-Fellowship-Faith in Action!
Membership growth and retention is a key component to the success of any organization and Philoptochos is no exception.

Although the annual Membership Drive begins in January, membership growth should be on the agenda of every Philoptochos chapter all year. As members ourselves, we should always realize that this entails the responsibility to let all women in our parish know about the extraordinary work that each Philoptochos chapter does.

Members are the face of Philoptochos and its best recruiting tool! In my experience I have learned that the best way to reach women is the “one on one” approach. I have surprisingly learned that many women had not joined because no one had ever asked them to do so!

I have also been surprised to learn that many women do not know the purpose  of Philoptochos.  This revelation has led me to realize that many of us automatically assume that everyone knows about our philanthropic mission. Or maybe chapters are waiting to  be approached by potential members. Either one of these scenarios will not help increase the membership level of any chapter!
What simple issues to resolve! There are many opportunities to introduce others to our dynamic organization. So often there are new members in a parish or long time parishioners who have never joined. Take a few moments to explain and enlighten these individuals about the scope of our philanthropy!  A friendly smile and an invitation to come to a Philoptochos meeting can go a long way!

Sometimes we are faced with the challenge of changing certain perceptions about Philoptochos. Perceptions that we are simply “the ladies that bake”. While baking is still part of most chapters, it truly is a small part. As members, we need to present the bigger picture of Philoptochos philanthropy, which is certainly not funded only by bake sales.
In the February/March 2016 issue of the Orthodox Observer, it was reported that National Philoptochos disbursed $1.74 million for philanthropy. This impressive figure does not include what the different Metropolis boards disburse nor does it include what the more than 400 local chapters disburse. What a stellar example of philanthropy we have in our parishes! Use this information as a way to educate others on the ability of Philoptochos to help those in need.

I believe that many people, including  younger women and millennials, want to do hands-on outreach and just need an outlet to do so. Philoptochos  offers that avenue. It cannot be overemphasized that the more members we have, the greater effect we will have in changing lives for the better.
It is my hope that all members make that extra effort to bring all Greek Orthodox women into our Sisterhood. Use the personal approach and also be approachable! Women do join because someone reached out to acknowledge and welcome them to experience philanthropy, faith and fellowship in action!