How to Recruit Members for Your AAUW Student Organization


New members have the potential to bring energy to your organization and strengthen your existing community. Not only will recruiting new members increase your attendance at events, but it also will help sustain your organization when it’s time to transition to new leaders. Recruitment is a year-round process, and it requires more than just you. Set your AAUW student organization up for success by using these helpful tips to advance your group’s recruitment skills.

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Step 1: Know Why People Get Involved With AAUW

Think back to why you started or joined an AAUW student organization. Was it the policy issues AAUW advocates for? How about the campus leadership or professional development opportunities? What about AAUW’s overall mission? There are lots of ways to get involved with AAUW and empower women and girls, so make sure you identify what makes your student organization distinct.

Step 2: Make an Action Plan

Create a detailed plan as early as possible to start your organization off on the right foot.

Know your campus

Make sure to keep your unique campus in mind as you come up with strategies to recruit members. Every college and university has its own set of policies and procedures, so make sure you work with your school to follow the student organization guidelines that are already in place.

Knowing what types of students you want to target and engage will be key to your success. Think about what gender equity issues are hot topics on your campus. What are the best ways to catch students’ attention and promote your events?

Set specific goals

Work with your leadership board to make your organization’s vision, goals, and purpose clear. How many students do you want to attend your meetings? What about your campus events? Having these numbers set in the beginning will be helpful when you assess your work at the end of the year.

Evaluate your goals using the SMART test: Are your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound? The SMART test will help you be strategic and practical as you set your goals.

Be prepared to pitch

Ask yourself what new members gain by joining your organization. In addition to the on-campus events and feminist community you offer, your members have access to a wide range of leadership programs, cutting-edge research, advocacy tools, and other benefits. You never know when the opportunity to recruit will present itself. Be prepared, and have your elevator speech ready.

Choose your tactics

Think beyond just tabling at your school’s involvement fair. What strategies work best on your campus to motivate students to join your cause? What are some high-traffic locations that attract a diverse group of students?

You can recruit in two different ways: directly or indirectly.

Direct recruitment

  • Send personal invitations. This is the best and least expensive type of publicity that you can use. Ask your current members to identify people they know who should get involved and to personally invite them to attend a meeting. New members feel much more at ease when they know someone else in the room already.
  • Use word of mouth. Talk about your group when you attend other events, during other organizations’ meetings, during a group project, or even at the beginning of a class.
  • Think about tabling. Setting up a table in a popular location is one of the best ways to spread the word about your organization.

Indirect recruitment

  • Use social media. Update your organization’s social media accounts. Make sure that you post frequently and have your student organization’s official AAUW logosto show that your group is active and excited for new members.
  • Publish a calendar. Create an overview of what the upcoming school year will look like so new members have a better idea about what you do.
  • Make hard copies. Don’t underestimate the power of an eye-catching flyer or poster in your student union. Post a flyer about your student org on campus bulletin boards, or draw sidewalk chalk in high-traffic locations.
  • Remember e-mail. Besides creating an e-mail list for your own members, see if there is a popular campus Listserv or newsletter that you can use.
  • Get in print. Take advantage of your campus’ school newspaper or other publications to advertise your meetings and events. List your upcoming meetings in relevant on-campus or department newsletters.

Step 3: Use These Successful Recruitment Tips

Start early

Event space on campus often fills up fast! Getting your events on the schedule early will set you up for success.

Collaboration is key

Find solidarity in numbers. When you collaborate with other student organizations or faculty on campus, you are not only more likely to have more attendees at your events, but you also diversify your audience. Make sure that professors who teach or do research on gender-equity issues know about your student organization and know where to send students who might be interested.

Recruit first- or second-year students

The people who graduate after you are the people who will carry on your organization’s legacy after you leave. Leadership positions in the organization will not only build résumés but will also give future members stronger connections to AAUW’s mission.

Be intentional about diversity and inclusion.

While recruiting, it is important to think about other marginalized communities that could also benefit from the work your student organization does to empower women and girls. If your members are largely from one identity group or have a lot in common, think about who is not represented and how you can include them.

Collect information

Writing down potential new members’ contact information will help you reach out to them in the future about meetings and campus events. Encourage them to join or follow your social media accounts or other communication outlets.

Pass out branded materials

Don’t miss this opportunity to make AAUW more visible on your campus! If your student organization is low on AAUW materials, e-mail

Encourage action

Your new members should leave with some idea of next steps. If your school is an AAUW college/university partner member, students can sign up to become free AAUW e-student affiliates. Students can also sign up to become Two-Minute Activists to make their voices heard.

Keep up the enthusiasm!

Your organization is paving the way for women leaders, and the work you do is necessary on your campus.

Step 4: Follow Up

After you’ve hooked some potential new members, find ways to keep them interested. Spend time getting to know them and letting them get to know you, too. Spend time trying to create opportunities that spark their interests. Let potential new members know that the organization values everyone’s input and effort and how they can get more involved.

Step 5: Assess Your Efforts

Take time to regularly evaluate your progress. Have you made progress toward your goals? Are you reaching the number of people you intended? Work with your leadership board to understand what is working and where you can make adjustments.

Step 6: Celebrate Achievements

Don’t forget to recognize your student organization members who recruit new members. Make time to socialize and celebrate your achievements. If all you do as a group is work, it will become a burden to participate, and your members will quickly lose interest and leave. You can make a difference and enjoy your student organization experience at the same time!


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