When inactive members are asked, "Why did you choose to not renew your membership," the most common responses include:
- My honor society/chapter did not offer any programs/activities of interest to me
- My honor society/chapter did not do anything
- The offerings were not worth my time or money
- I never received any information about the events
- I did not know I was suppose to renew each year
As a developing honor society (DHS), your members are not entitled to Sigma benefits because the honor society is not yet an official chapter of Sigma. DHSs may operate for one, two or even 5+ years before becoming an official chapter. Therefore, creating member benefits at the honor society level is crucial to sustaining the 50+ members needed to become a chapter.
Member benefits are essential to recruitment and retention of members for developing honor societies. Benefits provide active engagement opportunities for members and encourage candidates to accept the invitation to join. Benefits are what keep members coming back for more. As a DHS it is important to maintain effective and sustainable benefits so members will see value in their membership.
When developing benefits, it is important to keep all member types in mind. For example, what might be attractive to a collegiate might not be as enticing for a nurse leader. We recommend surveying your members to determining their professional needs and interests to be able to offer the best and most essential programs and other benefits that will entice, excite, and retain members.
Sense of Community
Building a bond of "nursing-hood" is a major responsibility of developing honor societies. This is called an "intangible benefit" - one that money can't buy. This benefit is long-term and will encourage members to create organizational relationships and make life-long investments.
You can begin creating a sense of community through direct and indirect initiatives, such as:
Interest-based focus groups (book club, neonatal alliance, educators united, etc.)
Establishing ice-breakers at first event/program and meeting
Creating name tags with specialties
Commemorating holidays together
Planning a "Nursing Appreciation" celebration
Sending cards/appreciation communications to members (birthday, graduation, anniversary, retirement)
These are a few examples of ways to connect members with the developing honor society. Below are examples of benefits that can be implemented on the developing honor society level. Keep in mind that benefits need to be sustained. If you offer it, you must follow through with that promise. As you read through the samples, think of other benefits you can create through your nursing school/faculty/staff/community contacts. This can include creating a scholarship, have a discount day at the bookstore, nurses day at a local restaurant...the opportunities are endless!
Programming & Events
Well-planned programs will be the main catalyst for exciting and enticing member participation. The developing honor society/chapter should offer several types of programs to meet members interest and professional development needs. Just remember, programs offered must meet the purposes and goals of Sigma.
Here are some ideas:
Tangible Benefit Ideas for DHS Members
Tangible benefits make DHS members feel special and part of the DHSs history and development into an Sigma chapter.
- "Limited edition" DHS items: only for members that joined before DHS became a chapter
- DHS pin, t-shirt, honor cord, stole, lanyard/badge reel, pens, customizable items
- Letter explaining importance of a chartering member of DHS
- Sigma books
- Member Packet
- Sample Chartering Member Letter
- Copy of current DHS bylaws
- Chapter newsletter
- Meet the Board sheet with contact information
- Calendar of events for upcoming year
- Welcome gift
- Tote bag, t-shirt, lapel pine, honor cords, etc.