How to Recruit College/University Partner Members

AAUW college/university partner membership keeps growing and growing, and it’s no wonder. There are so many benefits to AAUW membership for schools and students, and connecting with local campuses is a great way for branches and states to raise visibility, recruit new members, and get involved in women’s issues on campus. You, as members, are the best ambassadors to recruiting your local colleges and universities to join the AAUW community.

So, how do you get started?

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Step 1: Create a plan to reach out to local campuses.

Find out what schools in your state are already C/U partner member institutions, and target specific schools that are a good fit for your branch.

Make a list of schools you want to pursue, keeping in mind that these types might be most receptive:

  • A women’s college
  • A school that any members may have connections with as alumnae or as current or former faculty or staff
  • A school with a women’s center, women’s studies department, women’s leadership program, or other program that focuses on recruiting and retaining women students
  • Any school with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) offerings
  • Community colleges
  • Any school that was formerly a C/U partner member

Once you make your list, it may make sense to send different branch and state members to different schools, depending on their existing relationships and connections. Find out if anyone in your branch has a strong background in marketing or relationship building, and ask those folks to volunteer for visits. And don’t hesitate to pair up for visits!

Determine which offices at the school would be the best to contact. We suggest meeting with people whose positions involve student programs and equity or women’s issues, such as the director of student life, student affairs staff members, women’s center directors, career counselors, service-learning coordinators, civic engagement center directors, deans or professors of women’s studies or sociology, STEM program coordinators, human services staff, or the dean of students.

Step 2: Prepare for an effective meeting with campus staff.

Research the school — the background, mission, vision, and marketing — to understand their needs and focus and determine your best approach. The more you know about the school, the more you will be able to find connections to what AAUW has to offer them. Know the programs, issues, and needs of the school. Their website, newspaper, Facebook, and Twitter are great resources. This is extremely important. You don’t want to approach the campus if there is a sensitive issue that you are unaware of.

Think about using the Graduate School Fair at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders as a hook.

girl at a graduate school fair
If you speak with the graduate school admissions staff, you can offer the reduced rates for the fair as a carrot, sign the institution up, and then segue the relationship to build bridges with other departments. (E-mail us if you want advice regarding the Graduate School Fair).

Think about what advantages — beyond the normal benefits of membership — the institution can get from AAUW. Remember, it is a competitive job market out there, and you can offer free e-student affiliation and leadership opportunities to their students. Schools are looking to offer their students an edge. You can give them one!Plan to schedule a meeting with the person you have chosen to target during a slower time in the academic calendar.

Getting in touch during the following times will likely result in low yields because students, faculty, and staff are preoccupied:

  • August and September: The very beginning of the semester can be a busy time for all.
  • December: Everyone is focused on finals and wrapping up programs and classes.
  • April and May: Students are often wrapping up events for their student organizations, and it is the season of awards ceremonies.
  • June and July: Students, faculty, and some staff do not check their school e-mail during summer break.
  • Any holiday

Instead, propose membership in time for schools to plan it in their budget for the upcoming year:

  • Most schools operate on a July 1–June 30 fiscal year.
  • Budgets are proposed in February or March.
  • Other times that can be effective to contact C/U staff and faculty could be October, November, late January, February, or March.

Plan ahead and allocate some money to offer to help pay for all or part of a new school’s membership or to pay for AAUW offerings such as $tart $mart salary negotiation workshops or scholarships for the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

Finally, make sure you understand the roles and responsibilities of the C/U representative, and make sure you order copies of the C/U, student membership, and fellowships and grants brochures and copies of relevant research reports.

Step 3: Meet with campus staff members.

Now that you’re prepared, what should you cover when you meet with someone?

Discuss the benefits and value of becoming a C/U partner member:

Highlight graduate student membership if the school has graduate programs. All graduate students are eligible to join AAUW at an introductory rate of $18.81! Normally the fee for this membership is $49.

Promote any scholarships or programs for college women that your branch or state provides. Find out the number and amounts of scholarships your branch or state has given, and use that as a discussion point about how AAUW shows commitment to supporting students.

Encourage schools to complete the membership application in the C/U brochure or to join online. Briefly explain the role of the C/U representative as the liaison between AAUW and students, faculty, and staff. If you have a branch member who is a faculty or staff member and is willing to serve in this role, the school will still need to appoint them as the official C/U representative.

At the end of the meeting, establish a next step — will they need to discuss the C/U membership with other staff members? When can you expect to hear from them? Make sure to thank them for their time.

Step 4: Follow up on your meeting with an e-mail.

Send an e-mail within a day or two thanking them for their time, and reiterate why an AAUW membership is of benefit to their school. Highlight anything that stood out from your meeting.

If you don’t hear back within two to four weeks, send a follow-up message. You can also check to see if they have already become a member by looking at the online directory or logging into the Member Services Database. Once membership forms are submitted to the national office, it can take up to two weeks for it to be fully processed and up on our C/U partnership directory.

Once the school is an official member, schedule a meeting with the C/U representatives and ask them to invite any other faculty, staff, or students who may be interested in AAUW. Use this time to strategize with the school about how to make the most of their membership by bringing AAUW programs to campus, how to best promote the e-SAF program, where you can post information about AAUW on Listservs and their website, and how they can get involved in branch activities.

Step 5: Continue to engage the campus with AAUW opportunities.

Build a relationship with the C/U representative, and share the great work of your branch or state.

Here are some ideas for staying involved:

  • Encourage them to promote the e-student affiliate program on Listservs and websites.
  • Ask to have information about AAUW displayed in the women’s center, gender studies department, student activities center, and highly visible bulletin boards.
  • Ask about getting a story about the school’s relationship with AAUW in the campus newspaper or faculty and staff newsletters.
  • Bring national Campus Leadership Programs to the school.
  • Participate in campus activities such as advocacy and issue forums, and attend events to get to know the issues and personality of the school.
  • Be sure you know who the C/U representatives are in each partner member institution near you. Hold an orientation session for new reps in your area so they can better understand their roles.
  • Invite faculty, graduate students, and administrators to branch events to introduce them to AAUW and discuss potential partnerships.
  • Encourage the institution and students to create an AAUW student organization. E-mail for more information.

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