The membership program is the lifeblood of the VFW. Without members, there would be no people to carry out the other programs and no money with which to fund them. And without enough members to give the VFW its political clout, it would have little chance of successfully grappling with veterans' problems and needs.
To guide the membership program, each national Commander-in-Chief sets his personal recruitment quota for the VFW as a whole. In arriving at this quota, the Commander-in-Chief takes into consideration the number of members who will be lost each year due to death or to failures to renew membership ("back-door losses"). Currently, this number averages about 7 percent of the total membership each year - about 140,000 members in 1989. In order to show any gain in membership, the quota must therefore be set at greater than 7 percent of the present membership.
Once a national recruitment goal has been decided upon, each department, district, county council, and post is given an individual quota. These quotas are based on the units' total membership the previous year. Smaller units - posts of one hundred members, for example - may be asked to increase their membership to 125 percent, while a larger post of one thousand members may only be assigned a 101 percent objective. If units meet or exceed their quotas, they receive recognition from their department and/or the national organization. Units that win national recognition are given All American status, and those that win department recognition are given All State status. Along with this recognition, units and their commanders may win gifts or nationally sponsored trips.
The actual method of recruiting varies from unit to unit and commander to commander. What motivates one recruiter or team of recruiters may not encourage others. Each unit commander designs his own program or agrees to one designed by his membership chairman. Usually, individual recruiters are given small awards as tokens of the commander's thanks and to reward them for their success. For example, a recruiter who signed up three new or reinstated members might receive the Commander's Pin. For ten members, he might earn a special recruiting pin, and for twenty-five, a jacket personalized with his name, the VFW Emblem, and name of his post. For fifty members, the recruiter receives a national designation as "National Aide de Camp, Recruiting Class," a VFW Cap bearing that designation, and has his or her name listed in the National General Orders published in the VFW Magazine.
The success of the VFW's membership program is reflected in the organization's steady growth over the years. Since 1899, membership has grown from the original 13 members to over 2 million. The most recent tally, in 1990, showed 10,513 posts as of April and approximately 2,100,000 members by National Convention time in August. (Of this total, 52 percent had received campaign ribbons in World War II, 21 percent in the Korean War, 24 percent in the Vietnam War, and 3 percent from occupation duty and expeditionary service in twenty smaller campaigns.) In reaching this total, each of the VFW's fifty-four departments had surpassed its previous year's membership. This marked the thirty-fifth consecutive year in which the VFW has increased in size. No other major organization can make that claim.
© VFW 1998 . Created by Lynn - Last Updated 29 Dec 2001