Welcoming New Members
New members should be introduced at the beginning of their first meeting. This introduction can be as simple as preparing a brief but meaningful welcome message and presenting the new member with a member pin, name badge and certificate. (Pins and badges are available for sale in the Soroptimist Store; the new member certificate can be downloaded here.) Welcoming new members in this way can take the place of holding a traditional induction ceremony, which is not a requirement. These ceremonies may seem too formal or old-fashioned for some new members, possibly making them uncomfortable. While traditions of the club should be respected, the feelings and preferences of the women being welcomed into the club need to be taken into account as well.
Clubs that perform induction ceremonies might want to consider adapting the language and sentiment of the ceremony into an updated welcome message that is presented more informally. Using language from Soroptimist’s Live Your Dream initiative as the basis for such a message will ensure that it is fun and inspirational. Following is sample language clubs can adapt and customize:
The members of Soroptimist International of [club name] are honored that you have accepted our invitation to join us. It is our privilege to welcome you to a worldwide organization of members who are committed to improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.
Our name Soroptimist is a coined Latin word meaning “best for women,” and that’s what our club strives to achieve. Soroptimists are women at their best working to help other women to be their best. We believe in dreams and the collective power of working together to achieve them.
Soroptimist membership celebrates the unique power of women. It’s a gift that women give to themselves: the chance to help others in an atmosphere of support, friendship and fun. We look forward to helping you explore the gift of membership as you participate in club projects and activities that advance our mission.
As a token of your new membership, we present to you this Soroptimist pin. The pin represents your commitment to our mission and to empowering women and girls to live their dreams by giving them the resources to create positive change for themselves, their families, their communities and the world.
Some other ways to make new members feel welcome:
- In addition to a pin, certificate and name badge, give new members a “goodies” bag at their first meeting. Purchase Live Your Dream tote bags and fill them with a Live Your Dream t-shirt and nail file, candy or snacks and other small, inexpensive items.
- Hold a dinner at which new members are the guests of honor and the focus is getting to know each other – not club business.
- Include a profile and photo of each new member in the club newsletter and on the club website (remember to follow SIA’s website guidelines, and be sure to protect the privacy of the members).
- Do an icebreaker at the beginning of any meeting attended by new members that introduces them in a fun and memorable way while encouraging current members to break out of cliques. This may seem like overkill to current members, but the more that club members know each other, the better the chance they will be comfortable being honest with and supportive of each other.
- If there is a large group of new members joining the club, consider doing a speed networking event, during which members sit with each other for five minutes to exchange information about themselves. The structure of speed networking provides a more comfortable environment for introverted members and also allows members to keep moving so they’re not stuck in one place – with one person – for too long.
- Before meetings, offer rides to new members to make them feel more comfortable about where they are going, and so they do not have to enter the meeting alone.
- Designate a current member or members to greet attendees at the door and to direct new members to the appropriate area so they immediately feel included and are not wandering aimlessly.
- Use seating arrangements that encourage current members to sit next to new members.
- Make sure new members know their member ID number so they can access the secure areas of the members website. If they have not already received it via email, the number can be obtained from the club roster on the members website or by contacting member services at headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Send a press release to local media about new members.
The most important thing to remember when welcoming new members is to be creative! How a member is welcomed is entirely at the club’s discretion. Whether it is a formal dinner or a humorous icebreaker, make the welcome unique to your club and memorable for both new and current members.