Outreach, Stimulation and Retention

People join organizations for one (or more) of several reasons. They may have joined to learn new skills, or make a difference in the community. They may be looking to expand their creative horizons, or meet new people, or maybe they are just hoping to have some fun. Your success as a leader, and your ability to keep your group stimulated and active, will hinge on your ability to recognize people’s reasons for joining your group and acting to create opportunities for them to fulfill their goals. During recruitment, you will be most successful in recruiting higher numbers if you advertise in such a way that all of these opportunities are showcased within your group.

Generally, people who seek to join groups end up in one of four categories.

  • Those with achievement-based goals are focused on completing tasks and making a difference in the group or larger community. They work well alone or with other task-oriented members on challenging but attainable goals. With frequent feedback to let them know they are appreciated and doing well they often end up being powerhouses who get the majority of the work done.
  • Those whose motivations are recognition-based tend to join groups they believe will notice and reward their hard work. Appreciation of their contributions will go a long way to keeping them positive members of your organization, and they tend to be willing to go the extra mile for a group that recognizes their talents.
  • Students who have power-based goals often hope to become the next generation of leaders within an organization. They enjoy influencing others and tend to have natural management skills. They can be extremely persuasive members of the group, and will often be excellent recruiters, event planners, and speakers. You will need to take note of members who seek personal power and those who seek institutional power. The latter tend to organize and rally other members for the good of the group, while the former can try to persuade members to do what they want for their own personal gain. Personal power seekers will need extra attention from an organization’s president to ensure that their goals are staying in line with the group’s.
  • Affiliation-based members usually join to feel like a part of a larger whole, and because of this and a “go-with-the-flow” mentality, they prefer to work in large groups that allow them to build relationships with other people in the group. They tend to dislike conflict and be great cooperative workers, and are able to find compromise easily.

The following table can help you to understand what your different members need and why they might lose interest.

Motivator Requires Frequent Reasons for Leaving


1.       Interesting work

2.       Frequent, clear feedback

3.       Proof that their contribution makes a difference

1.       No personal growth

2.       Unclear goals

3.       Routine tasks

4.       Inability to implement change

Recognition 1.       Appreciation of their work

2.       Rewards-based: expectation of benefits or perks

1.       Lack of praise

2.       Lack of prestige/personal benefit

Power 1.       Opportunities to take on responsibility/management tasks

2.       Chance to influence others

1.       No personal growth

2.       Lack of responsibility /promotion

3.       Unclear goals

Affiliation 1.       Sense of belonging to a larger group/purpose

2.       Need to stay informed: may stay on the edges of the group.

1.       Group tension

2.       Lack of support

3.       No chance to build relationships

(Chart drawn from McClelland’s Theory of Acquired Needs)