Division Membership Building Tools

Cooperative Success

Key to Cooperative Success
  • One of the main troubles facing modern-day organizations is the lack of member engagement. The success of any Division is highlighted by the importance given to membership participation.
  • It is important for Division leaders to listen to their brother’s advice and opinions and to make sure committee members are taken into account and are kept involved in the decision making process.
  • Remember, low levels of engagement also leads to a lack of economic participation.
  • The more your brothers are involved in the functions of your Division, the more likely they will contribute to the continued expansion of the Division.
  • Membership involvement also enhances membership retention.


Cooperative Principles

Cooperative Principles
  • Actively employ the services and talents of your Division brothers. This step can effectively address the issue of low membership engagement.
  • Encourage your brothers to accept the responsibilities of membership.
  • Involve your Brothers in establishing policy, making decisions, and in planning events.
  • Provide the necessary training and guidance for new brothers so that they can become future leaders within the Division by getting them involved with current officers as assistants.
  • Establish programs and events that will help to establish a common bond among your brothers.  The greater the common bond, the more successful the Division will be in increasing membership involvement.
  • Increased membership involvement leads to higher trust and a desire to cooperate more with the members of that Division.
  • Assign a Brother to keep in contact with a new member and to keep the new member involved with the Division.
  • Divisions serve their members best and strengthen their organization when they effectively work together with the State and National Boards.
  • Divisions strengthen their organization when they actively engage their community organizations and leaders. Community involvement is important to the success and growth of the Division.


Membership Engagement

Membership Engagement
  • Division leaders can take a number of actions to increase membership engagement and a sense of belonging.
  • A study by Birchall and Simmons (What Motivates Members to Participate in the Governance of Consumer Cooperatives? A Study of the Cp-operative Group.) finds that members who actively participate in their organizations have greater awareness of and connection to the groups’ goals and values. Such members report that they participate for the good of the organization, not for individualistic reasons.
  • Brothers who identify with other brothers within the Division feel they are striving to achieve a common goal for the betterment of that Division.
  • Establish procedures to guide, assist and engage new members.  Make sure new members feel welcomed and that they are an important part of the Division.
  • Establish procedures that encourage and maintain ongoing communications to existing members.  One method is to establish a quarterly newsletter within the Division.  Another method is to establish and maintain a functional and informative Division website that is linked with the State and National Websites.
  • Establish simple ways for members to interact with each other and to work together on projects.
  • Maintain continual exposure of brothers to the Division objectives and the importance of their participation for the success of the organization.
  • Remember, brothers who actively participate have a greater understanding of the Division’s goals and objectives.
  • Unity within the Division helps keep brothers satisfied, maintains the Division’s relevance, and increases continuing participation.
  • Make sure brothers understand the significance and importance of membership within the Ancient Order of Hibernians and what it means to be a brother.
  • The more opportunities brothers have for participation within the Division the higher the likelihood of engagement.
  • Participation can take many forms:  Community programs, fund raisers, social events, elective office, overseeing elections, committee work, involvement is setting Division goals, political initiatives, church involvement and support, Project St. Patrick, United Ireland resolutions, Irish Heritage Proclamation, charity work, Irish and Irish-American history programs, Irish cultural programs, etc.
  • Most important, live our motto of Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity.




  1. State District Directors, County Board Presidents, Division Presidents, and Organizers at all levels should do everything possible to encourage a sense of Brotherhood with other Divisions, Counties, and the State Board. Discourage the feeling of isolation and not belonging to the larger organization.
  2. Encourage social events within the Division membership.
  3. Organize and participate in social events with other Divisions in your area to foster the feeling of Brotherhood.
  4. State District Directors, County Board Presidents, and Organizers should try to visit each Division and/or County Board is their area annually. Reassure members that all of the AOH Board Officers, from Division to National, are anxious to support and encourage them. Hold Question and Answer sessions at as many Division meetings as you can.
  5. State District Directors and Organizers should take a copy of the AOH video to each of these meetings, and show it, where possible. Give a copy to the Division President if they don’t have one.
  6. Educate Divisions, if necessary, on how to conduct meetings and perform rituals such as Shamrock Degrees, etc. Attend their meetings if necessary to monitor how their meetings are conducted, and how the Shamrock Degree ceremony is executed. It’s important that members feel that they belong to a very special organization.
  7. When members don’t renew their membership, the President, or his designee, should:
    • Call them. Make sure there’s not a stupid reason for a member not renewing – i.e. didn’t receive a notice to pay his dues.
    • Encourage them to reconsider. If he’s comfortable discussing it, ask him for his reasons for leaving.
    • If he’s not comfortable discussing it, or you can’t reach him personally, send him a questionnaire – including a self-addressed stamped envelope – to try to determine his reason(s) for leaving.
    • Encourage someone in the Division, preferably the brother that sponsored them for Division membership, to mentor the member and ensure that they come to meetings and get involved in a committee that interests them.
    • If they don’t have a ride to the meeting, try to find someone to pick him up!
    • Don’t give them an easy reason to leave the Order.
  8. At Division meetings when new members are sworn in, encourage members to wear name tags. A few blank sheets of name tags can be purchased cheaply at office supply stores. Permanent name tags are great, but it’s difficult to make sure that all members bring them to all of the swearing-in meetings. Have blank ones on hand to be sure.
  9. Set aside some time for some socializing after the Division meetings. Try not to schedule the meeting so late in the evening or on a bad day that encourages members to leave immediately following it.
  10. Immediately after swearing in a new member, give him 2 applications and encourage him to bring in a friend or family member. It not only increases our membership, it’s better for the new member if he’s not coming to the meetings alone.
  11. Show the AOH video at least once a year at a Division meeting. If it’s a new Division, try to show it more than once a year. It helps to encourage and educate members as to what we are all about. The most frequently asked question of potential members is “What does the AOH do?”
  12. Have the sponsor of a new member “mentor” him for 6 months or so. If he cared enough to bring him in, he will care enough to try to keep him in. Mentoring was mentioned in many of the suggestions received. For example, the sponsor should make sure that the new member has a ride to the meetings, if necessary. He should be invited to any socials, as well. Take an interest in him.
  13. Present AOH lapel pins to new members when they swear in. They’re only $3.00 each and can be ordered from the National Secretary.
  14. Membership documents are available in the Hibernian Digest. If you want to be creative, get a blank one and make framed copies for new members. They’re very impressive and inexpensive. A personalized, framed document, signed by the Division President and Secretary, can be done for less than $5.00!
  15. Organize events for the membership like an annual Mass & Communion Breakfast. If your Division doesn’t have a Chaplain to celebrate a Mass with you, contact a Chaplain from another Division and ask for help. If a Mass is not practical, you can still hold a Breakfast, or Dinner, and invite the families to attend. Make it a special, annual event. Arrange to present a “Hibernian of the Year” award! These are also great opportunities to recognize new members sworn-in over the past year and to present awards for service to Division members. “Certificate of Merit” documents can be obtained from the National Secretary, then signed, framed, and presented to members at very little cost or effort.
  16. Members that have received their Major Degrees are more faithful. Make every attempt to either bring a Degree Team to your area, or get a “road trip” together to attend one elsewhere. You may want or need to have your members travel to a State Convention to participate in a degree ceremony. But, a good road trip is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with new members and helps develop permanent and loyal members and friends. Arrange for a bus trip or put a few vans together.
  17. Recruit good members! Sometimes in our zeal to increase our numbers, we recruit members that are only marginally interested in what the Order is really all about. If they’re only looking to march in the Parade or party at the meetings, think twice before you bring them in. Remember that we all swore an oath to be diligent about the character of members we recruit.
  18. Some feel that immediately giving a new member a “job”, or assigning him to a committee, is a good thing so that they feel involved right from the start. Others feel that you could overwhelm the new member right off the bat. It seems that a good rule of thumb is to talk to the member. See what his interests are and involve him in those projects that fit his interests. Don’t give out assignments without giving it some thought.
  19. Talk to your State Board about encouraging Division participation in a Major Degree ceremony. Maybe you could encourage them to possibly subsidize more Degree Ceremonies across the State. The larger metropolitan areas can more easily afford to hold these rituals on their own than the more remote areas with a smaller AOH presence. Find out where the Degrees will be offered and try to travel to them.
  20. Have Financial Secretaries send out a bill, or notice, when it’s time for members to pay dues. Too many members become delinquent, then fall away all together, because they don’t, or can’t, get to meetings and aren’t reminded of their obligation. If a member falls a year behind, or worse, it’s too easy for them to just quit.

Selections of the above information and ideas were taken from www.filene.org