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Membership Matters-Notes from Hawaii

By Andrea Hickey posted 09-25-2019 12:12


As we begin our lapsed member contact campaign, I wanted to share with you all some notes from Region X Membership Chair Michael Leiberman.  See his insights below, and you can also download them here:  ASCLS_Membership_Committee_Activities_article-v2.docx

Membership Committee Activities: A view from the Aloha State

            Many, many, many years ago when I was a young student in Chicago, my professor took a vacation to Hawaii.  When he returned he said “Hawaii is so beautiful.  But you can’t do science there.  Nobody would want to work inside of a lab all day long!”  Well, that just goes to prove, even professors can be wrong!  Yes, the Aloha State is abundantly wealthy in nature, geography, climate, and most certainly in the people and culture, but with persistence and perseverance, we can work all day in a lab and do good science (and still enjoy the abundance of our state).  Which brings me to the topic of this article:  membership retention and the lapsed member campaign.  For those who do not know, our lapsed member campaign kicks off in October, and we take the time to personally contact every member that has lapsed from our state society. I don’t think there are any novel or innovative strategies to employ, but just good old-fashioned persistence and perseverance.  The key is personal communication with each individual lapsed member, by email and telephone, multiple times. 

The Personal Email

            In conducting our lapsed member campaign in Hawaii, I contacted each person on the lapsed member list, first by individual email.  There were two different kinds of emails:  one for people whom I knew and a different one for people whom I didn’t know.  In the first case, I tried to relate some personal history or shared activity in the past, such as an event that we both participated in or another scientific meeting that we both attended.  I then asked if the lapse was just an oversight and that the member simply forgot to renew.  If that was the case, then the email was to be considered as just a “friendly reminder” to renew.  But if the lapse was intentional, then the email went on to list some of the benefits of membership, such as attendance at the annual conference and other educational events at discounted rates with the accrual of P.A.C.E. continuing education credits, networking with colleagues, social events, etc.  And also, not to be diminished is the advocacy that ASCLS does on behalf of laboratory professionals and the clinical laboratory profession to gain professional credibility and recognition of the value of clinical laboratory personnel to medical science and patient care.  In the case of lapsed members whom I didn’t know, the email started out with an introduction of myself as the state membership committee chairperson, and then went on in a similar manner as the email to members whom I knew, asking if the lapse was just an oversight.  Again, the benefits of membership were stressed as well as advocacy activities of the society and the lapsed member was strongly encouraged to renew and “help our society grow”.

The Friendly Phone Call

            I followed up the first email with a telephone call about a week later.  If there was no answer, a message was left on the messaging system, or if another person answered the phone, I left a message with that person.  In the phone call I simply asked if the person had seen the email and if they had considered renewal.  I reiterated some of the points mentioned in the email and again strongly encouraged them to renew. 

The Follow Up Email

After checking to determine how many of the original lapsed members had now renewed after the email and telephone call, a second email was sent to those members who had not yet renewed about 2 weeks after the telephone call.  The second email was sent as a “reply to” from the first email so that both emails would be received together by the lapsed member.  In the second email, I asked if the person remembered seeing the email below and had a chance to consider membership renewal.  Renewal was strongly encouraged so that the member could “take advantage of the many benefits of membership and contribute to the strength of our society”.

Tracking the Process

Each individual contact by email and by telephone was entered onto a spreadsheet with names, dates, and times (for telephone calls).  After downloading the monthly roster to check for renewals of the lapsed members, the results of the contacts (renewed or not) were then entered onto the spreadsheet as well.

Continued Engagement

ASCLS-Hawaii has also conducted several other outreach activities designed to engage laboratorians, such as a “Road Show”, in which a national meeting presentation was shown to laboratory personnel at various labs around the state.  This is a good way to make non-members aware of ASCLS and what we can do for them.  Medical Laboratory Professionals Week was promoted with activities designed to engage laboratorians.  An outreach to high school students was also conducted to sow the seeds of interest in medical laboratory science early on in a student’s academic career.  And several fun activities were organized, including a brewery tour (the “Science of Beer”), a food science lab (“Playing with Food”), and an interesting tour of one of Hawaii’s oldest cemeteries (Oahu Cemetery) in which some early notable public health figures in Hawaii are buried.  Learning objectives were developed for most of these activities and CE credits awarded.  These activities were organized by our state society leaders (Sheri Gon, Kristen Croom, Susan Naka, President and Past Presidents, and other directors).

Too bad my old professor isn’t around to see us now!


Michael Lieberman, PhD, D(ABMLI)