Are you familiar with the concept of loss leaders? These are products that retailers sell at a loss in order to get you in the door–and get you to spend more money. Of course, loss leaders aren’t the only tools retailers use. They also use grand openings and cross-promotions and advertising and coupons and a host of other techniques to drive traffic.
I was thinking about such techniques this week because it occurs to me that most troops need more ways to get potential adult leaders in the door. The traditional method–inviting people to sign up for open-ended (or lifelong) terms as assistant Scoutmasters or troop committee members–works mostly with people who really don’t need to be invited. But what about that mom who thinks she’s too busy at work to get involved? Or that dad who’s not that into camping? Or the chartered-organization member who would be a great leader if she would only give it a try?
How could you get those folks involved? I can think of 137 or so ways. They’re called merit badges.
Figure out a person’s passion and then invite him to counsel a relevant merit badge. He’ll have to register as a counselor, complete Youth Protection training, and be approved by the council advancement committee, of course, but that just makes it easier for him to eventually become a full-fledged leader.
Don’t throw 20 Scouts at your new volunteer in a classroom setting. Instead, invite him to take 20 or 30 minutes at a troop meeting to introduce the badge and help Scouts complete a requirement or two. If a few Scouts follow up to complete the badge, great! If not, at least you’ve gotten your prospect in the door to see what Scouting is all about. And you haven’t had to give away cases of soda to do so.