Minnesota Wing CAP

Recruiting and Retention

How to guide to Recruiting and Retention

Finding, and most importantly keeping members is critical to the success and survival of a unit. Listed below are techniques and advice which have worked for other CAP units. These things have helped them get members and keep members.


1. Marketing: Obtain posters from National Headquarters Marketing & Public Relations. Get permission to display the posters in prominent locations (schools, businesses, airports, etc.).

2. Contact Information: List the unit phone number in the phone book, including the Yellow Pages and under emergency numbers. Many units have made arrangements to have CAP listed in the emergency section under "search and rescue." The business pages are another good option.

3. Return Calls & Emails: If a member or potential member leaves a message or sends an email; reply ASAP. People who are eager to join or find out information about CAP routinely call NHQ, but have not received a reply from their local Unit Commander. Frequently members who are leaving CAP feel the Commander didn’t care because they weren’t getting a reply.

4. Recruiting Events: Set up recruiting booths at local events, particularly if they are aviation or aerospace oriented. Local air shows are always a big draw and a valuable source of potential members. Give prizes to the Cadet and Senior Member’s bringing in the most new members. Furthermore Public Servants such as Firefighters, Police Officers, and Emergency Medical Personnel are great people to attract to CAP

5. Get on the Internet: Many Units have developed web pages, which give publicity and contact information for prospective members. Minnesota Wing provides free web-space to each Squadron. Use this valuable asset to advertise your Unit and keep your members informed. If your unit doesn't have a web page, the Recruiting & Retention Office can help your Unit develop one. You may contact the Wing Recruiting & Retention Officer or Wing IT Officer via email at any time for more information and to obtain your free unit web space.


 Retention simply means keeping the people you recruit. CAP is not a free organization to belong to. Members will renew if they are satisfied with their experience and perceived value. Your members will base their perceptions of value on their interaction with the leaders and other members of your Unit, and the opportunities your Unit provides. Remember, if you lose a member, you must recruit two new members to grow.

1. Activities: Lack of activity or training is one of the most frequently cited reasons for leaving CAP. Try to have host an event once a month. It can be anything: a Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), Aerospace Education workshop, a Cadet Orientation Flight Day which is followed by a barbeque, hosting a monthly family night to promote friends and family to explore CAP and to present special awards.

2. Communication: No one wants to be kept in the dark and Minnesota Wing has a Wing E-mail List, which contains a majority of the member’s emails. Note: E-mail lists can be found here. With this tool you can contact individual members, entire Squadrons or people who have specific roles: E.g. Squadron Commanders Be sure to sign-up for the Squadron, Group and Wing mailing lists to help you stay up-to-date on events and other information.

3. Plan: A meeting conducted with last-minute planning shows it. Doing so shows a lack of respect to members and the time and money they have spent to be in CAP. A well-planed meeting is not only productive, but also helps keep members.

4. Set the example: Keep your appearance up and make sure that you follow CAPM 39-1 (Uniforms) If you can’t keep up your own appearance, how can you expect others?

5. Awards: Make sure they are awarded as soon as they are earned. Encourage Command Staff to provide the recognition the member deserves. Take photos and mention all awards in your Squadrons newsletter. Doing so encourages other members to do the same.

6. Follow through: Always say you’ll do what you say you’ll do by the deadline you’ve set. If you can't, provide an explanation, never assume the members know why. Personal contact is the key to retention.

7. Require adherence to Customs & Courtesies: Many Cadets are attracted to CAP because of the "military" ambiance and a desire for the structure and discipline CAP offers. Additionally they want the responsibility and the chance to prove that they did it and did it well. CAP offers young people the opportunity to be trained in Emergency Medical Response, navigation, crash site procedures, radio communications, traffic control, close order drill, direction finding for Emergency Locator Transmitters, and more. These people are proud of their accomplishments and want to be recognized through these accomplishments in a society that may see them simply as “teenagers” and all that implies.

8. Appreciate your members: Cadets & Seniors come from all walks of life and a diverse group of backgrounds. Some may be different or odd, but they too have the potential to achieve. No one should ever be excluded or singled out for being different or standing out. All members are of value to CAP and should be included as much as possible.

9. Show your appreciation: Don't let a great member "burn out" – a simple thank you, or job well done might be that extra push to keep a member going, or if they have done something outstanding a Certificate of Appreciation is appropriate.

10. Keep new members active: Most new members come to us willing and eager to help. Keep a “to do” list of basic things an inexperienced member can do. If new members don’t feel needed or welcomed, odds are they won’t come back.

11. Greet everyone: It can be very intimidating for new people who are interested in CAP but don’t know anyone at the meeting. Also greeting existing members provides a sense of welcoming and sense of belonging. Always have visitor’s sign-in and leave contact information. Have people in your Unit who are willing and able to greet and guide new members around the Unit and introduce them to key people such as the Unit Commander. Finally, a handshake and "Thank your for visiting. Hope you're here next week." Is always a great way to close a first impression. Be sure to follow up with a phone call or email before the next meeting.

12. Recruit Parents. Parents can be a rich source of Senior Members, because they have a natural interest in the program due to their children's participation. Make parents feel welcome as soon as their Cadets join. Fostering an early interest will lead to a lasting relationship. Encourage parents to get involved with the unit and make sure they know the Commander, their contact info, as well as other parents.

A "Parent's Night" is a good way to do this. Provide a calendar of events, and if it changes, notify them. Encourage them to always check times, dates, chaperones, etc. Make sure adult supervision is waiting for the cadets when parents are delivering a child to an activity.

Keep in mind there is also the Cadet Sponsor Member (CSM) category of membership for parents/guardians of cadets who do not want to become full-fledged senior members.

13. Assign a mentor to each new member: This provides a familiar face and someone to answer questions and also creates a sense of belonging which is critical to retention.

Civil Air Patrol - Minnesota Wing Headquarters
6275 Crossman Lane, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
Phone 651-291-0462   Fax: 651-552-7007
Directions to Wing HQ Facility

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