November 28, 2013   by
How to Make New Chama Members Feel Welcome

How to Make New Chama Members Feel Welcome

New Chama members represent an important group for two reasons. At the beginning is the best opportunity to lay the foundation for long-term loyalty and the time that most members are likely to leave because the passive members will have a perception of little value. So you need to develop a range of engaging strategies and tactics to ensure that their expectations are fulfilled, otherwise you might loose them. So what steps can you make to new members feel welcome and involved in the Chama?

A good approach would be to introduce an ‘orientation’ program into your club membership development plan, one that sets out an agreed schedule of contact which gives new members guidance on how to meet their initial expectations and achieve a sense of value. Alternatively you could simply look at a list of welcoming ideas and try out those you feel would suit your Chama.

In this article we will cover both approaches. A good approach to orientation is having a systematic approach to making new members feel welcome using a schedule of contact will ensure consistency and momentum. The schedule should be a carefully planned, timely and relevant flow of materials and invitations, blended with conversations with the Chama leader and other Chama members to educate and involve them quickly. This could be managed well. Here is a sample five step schedule of contact:

Step 1: Acknowledge receipt of their membership within a day. Send them an email or thank you note to welcome them. Let them know what is happening next. This sets the tone for your relationship and makes you look highly responsive to members.

Step 2: Send them a welcome pack. There are many things you could include, so be careful not to overwhelm them. You can send them information about your Chama, what its vision is, goals, the current members and the way forward. You can do this electronically on email or you could have something printed and have it delivered to them.

Step 3: After they have had chance to look over the pack, the Chama leader should telephone them and personally welcome them. Also:

  • Check their name details are correct because there is nothing more annoying that having your name incorrect.
  • Identify what they expect. Why did they join? It is important to recognise what type of member they are in order to understand what they will value from the Chama.
  • You also need to check their perceptions are correct regarding what they expect out of the Chama and adjust any misunderstandings early on.

Welcome them

When a new member attends their first Chama meeting, be there to welcome the new member on her first Chama meeting, especially if you recruited her. Many Chama leaders leave new members at the mercy of other Chama members on their first day, which can be intimidating and often confusing. Although spending time with the other Chama members is inevitable, you can schedule time at the end of the meeting to meet with the new member and answer any questions she may have.

Have a seat ready for the new member. Do not leave the new memberto fend for herself and waste time looking for a place to seat during the meeting. Make sure her seat is set up , a pen and writing pad in place ready to go.

Introduce your new member to the Chama. Although you can gather everyone and do a group introduction, casual introductions to Chama members on an individual basis will feel less intimidating. Make arrangements for one or more of the Chama members to take the new member to tea to help her become further acquainted, and give her a chance to ask questions out of earshot of the Chama leader.

Make sure the new employee understands the Chama’s rules. Every Chama has written rules and educating the new members on what they are can save her some embarrassment.

Include the new member in Chama events from day one, whether it is a monthly Chama meeting, cake for someone’s birthday or the Chama retreat. There is nothing more annoying for a new member than to be excluded from the group, even if it is unintentionally.

Set goals for the member right away, no matter how trivial the tasks may seem. Assigning projects for the new member helps to reduce anxiety, engage her in the Chama and make her feel useful and needed.


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