Preparations for America's 250th Birthday in 2026

Written by: Ann Dillon, President General
November 9, 2016

The United States stands on the eve of a grand celebration – and DAR is preparing to celebrate in a big way! In just ten years, America will commemorate its 250th birthday. Already, the U.S. Congress has established the United States Semiquincentennial Commission to begin planning for the nation's anniversary. The nonprofit organization USA250 has also been created to organize, advocate, promote and coordinate celebration planning for the 250th anniversary and we are excited to be building a relationship with them. I am pleased to report that the National Society has now established its own America 250! Committee to plan and execute our participation in this national celebration. I am also delighted to announce that Honorary President General Lynn Forney Young has agreed to chair this special committee.

We believe that DAR must mount a vibrant and visible participation in this nationwide observance, which offers the most ideal platform in generations to both demonstrate our relevancy and attract new members to our important work. We consider this a long-term, strategic opportunity that will offer us the potential to 1) strengthen our chapters/states, 2) provide substantive civic involvement (with resulting public relations benefit) and 3) increase membership to record heights. As a result, we consider this a 15-year initiative, composed of two distinct phases:

Phase I – Internal Readiness, 2016 – 2023

- Develop theme, logo/brand, preparation of campaign promotional materials

- Build strategic partnerships with allied organizations

- Consider the potential for a substantive “Gift to the Nation”

- Bolster  online resources to accommodate increased internet demand for membership information

- Enhance organizational procedures and technology to assist chapters and states in attracting and managing prospective members as well as integrating new members more efficiently

- Strategically organize new chapters in rising population centers

- Communicate the need for chapters and states to identify meaningful civic projects related to the men and women who achieved American independence

- And more!

Phase II – External Observances, 2023 – 2033

It is our goal to celebrate the 250th anniversary of all events associated with our nation’s successful quest for independence. We have set our parameters from the Boston Tea Party of 1773 (i.e. 2023) through the Treaty of Paris in 1783 (i.e. 2033).          

At this time, there is no need for states or chapters to appoint chairs of this new committee, which is just beginning to chart our course for Phase I.

America’s 250th anniversary affords each of us the chance to be a part of history, as we celebrate the most exhilarating patriotic observance of our lifetimes. As a result, we have set an ambitious membership target. You may know that our roster peaked following the U.S. Bicentennial, at 209,000. Membership declined to 164,000 by 2009, before beginning to rebound. The National Society now includes more than 185,000 paid members – about 12 percent higher than 2009…but still about 12 percent below the peak of 1977.  How high can we go, propelled by the momentum of our nation’s 250th birthday?

Working together, harnessing new technology and empowered by the work of committed members and dynamic chapters, we have set an ambitious membership goal of 250,000 by 2033. This represents an addition of about 65,000 Daughters, or an approximate 35-percent increase in total membership during the next 15 years. Difficult and ambitious? Yes, but achievable if chapters achieve the goal of a 10-percent net gain in membership each year. Recognizing that we grew by 12 percent in the last seven years, we believe that this is attainable. We also know that our members RISE to every challenge presented to them – with a long planning horizon, this ambitious target is achievable if we together commit ourselves to making it a reality during the course of the next 15 years.

We hope that you are equally excited about this opportunity! The official celebrations begin this month at a Toast250 dinner in Philadelphia hosted by USA250’s Board of Directors, where DAR is an official sponsor.  Daughters who would like to attend the celebratory event should visit http://www.usa250.org/donate/toast250/ for more information. We welcome your enthusiasm and your devotion to DAR as we maximize the potential for this celebration! 

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