A Banner Month in the Office of the Registrar General

Written by: Sharon Withers, Registrar General
November 17, 2015

“You’ve Got Mail!”  the title of a popular 1998 movie was also the theme of the Office of the Registrar General during the month of October.  In the movie version, the title refers to e-mail but in Data Entry, it refers to postal mail, specifically large envelopes containing new member applications, arriving in unprecedented numbers! 

In commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the founding of DAR, all new members with applications verified in 2015 receive a special membership certificate imprinted with the Celebrate 125! logo.   The allure of this special membership certificate has proven to be quite strong and, as the October 15 suggested deadline for submission loomed closer, the number of applications exponentially increased.  The usual one and a half flats of processed applications (opened, scanned, and in folders for the Genealogy Department) per day grew to five or more flats per day. Through it all, Lynda Carter, Assistant Director, R.G. Data Entry and the Data Entry staff remained unflappable though I’m sure they dreamed about envelopes at night!  As Registrar General, I’m so very proud of our hardworking, dedicated and professional staff in Data Entry. They are an essential part of our team.  It doesn’t happen in Genealogy until it happens in Data Entry!

Speaking of team effort, staff from other departments came in to help open and sort the torrent of applications; member volunteers came in to answer the phones, help correct potential pre-letters and assist Data Entry as needed.  The member volunteer effort worked well and we hope we can continue to have in-house volunteers.  Thank you to all who volunteered to manage the volumes of mail! 

How much mail was there?  This year from October 1 through October 15, an astonishing 1,776 new member applications were received-and that is not a managed number.  How serendipitous!  I believe our Founders, especially Miss Eugenia Washington, the first Registrar General, were smiling down upon us.  By the end of the day on October 30, Data Entry had received 2,515 new member applications!  This is the largest number of applications received in one month’s time, since we began keeping records of applications received by month.

That’s just part of the story.  On October 1, the Genealogy Department already had approximately 1,600 new member applications on hand to review before this October influx.  With the flood of new member applications coming in daily, Darryn Lickliter, Director of the Office of the Registrar General and Head of Genealogy, rapidly devised a plan for reviewing as many applications as possible by December 31.   With Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and scheduled vacations in the mix, Darryn really had to think outside the box!  Applications were categorized (triaged in my work world) and assigned according to the work schedule of the genealogists who review the particular categories.  Genealogists were pulled from working on supplemental applications and overtime was authorized.  Our genealogists verified 1,728 new member applications in October, an unprecedented number for one month.  On November 5, 1,728 women became members of our wonderful society.  I’m profoundly grateful to Darryn, Forrest Crosley, Assistant Director of Applications, and our amazing staff genealogists.  They know what to do with mail!

None of this would be possible without the hours and hours of hard work by our devoted chapter registrars, lineage researchers, volunteer genealogists, and membership promoters.  It’s not an easy job but it is a rewarding one.  We salute you for all you do each and every day.  You are the reason “We’ve Got Mail!”

We’ve had mail and now we have many new members.  The challenge ahead is to retain these members.  A study several years ago showed that for every three members gained, two were lost through resignation or non-payment of dues.  Think of how strong we would be and how much more good we could accomplish if we reversed this trend!  Does your chapter have a membership retention plan?  How do you make new members feel welcome? How do you educate them about the work of DAR and involve them in your chapter activities?  The study cited above revealed that if we can retain a new member for five years, she’s much more likely to remain a member.  Newer members leave DAR when they don’t feel a connection with their chapter and with the work of DAR.  Let’s make it our mission to retain our members so that we have more hands to carry on our important works of historic preservation, education and patriotism. For more information about retaining members visit the CDRC Committee page and the Membership Committee page.

Looking forward to 2016 and I hope the “You’ve Got Mail” theme of the Office of the Registrar General will continue into the new year!

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