Finding the member wannabe!

William A. Verkest, P.E.
Director of Engineering Services (retired)
City of Arlington, TX
APWA Membership Committee Chair, 2001-2002

As a professional association, we are always looking for ways to attract new members. And, without a doubt, this can be a daunting exercise.

But the truth is, there are people out there who would like to be members of APWA, but are either waiting to be “asked” or do not know where to go to get membership information.

Some of these potential members may be very close to you—as close as your chapter and branch meetings. Across the United States and Canada, there are people who attend APWA chapter and branch functions who are not members of APWA. They may even believe they are members of “their” chapter or branch. However, they are not! There is no category of APWA membership that is chapter or branch level only. APWA membership requires being a member at the national level, with chapter and branch membership included.

What to do? These “non-member members” obviously see some benefit in the chapter or branch functions, or they would not be attending and participating. So let’s encourage them to stay involved!

Consider them “wannabes,” and encourage them to join APWA. Talk to them about the benefits of membership and its low annual membership fee. Talk to them about what they are missing by not being a member. Talk about individual, agency and corporate membership opportunities. Talk about national programs. Talk about networking (only members have access to our InfoNOW Communities, for instance) and career development opportunities.

Ask them what they like about the chapter and/or branch functions. Ask them what they would like to see at these functions. Ask them what it would take to get them to join APWA.

And respond! Show interest in them as individuals. Explain why you are a member. Explain why you would like to see them as a member, not just a visitor. Finally, help them in completing the application process.

“Wannabes” are and can be a tremendous resource. In all likelihood, they are contributing to the success of your chapter or branch right now. Let’s work to get them on board as “real” members of APWA and fully use their talents to build a stronger and better APWA at the national, chapter and branch levels.

Helpful recruiting tools available from the APWA national office include:

  • A Prospect Packet which includes a Membership brochure (abbreviated and full-size versions available), Membership application, application return envelope, current Publications and Resources Catalog, information about ordering APWA mailing lists, a coupon for 20 percent discount off first order from Publications and Resources Catalog, a reply card for requesting more info, a cover letter from the APWA President, and a Chapter Information Sheet.

  • Business Card Wraps are just the right size to wrap around your business card and contain a brief description of APWA/CPWA, membership types and dues, and the toll-free 800 number for headquarters; these are designed as a small handout from members to prospects.

  • Public Policy Advocacy brochures briefly describe the activities of the Washington, D.C. office, the Government Affairs section of the website, the APWA Legislative Advocacy Task Force, Advocacy Resource Guides, and how APWA members can support these activities.

  • The Guide to Membership Benefits is a newsletter that is distributed to members when they join and renew; it is updated periodically and includes brief articles about APWA projects, benefits, new items or publications, educational activities, and key contacts.
Contact Rhonda Wilhite or Patty Mahan in the Member Relations Department at 800-848-APWA to request any of these materials.

We are your partners in the success of APWA!

Bill Verkest, a member of APWA’s Board of Directors, can be reached at