Team Members: Eli Wallace and Jason Whitman
Faculty Advisor: Chris Hoeting
QL+ Program Manager: Amber Humphrey
QL+ students from Xavier University worked on the VFW Recruitment Challenge. The members of VFW Post 10380, in Green Township, Cincinnati, Ohio live their Mission: to serve Veterans, the military, and our communities. They hold meetings every third Thursday of the month. Post Commander Mike Donnelly runs a tight ship: the meetings start promptly at 7:30 PM and end at 8:30 PM. In that hour, Post business is conducted and plans are made. Like many VFW’s and other Veteran Service Organizations, this Post struggles to recruit younger members to ensure the future of the group.
QL+ and VFW Post 10380 challenged these students with the mission of generating membership commitments of younger Veterans between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. The Post Commander, Mike Donnelly, was hopeful that they could get 3-4 new members by the end of this Challenge.
The students looked at the social media platforms currently in use by VFW Post 10380 as well as their website. They decided to give both their website and social media platforms an overhaul and give them a more consistent look. They also felt that the website could be easier to navigate and contain newer information.
The students wanted to help VFW 10380 increase engagement on their social media in order to attract young Veterans interested in joining a VFW. They did research on how, and when to post on social media. They also generated content for the VFW to use in future social media postings. They worked with Senior members of the Post to create a “Who we are” video for their website, as well as information handouts to be passed out at their events throughout the community. They also created video clips for the VFW's yearly events. These clips can be used to advertise the events on their social media platforms. The students also attended many VFW events and took high-resolution photos for the Post to use on the website, social media platforms, and printed marketing materials.
They surveyed students at the Xavier Student Veterans Center. They discovered that the younger Veterans aligned with the following:
● they are not as religious as one would assume
● they prefer NOT to talk about war
● they thought of the VFW as a place to get cheap beer
● they joined the military due to prior family service or intent to use GI Bill
● they felt that war ages people faster
● they are interested in donating blood
● they are interested in donating their time to help children or animals
● they prefer to work out alone via activities such as cycling, yoga, CrossFit, running
Most VFW Posts are a place for its members to socialize. Often, a Post will own the building where they hold meetings and that building will often have a bar. VFW 10380 does not own any property. They lease the space where their meetings are held. The members are served food and drink during the meetings but there is a strict two-beer limit. This Post's meetings are all about getting work done and their main goal is to help other Veterans in any way that they can. They help Veterans navigate the VA system and their benefits, help them find employment, and even help Veterans with personal struggles. The mission of this VFW should resonate well with what the students learned from the student Veteran survey. This information was passed on to the VFW as well as ideas on various service-oriented events that would attract younger Veterans.
The students connected with Jonathan Gibson and the Graphic Design students at Xavier to design and create flyers for upcoming events that could be used both in social media as well as for printed marketing materials. The Graphic Design students also created a new cover image for the VFW’s Facebook page and website. The QL+ students updated the profile image for all the VFW's social media platforms—offering a more consistent and professional look.
After they gave the social media platforms a new and consistent look, they worked with the Post Commander to teach him how to boost social media posts. They decided that boosting posts would generate new ‘likes’ and followers on the Post’s Facebook page.
Lastly, through research, they discovered the most appropriate times to post/boost posts on both Instagram and Facebook and passed that information along to the appropriate members of Post 10380. This information can help users reach higher and more consistent engagement on their social media platforms.
At the conclusion of this Challenger, Post Commander Mike Donnelly reported that VFW Post 10380 gained five new members since the start of this project.