The function of the Membership Committee includes "the recruitment of new members and subscribers, the retention of existing members and subscribers, and the review and recommendation to the Executive Council of membership policies and practices."
In the past, the Membership Committee has taken responsibility for mailings to solicit new members, particularly using lists from other societies that involve the sociology of religion directly or indirectly. In general, the more select the list, the better the results. There was also an annual effort to have members of the Committee contact personally individuals who had let their memberships lapse in the previous year and encourage them to reconsider and renew.
To a large extent membership activities actually now take place through the Executive Office, where mailings are coordinated and the Web site is maintained, hence the role of the Membership Committee has largely focused on membership retention through the Annual Meeting--targeting one or a combination of: first time attendees, students, attendees from abroad. This effort has usually been in connection with one or more food functions, for which support must be found outside the regular meeting budget. The basis for these efforts has been that we know that we gain membership through the annual meeting (people who want to be on the program join because of our requirement), but we also lose many of these people the next year. The various efforts that have been made have been intended to work to create a meeting environment that encourages members to return.