Search form

Section 17. Establishing and Maintaining a Membership Program

Tool # 1: A sample membership letter.

Dear [Potential Member],

"For the first time in my life, I feel like a real person. I know what I can do now." -- Francis

"Learning has become really important for me. And my kids see that, and they're doing better in school now, because they understand it's important. Mom's going to school, it must be important." -- Jacquie

"...and I voted for President for the first time this year. I read the newspapers, and I understood what both of them were saying, and I decided who I wanted to vote for. I could actually read about politics and understand it. And it was interesting !" -- Nancy

These are quotes from learners at Reading, Inc., an award-winning adult literacy provider serving Washington County. They, and the more than 300 others who took classes from us in reading, writing, math, and GED (high school equivalency) preparation in the past year, were able to accomplish things they thought were beyond them. By offering them not only educational services, but the opportunity to take charge of their own learning and look at themselves differently, we help learners understand how to take control of their lives. Many earn their GEDs and go on to higher education or to better and more fulfilling work. Nearly all gain skills and an increased respect for their own abilities that they'll carry for the rest of their lives.

We're asking you to join us in this work. Become a member of Reading, Inc. for the next year, and help to make adult illiteracy a thing of the past in Washington County. For your membership of $25.00 or more, you'll receive a quarterly newsletter, an invitation for you and your family to our annual barbecue (Jimmy's famous ribs get better each year!), and the knowledge that you're part of the difference for Francis and Jacquie and Nancy and hundreds of others like them.

Nearly half of the over 19,000 adults in Washington County who lack high school diplomas are unable to read the safety instructions on a medicine bottle or figure their change at the supermarket. As a result, many are un- or underemployed, constantly subject to layoffs, unable or afraid to move up. Furthermore, it's likely that their children will follow in their footsteps: the most powerful statistic we have about literacy is that children's literacy is dependent on that of their primary caregivers, usually their mothers.

Literacy is a core issue. Lack of basic skills is one of the roots of many societal problems, including hunger, homelessness, and crime (about 80% of those incarcerated lack high school diplomas). At Reading, Inc., we're trying to tackle these problems one learner at a time.

Your contribution will help us to pay for what our state funding doesn't cover : rent, most of our administrative and clerical salaries, a computer for our bookkeeper. We're a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and your membership is completely tax -deductible.

As a community-based organization, Reading, Inc. has always depended on partnership with community members like you. Thank you for your support, and for your recognition of the importance of eliminating adult illiteracy.



Please detach and return this portion of the letter with your membership.

Yes! I want to become a member of Reading, Inc. I'm enclosing my check or money order, made out to Reading, Inc., for

$25.00____ $50.00____ $100.00____ Other amount____________



Phone___________________ Fax_________________ E-mail: ______________

I'm interested in becoming more involved in Reading, Inc. Please contact me about :

____Learning more about what I can do


____Becoming a Board member

____Making a tax-deductible donation of goods or services



Tool #2: A sample thank-you letter.

Dear [Member's name],

We're delighted to welcome you as a member of Reading, Inc. for 2001. Thank you for helping to support the efforts of the more than 300 learners we serve every year .

Your membership contribution is very important to us, because we can use it to pay for whatever we need. Our state funding comes with many strings attached, and we can't use it for many of our expenses: rent, for instance, or most of our administrative and clerical salaries. We depend for operating funds on the support of community members like you. This year, your contribution may help us buy our own copier (we spend hundreds of dollars and countless hours a year having learner readings and office documents copied commercially), may help (finally!) to finance that computer for the bookkeeper, and will, as always, assure that we can keep our space.

Please feel free, as a member, to contact Reading, Inc. with any questions, ideas, or concerns you have, or about getting more involved in our work. There are opportunities to volunteer in the classroom or the office, to join the Board of Directors, to work on specific projects, or to donate goods or services. If you'd like information about these possibilities or anything else, please call or e-mail [name of contact person ] at [phone and e-mail], and she'll be glad to talk to you.

We're enclosing the latest edition of our newsletter, which includes some stories and comments from learners, as well as a description of the Distinguished Teaching Award won by staff member Elaine Marshall. You'll be getting three more newsletters and occasional collections of student writing over the course of the year. You're also cordially invited to our annual barbecue, to be held this year at Jefferson Park in Bigelow on June 9 (rain date June 10) starting at 1:00 p.m.

Welcome to the Reading, Inc. family. We hope you'll take advantage of your membership to become more familiar with the organization, and perhaps to join us in our work. Thanks again for your help and support. Without folks like you, who care about the community, we couldn't do what we do.