Understanding P.E.O.’s Purpose Before Initiation

Chapter E, Charlotte, North Carolina, is a friendly chapter that likes to meet
new people. As a result, they typically initiate one or two new members each year. And as soon as the Invitation to Membership is in the mail, this 56 year-old chapter implements a process to ensure the women they initiate understand the purpose and requirements of P.E.O. before they become members. The process is called preacceptance counseling.

“The counseling really explains P.E.O.—the projects, the history and what to expect at initiation,” Chapter E’s immediate past president Karen Coma said of the counseling. “It helps prospective members see the big picture and understand what their commitment would be to our organization before they decide to join.”

Research shows that members who understand the organization’s values and mission before they join and become involved within three years, are more likely to remain active participants. That’s why preacceptance counseling is a required and important part of the membership process.

Who counsels

Following directions in the Procedure for P.E.O. Chapter Meeting, the president appoints a counseling committee to join her for the preacceptance counsel visit. Ideally, this visit occurs before the potential member responds to the invitation, so she can make an educated decision about P.E.O. membership.

In addition to the president, composition of the preacceptance counseling committee varies by chapter. Chapter E sends their president, a past chapter president and one of the sponsors to meet with the potential member.

The Counsel for Membership booklet recommends including chapter members who have sponsored the candidate or other members who are familiar with her. The membership committee chairman might like to come along as well.

Karen said preacceptance counseling was one of her favorite responsibilities as president. “I got to spend one-on-one time with some terrific women and hear the stories of how they came to be invited into our chapter.”

What we share

P.E.O. is a unique women’s organization, based on the principles of friendship and philanthropy and it’s important potential sisters are supportive of our values and mission.

The Counsel for Membership booklet’s detailed pull-out tab on preacceptance counseling is a great resource to consult before your visit. A hard copy of the booklet is filed with the president’s supplies. An electronic version is available in the Membership Tool Box on the members’ side of the P.E.O. website.

The booklet advises what information to take with you to the meeting, such as a copy of the P.E.O. Constitution, a current issue of The P.E.O. Record, a copy of your chapter yearbook, and literature on P.E.O. philanthropies. It also recommends what to talk about. Key points to cover include the Invitation to Membership and how to accept it, member responsibilities, and the purpose of P.E.O., as well as what to expect at the initiation ceremony.

Some chapters, such as Chapter E, develop their own handouts of key points to cover. When Karen realized her chapter’s handout needed updating, she logged onto the P.E.O. website to see if there were any materials she could use
instead. “Ordinarily I would have updated the handout myself, but I was a bit pressed for time and I thought surely the website would have something I could use.”

New materials in the online Membership Tool Box give chapters more flexibility in the way they conduct membership counseling. Karen chose the preacceptance PowerPoint presentation when talking with two prospective members about P.E.O. earlier this year. She downloaded the document from the Membership Tool Box to her iPad, so she could take it with her when she and two other members of Chapter E met with the two soon-to-be sisters.

“The online PowerPoint presentation was exactly what I needed,” Karen said. “The presentation is so thorough and it’s a cool, techie 21st century approach. It helped our two most recent initiates see the big picture. Both of them attend regularly and willingly sign up to help.”

Where to Find Counsel for Membership Materials

A variety of Counsel for Membership materials are available in the Membership Tool Box, depending upon the format and method of presentation you prefer. Log onto the P.E.O. website and go to the members' only section and choose the Membership Tool Box link under the . The following documents are available in the Counsel for Membership panel of the State, Provincial and District Local Chapter Membership Tool Box.

Counsel for Membership Booklet:

This electronic version of the printed booklet contained in the president’s supplies includes preacceptance and postinitiation counseling guidelines as well as suggestions for counseling nonparticipating, nonresident and inactive members, lateral transfers, and welcoming new members bytransfer or reinstatement. Black and white or color versions are available to download and print.

P.E.O. Academy–preacceptance:

This PowerPoint presentation expands upon the information included in the preacceptance section of the Counsel for Membership Booklet, including photos of the Founders, information about our history and philanthropies, and how to accept the invitation. Use the notes section to add pertinent chapter information. The presentation can be downloaded to any computer or other device, such as an iPad, or viewed directly from the P.E.O. website. It is available in color or black and white.

P.E.O. Academy–postinitiation:

Once the initiation has taken place, make plans to meet with your initiate for postinitation counseling. This PowerPoint presentation covers P.E.O. customs, what to expect at meetings, information about our emblem, special P.E.O. occasions, how to discuss P.E.O. with nonmembers, a brief introduction to our philanthropies and P.E.O. terminology. Like the preacceptance counseling Power- Point, it can be downloaded to any computer or other device, printed, or viewed directly from the P.E.O. website. It is available in color or black and white.

Inactives and Reinstatements: A Guide for the Local Chapter President:

Local chapter presidents may use this PowerPoint presentation to reach out to their inactive members and help them through the reinstatement process. It also gives tips on preparing the chapter for the return of a reinstated sister and appointing a mentor for her.

Inactives and Reinstatements: Roadmap to Reinstatement:

This PowerPoint helps chapter members identify why a sister chose inactive status and how to help her reinstate when she is ready. Inactives and

Reinstatements: Sample letter:

This customizable letter is appropriate for local chapters to send to their inactive members encouraging them to reinstate.

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