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Grow Your Local Chapter with Chapter Trial Membership

By Barry Elk, Director of Membership Marketing

A question asked during every Chapter Leaders Academy is “How do we grow our local chapter?” Based on YOUR input, we have recently unveiled a useful new tool, which will make recruiting members into your local chapter much easier. The new program - Chapter Complimentary Trial Membership - was unveiled in the recent “meeting in a box” DVD. This trial membership will allow you to recruit new members into your chapter without them having to immediately pay dues to EAA headquarters.

I wanted to take just a moment to hit the highlights and start you thinking about how you can use this tool. This membership entitles the recruit to all the benefits and privileges of EAA membership, including a monthly copy of EAA Sport Aviation or EAA Sport Pilot, as well as the ability to participate in ALL EAA activities at the local level and beyond. This includes participating as a Young Eagle pilot or involvement in another chapter’s activities. It also includes member discounts during AirVenture. In short, trial members are full-fledged EAA members AT NO COST to them or to your chapter for their first six months. (We encourage you to waive local dues as well, but that’s up to you.)

Start thinking of all of the opportunities to invite those people who seem interested but may be intimidated by dues, or perhaps those who were not formally asked to join because of the “…and it will cost…” statement. Maybe it’s that co-worker who you talk to at lunch about your flying and chapter activities. Or perhaps that curious parent who is waiting, while their child experiences the thrill and enjoyment of their Young Eagle flight. Or that person who is always “around” but has never joined. Ask and give freely this wonderful opportunity to learn more about your chapter and EAA.

Within days of this program’s launch, I can happily say that three chapters have already “run with it.” EAA 1252 in northeast Ohio has eight new recruits; EAA 226 in the Heart of Indiana with six; and EAA 384 at central Michigan’s Friendliest Pilot-owned Airport with five. Keep up the good work, folks!

I suggest that you discuss at your next meeting or event some specific ways that you are going to try and recruit new members with this tool. Will it be a focused effort at your next public event or just a challenge to your existing members to each bring a new member to the next meeting? That is for you to decide - but try something and PLEASE - share your success stories so that we can publish them here in the coming months for others to learn and take inspiration from.

How do you do it? Simply get a prospective member’s contact info (name, address, phone, e-mail). Then go to www.eaa.org/chaptertrial and enter that information along with your own (recruiter’s name, EAA number and chapter number). That’s it. You and the recruit will both be notified by e-mail within 48 hours that the membership is active. Membership cards will be mailed to new recruits within a couple of weeks.

We will soon have an easy-to-print form available for download at the same link. Print out a few copies and keep them handy. Simply fill in the blanks with pen or pencil and then go back to the online form at your convenience. No forms to order, no postage, no waiting “until we have enough to send.”

As always, I’m happy to answer your questions, hear your suggestions and concerns, or just chat about the tools and techniques of growing your membership.

Clear Skies and Good Hunting (for recruits that is!),

belk@eaa.org, or 800-564-6322, and ask to be transferred to me

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