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Have a Chapter Open House!
By Brett Hahn, Chapter Manager
April 2016 - Recruiting new members is a common goal for many EAA chapters. All organizations, such as Rotary Clubs, churches, and civic groups, lose members every year and must reach out in order to sustain and grow.
A great option is to schedule a Chapter Open House and invite the public to stop by for refreshments and chat about airplanes, the chapter, and EAA. Think of it as a meet-and-greet, and you can schedule it in conjunction with your Young Eagles Rally!
Many chapters set up looping videos, have an airplane for show-and-tell, and offer coffee and pastries. It is a great way to meet the parents of your Young Eagles and share your passion and community with them.
Also, through the Chapter Trial Membership program, your chapter can give prospective members a free six-month EAA general membership trial, which includes the full set of benefits at no cost.
How does it work? After the chapter has identified individuals who have shown an interest in aviation, your chapter’s membership coordinator or a chapter representative visits www.eaa.org/chaptertrial and enters the prospect’s information to enroll him or her in the free trial membership. Newcomers will receive EAA Sport Aviation magazine, access to the members-only area of the website, and membership discounts on programs like EAA SportAir Workshops, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and more. This is a full EAA membership. Each prospect will receive all EAA member benefits during this time with no cost to your chapter.
We encourage chapters also to grant a six-month complimentary chapter membership to potential members before they commit to paying dues. This allows them to get to know you and experience membership benefits in EAA.
This complimentary six-month period will help you build a bond between prospective members and your chapter, resulting in a higher member recruitment and retention rate. There’s no limit on recruits.
- Use this as a tool to build your local membership base.
- Reach out beyond the “usual” crowd around the airport. Try churches, other clubs, and co-workers to connect with people unaware of your chapter; people just need to be asked.
- Position the membership as compliments of your chapter, not EAA Headquarters.
- Actively engage the new member during the trial period.
- Call, e-mail, and invite prospects to every event during these six months, letting them know the schedule.
- Assign each prospect a mentor to answer questions and give advice.
- Involve less-active members in the recruiting process.
- Use trial memberships as door prizes or giveaways. Engage a recruit, assess his or her interest, and then provide the membership. The goal is to build a bond between the prospective member and your chapter.
- Charge for a trial membership, even at a reduced rate.
- Expect a new chapter member to understand everything about aviation and EAA. Longtime members can forget what it was like when they first got involved in aviation, EAA, and a chapter.
Above all, help this person feel welcome! I speak from experience—chapters can change a person’s life.