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Growing Chapter Membership – Part 1

By Serena Kamps, EAA Lifetime 1011028

April 2022In this article series we will be looking at the best practices we consistently see from our most successful chapters.

Did you know that EAA currently has more than 255,000 members, only about 37,000 of which are members of chapters? This means that every single chapter has HUGE opportunity for growth without needing to recruit one additional EAA member! So many EAA members are out there who don’t even know what they are missing by not being part of a chapter. All they need is someone like you to introduce them to their local chapter and all the good things they are doing for aviation in your community. What are some practical ways to do this? How can you draw these folks in and keep them coming back? How do you keep your current members interested and engaged? In this two-part article we’ll discuss some specific answers to these questions.

  1. Provide Targeted, Valuable Content
    What would draw the attention and interest of the people around you at the airport? How about the community at large? What are your current members interested in? Don’t know? Find out by surveying them! Recognize that interests change with the membership, so flexibility is important. Your goal should be to bring together as broad an audience around aviation as possible. Diversity of interests is a good thing for your chapter and will attract a broader audience as well. Whether a person has never been in an airplane or whether they have 10,000 flight hours, whether they’re interested in aviation history, homebuilding, flying Young Eagles, etc., everyone can unite around one thing — love for aviation. Have programming that appeals to a wide range of interests. Let all know that they are welcome and that you have something for them.

  2. Missionize Your Chapter
    A mission is an action-based statement that declares the purpose of an organization and how they serve their customers. Your mission gives your chapter a sense of purpose and will drive many of your decisions. EAA’s mission is to “grow participation in aviation by promoting The Spirit of Aviation.” While your chapter mission should align with the EAA mission, you’ll want to come up with your own that best describes what your chapter has to offer. Think about what your chapter can provide to the local aviation community. Is it youth outreach? Homebuilding assistance? Aviation safety training? Access to the airport and aviation exposure for the local community? Once you’ve determined that, you have what you need to create your own mission. Having a broad mission or multiple missions is okay. Just keep them concise and to the point.

  3. Come Up With a Plan and Goals
    Now that you have your mission, you’ll need to come up with a plan and create goals to accomplish it. The chapter flight plan is a great resource. Use this template to determine objectives, identify tasks necessary to reach the objective, quantify measurable goals, set a timeline for completion, and assign a person or two to be the lead. Is your objective to increase chapter visibility in your area? Tasks related to this could be to advertise chapter events using resources from EAA (i.e. ChapterBlasts, Calendar of Events), and reaching out to local media outlets. Goals are to create chapter awareness off the airport and to grow membership. Timeline could be a three-month period or whatever the chapter decides.

  4. Get Active and Promote
    Activity in the chapter is the best way to keep current members engaged and to draw in new members. Plan an event and then promote, promote, promote! Don’t underestimate the power of a personal invite. A couple things to keep in mind as you get the word out:
    • A call to action is important. Make sure you always provide complete information when inviting folks to your chapter events — who, what, when, where, and why. Don’t assume the public already knows the chapter exists. Is your event a fundraiser? Make sure you let your attendees know what their dollars will support.
    • Leverage EAA resources like ChapterBlast emails, the event calendar, and customizable posters. Don’t keep your chapter a secret! Make sure everyone knows they are invited!
    • Be prepared to welcome guests. Have membership forms ready. Make sure they know about upcoming events. Have follow-up activities planned to give them a reason to return. Handouts with information about these are great!

We’ll pick up next month with a few more tips on growing chapter membership.

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