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Growing Chapter Membership – Part 2
By Serena Kamps, EAA Lifetime 1011028
May 2022 – In this article series we will be looking at the best practices we see the most successful chapters consistently engaging in.
In Growing Chapter Membership – Part 1 published in last month’s ChapterGram, we covered the following points:
- Provide Targeted, Valuable Content
- Missionize Your Chapter
- Come up with a Plan and Goals
- Get Active and Promote
Let’s continue with the final three.
5. Continue the Conversation with Prospects
Whether it’s at a public event you’ve spent months planning and preparing for or at your chapter monthly gathering, you’ve successfully drawn in some new faces. Now what? Remember that first impressions are important! Make sure that to the very best of your ability everyone is greeted and welcomed with a smile. Having a designated chapter greeter is a wonderful idea. This person’s sole job is to make sure everyone who walks in the door is welcomed, provided with a nametag, and possibly connected to someone else in the chapter with similar interests. Be sure to collect contact info so you can let each person know about upcoming events.
After the event, consider following up with a thank-you note or email. This is a simple gesture that will make a huge impact. You can remind them how to join your chapter but if someone shows up a second or third time, consider signing them up for a free six-month trial EAA membership paired with a six month free chapter membership.
When considering first impressions, don’t forget their importance in everyday operations like responding to emails and phone calls either! There is nothing more frustrating to a potential new member than reaching out to your chapter multiple times via phone or email with no response whatsoever and few things will turn them off faster. Make sure your chapter information both on your website and the find-a-chapter webpage on the EAA website is correct. You want there to be as few barriers to someone attending a chapter gathering or event as possible. Consistently meeting in the same place at the same time each month will be helpful. Listing “TBD” for your meeting information does nothing to help a prospective new member find your chapter and attend a gathering. Even “contact president” is not the best solution as it creates an additional hurdle for a prospective member to cross in order to be present at your gathering.
6. New Member Onboarding
Once you have a new member, onboarding is an important process. Onboarding is defined as “the action or process of integrating a new employee into an organization or familiarizing a new customer or client with one's products or services.” This is where you’ll double check that the new member is on email lists for the newsletter, chapter updates, etc. so they can stay up-to-date on all chapter happenings. Another key part of onboarding is to get new members involved and taking ownership, even if it’s in a small area. Whether it’s bringing a dish to pass at the next meeting, or volunteering for set-up or clean-up at a chapter event, give your new members a way to engage.
7. Retain Your Members
Equally as important as recruiting new members is retaining your current members. Declining chapter membership is a sure sign that something is not right and a fix is needed but it’s not always easy to catch. Staying on top of this data is key. Keep track of your membership numbers year-to-year by leveraging the EAA Chapter Roster Management System. At a glance, you’ll be able to see how many current, expired, and new members you have. Reach out early to members that have not renewed and remind them of the benefits of being a chapter member. Consider offering multi-year membership discounts. For instance, if your chapter offers a $20 single-year membership, you might offer a three-year membership for $50.
Regularly evaluate the interests of your members through surveys and understand that these interests will change as the membership changes. Evaluate your meeting time and location. Is it convenient for the majority of your members? Be willing to change if needed. Plan chapter programs and activities that will provide year-round value to your membership. Getting to know your membership is critical. Sound like a lot? Remember that in a world that is crowded with activities and so many competing demands on time, you must do something to make your chapter stand out. What value does your chapter provide to its members? What sets it apart? This is the question that must always be top of mind.
Plans for membership recruitment and retention should be key parts of your chapter strategic plan. Set a goal and plan a way to achieve it. Remember, if your chapter isn’t growing, it’s dying. Always have a growth mindset and you’ll avoid the slippery slope of declining chapter membership. A strong and growing chapter membership is a huge part of having a strong chapter. Is your chapter struggling? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help!