28 Nov How to Increase Your Club’s Participation
People are sometimes hard to motivate. If you’re a leader or member of a club or organization that’s seeing waning interest in specific programs or perhaps diminishing participation in activities overall, you’re probably looking for ways to give your organization a boost.
After all, as current member interest fades, chances are likely that your overall membership numbers will decline – and garnering new members will also prove difficult. Soon, the very existence of your club will be in jeopardy.
Here are some strategies to help increase the number of participants in your club, and ways to encourage those participants to show up with greater regularity.
Advertise and Promote
The first and easiest way to grow your membership is by advertising. This doesn’t mean you have to plunk down a lot of cash for buying ads. There are many ways to advertise that don’t cost much or anything at all.
Website – In almost any club, there is someone with the capability of creating the website. If not directly, perhaps a member has a technical kid who can help build a website. Today, so many tools and options are available that nearly anyone can build a simple page. No matter who is building the site, ensure it has the name of the club is prominently featured on the home page (and elsewhere) and that a contact form or email address are easily found; “about the club” information is also highly recommended.
Real contact information – Be sure that one member or club officer is willing to field questions and become the official contact person. This real person – rather than using a standard contact-form template — can help make the club far more inviting, will calm fears of the unknown, and provide people with someone that they can identify on their first visit. It’s far easier to approach an unfamiliar group when even a small amount of “background information” has been established in advance.
A variety of channels – Some people are bold enough to take the initiative, look up your information and then actively seek your club. But other quality prospects more on the passive side may indeed have interest, but won’t actively seek you out. Having signs, flyers and other advertisements clearly visible through a variety of different channels will help your club get on that person’s radar.
Local opportunities – You should be able to find a range of ways to promote your club and its activities through local and regional websites and other media, and typically these are free (or offered at minimal cost). Check out the “calendar” sections on local community newspaper sites, as well as the “community” section on your local Craigslist site. If your club has a specific niche – such as painting or a particular industry focus – see if related publications or websites offer free club notes.
Coach and Encourage Current Members
The very best advertising is word-of-mouth, and the most readily available cheerleaders for your group are your current members. Make sure you continually coach your current membership that they should care about the future of the club by cultivating new members. Some clubs even require current members to bring in a certain number of new members per year.
Clear description – Provide your current members with clear descriptions about the mission and purpose of the group. Rehearsing an elevator speech — or short description that can be shared in a couple sentences — may seem silly, but it’s an effective way to equip members to spread excitement about the group.
Commitment to participation – After promoting the club, the next greatest contribution members can make toward future growth is committing to show up and participate with enthusiasm. Encourage members to arrive early. Potential new members tend to arrive early, and welcoming them prior to the official start of the meeting gives them a gentle opportunity to get introduced with little fear of stage fright or embarrassment.
Comfortable welcome – During the meeting itself, make sure that you do not embarrass new members by expecting them to participate. Well-coached current club members should comfortably introduce themselves to unfamiliar faces. Make sure everyone knows how important it is to make visitors feel welcome and comfortable.
Create a Sense of Ownership
New things can make people uncomfortable – it’s just human nature. It isn’t easy to encourage a group to actively seek out unpredictable new influences such as new members. Make sure that your current members understand that for the club to remain healthy and active, it needs to grow.
Friendly diversity – Not everyone can be a carbon copy of the current membership. Pleasant and fun people who can unify under the shared objectives of the club might have other diverse views and backgrounds. Different ideas and perspectives can prove to be a benefit, enriching the experience of the whole group. Just make sure the club’s purpose is clearly defined.
Protect your club –Just like you wouldn’t recruit an unpleasant acquaintance to work in your office, you shouldn’t invite “crazy” into your club. A bad new member could drive many people away. Nor is it wise to invite people you know would try to hijack and wrench control away from the club’s purpose.
Clubs can change – The club can evolve to suit the changing needs of its members. It can steer, over time, to where it needs to go. Keep in mind that the club belongs to the members and that no two clubs are exactly alike.
Keep it Fun and Easy to Engage
The most important strategy when it comes to ensuring your club attracts new members is to make it easy to learn about your group in the first place. Then, get them to attend a meeting or two – make sure you impress potential members with a fun experience and one that caters to their interests and needs. Do this, and they’ll likely return and eventually join your club!
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