Where Can Your Chapter Find New Members?
It is a forgone conclusion that most Chapters are looking for new Members. In the pre-workshop surveys conducted at the Chapter Leadership Workshops, Chapter Leaders answered the question, "What does your Chapter need most" with the following top three answers: more Members, more active Members, and more young Members. Obviously Chapters are looking for more Members.
Ask yourself two questions. First, why did you join your Chapter? Most new Members join their local Chapter to learn about things related to airplanes; building, restoring, owning, flying, etc. In addition, many people join local Chapters because they are invited or they hear about a how much fun a Chapter is having. However, this isn't always true for all Chapters. Another question to ask yourself is, if you didn't already belong to your Chapter, would you join today? If not, why not? If yes, why? Answers to these questions may help your Chapter figure out what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong.
Many Chapters say they want more Members, but they are really inward looking. They don't promote themselves, they aren't always having fun, and they may not be providing much value to their current members. Once they solve these issues, how do they find new Members? If a Chapter is having fun and providing value, the word will get around and the Chapter will pick up some new Members, not just because they are having fun, but also on the strength of its reputation, but this can be easily improved upon. Here are some suggestions for finding and recruiting new Members for your Chapter, and for EAA.
First, contact the Chapter Office and get a list of EAA Members in your area. Regardless of how good your Chapter is and how much fun your Chapter is having, the word doesn't always reach everyone. Your Chapter can get a list of EAA Members by zip code and use this list to get in touch with EAA Members that don't belong to your Chapter. Next take some post cards, or better yet, use extra copies of your Chapter Newsletter, and invite these EAA Members to come to your next Chapter get-together. This is a proven way to get more Chapter Members.
Second, if your Chapter is located near an airport or maybe more than one airport, and most Chapters are, contact the Airport Manager and ask if you may have a list of all the airport tenants. This is an excellent prospect list. After all, these people are airplane owners. Sure some may not be interested in building an airplane, but does that mean they wouldn't make good Chapter Members. One Chapter did this and they recruited a very wealthy airplane owner that ended up helping the Chapter get a Chapter clubhouse and hangar. Again, just because someone owns a Cessna or Piper doesn't mean they (including their family) wouldn't make great Chapter Members. Another great idea is to contact your State Aviation Department. Most State Aviation Departments will give you a list of airplane owners and pilots and some will even sort the list by zip code so your Chapter can zero in on the airplane owners and pilots near your Chapter.
Above all else, make sure your Chapter is an enjoyable and worthwhile place to be. Recruiting new members into a dull, inactive Chapter is wasted effort - they’ll soon find better ways to spend their valuable time. If your Chapter mixes the Chapter business meeting with the monthly program, separate these two activities. People are not going to enjoy sitting around waiting for the business meeting to end before the program starts. Also, make sure and have fun, which means bring FOOD. In most situations FOOD = FUN!
One last suggestion, or maybe it is just a reminder, for every new EAA Member your Chapter signs up your Chapter receives a $10 bonus, not to mention this also helps EAA grow. That's a win-win-win deal, your Chapter grows, EAA grows, and your Chapter treasury grows!
If your Chapter expands on these suggestions, or if your Chapter has some better ideas on how to get more Chapter Members, please pass these ideas back to the Chapter Office so they can be shared with the entire Chapter Family.
KEEP THE SPIRIT!