Chapter Growth Ideas
Things that work - - growing your chapter and retaining members
We polled chapter leaders for ideas of things that worked in terms of growing their membership and holding onto current members. (This article to appear permanently on the national website as more suggestions will be added over time; therefore, we have deleted specific names of individuals who have submitted these ideas, but sincerely thank them for their contribution.)
Here are their ideas you can use to grow your chapter and retain existing members:
Having a terrific golf schedule is probably most important. We had approximately 50 events this season. Typically, we had two events a weekend and occasional weekday play.
Another factor is our website. The first thing people see is our golf schedule--it really grabs their attention. (I don’t think other chapters have their schedule as the landing page.) Several of our new members found us through our website.
Third key is making sure the existing membership is delighted--word of mouth is very powerful. Many of our new members learned about us from existing members.
We’ve done other things such as the golf show, display stands, following up with non-renewals, etc. While these certainly helped, to me our success is more about the things listed above.
We do have a banner that we try to put up at each outing. We have been lucky to have local golf magazines run articles about our chapter. I believe the two articles earlier in the year brought in new membership and some of those new members brought in friends.
Palm Springs, CA
The local newspaper did a series of articles on senior dating. I was interviewed and played up the advantages of the singles golf chapter and got a good response. We also got an item published in the sports page which also generated some inquiries.
We advertise our weekly golf outings and monthly meeting in the local newspaper calendar. And have members from that.
Our chapter is sponsoring a charity golf tournament to benefit the local First Tee Program. We have flyers in all the golf shops, pro shops, etc. who are supporting our effort to do something for the kids of our community. We expect to receive positive publicity from this effort which we hope will not only benefit the local First Tee Program but bring in new members. We have already sent out press releases to local publications which had deadlines to ensure the articles are printed in Sept. and Oct. to promote our charity tournament.
We have posted our information on www.Craigslist.com
The local merchants that really didn't know much or anything about ASGA now do and think our chapter is terrific to do something to support the kids of the Valley...not just do events for our chapter.
The Villages, FL
Our largest magnet for new members is the existing members that are happy about all the club synergy. When I entered the club nearly three years ago we had just a couple golfing activities a month. Once this was increased we started to attract new members. We went from 2 outings per month plus a membership meeting to 13 or 14 outings per month along with a member meeting and a social night. And at least three times per month one of the outings is a Nine and Dine where we tee if the late afternoon and then finish at the course restaurant. And some of the time this facility has entertainment and dancing which is a further magnet.
To make sure we don't rely entirely on word of mouth from our members we also have a short article in the Daily Sun, a villages publication, that shows our near term activities and has contact names for anyone to call and/or email the officers for more information.
We also have an ad that runs continually on one of the information stations here in the villages.
The other item is that we have village post offices where we must go to pick up our mail. On some of the bulletin boards we have a flyer of how to contact us and what we are all about.
The true bottom line is the warmth and friendliness new people coming to a function feel. And this stems from a happy membership base. We will lose people for various reasons but I cannot recall anyone over the recent past that left because they were unhappy with us.
I know that I invite people to meetings but a lot of them think that because you are not a good golfer they would not fit in. Of course that is contrary to our motto "Fun, Fellowship and Fairways." A lot of our members are good golfers and as a result only want to play their own ball at chapter golf events. We do need to mix it up for those that are intimidated and think they can't play because of that. There should be more Captain's Choice and Shamble events to encourage those folks to come on out. I know we cannot please everyone. Our chapter usually offers both choices at chapter golf events. The problem is that not enough people that want to play Captain's Choice sign up and it ends up being play your own ball which keeps some away.
I believe the thing that has helped us retain members and get some new ones is our active members (maybe 20 of our 60) really promote our group to people they meet playing golf. If someone makes a good impression on a person, and they recommend a group, there is a good chance that person may be interested. We had about 80 members for a long time and have been pretty steady at about 60 for the last couple years. However, I really believe the group now may be a little more active. My golf events, which are once a month increased this summer to 28 to 32 players from about 20 in the past.
We have the ASGA brochures at many of the public courses, but most people tell us the found us on the internet. Another thing that helped this summer was our multi-chapter event with Seattle. We picked up at least 6 new members…that’s a 10% jump in membership.
From an Unknown Chapter
Besides MeetUp.com where we advertised, we all talk it up. We hang out a lot together besides golf and when people hear us laughing and having a good time they ask who we are and we tell them. We went zip lining last weekend. There were only 8 of us but 12 in the entire group. They asked what we did for fun and when we all said golf the sort of looked at us. We then told them we belonged to a singles golf group.
Several chapter leaders from Philadelphia responded to our request. Here is a compilation from Philly:
I think we are very fortunate as a chapter; our membership is up almost a plus 20 from the beginning of the year. There are several factors that I feel made this happen.
Our membership chairs got us set up in MeetUp.com. The response has been wonderful. It definitely attracts interest. We have signed up several new members through the web site.
We use the banner at every event we have. It is a conversation starter. Again, it attracts interest.
We hold a kick off meeting in March to generate interest. This year we had somewhere between 70 and 80 people show up - a combination of members and prospective members.
We promote ourselves as a social group that golfs rather than a golf group that socializes. I asked a lot of the social chairs this year and they responded. We had at least 3 social events a month during the winter months when we could not golf. We have become a 12 month activity group. We held events such as wine tour, concerts, theatre, bowling, etc.
Probably the best marketing tool we have is our members. Our board is VERY outgoing and talkative. My feeling is that when the members see the board being proactive it creates a good feeling among the members. Word of mouth advertising is the best way to promote the chapter. We always tell prospective members they can come out 2 times and "try" us before they have to join. It's rare if anyone uses that second outing. Most join after one event. We have tried to create a family atmosphere so as no one is excluded. Happy members make actice members who bring other friends.
Another leader writes: I believe a big part has been the weekly electronic news bulletin sent out by our communications chair. It lists upcoming golf outings, with links for the sign-up sheets along with our upcoming social activities. I do believe that the weekly notice helps to build participation, and greater participation builds greater interest which holds members and gets outsiders interested. It puts a face on the organization. When a current member renews, I send a one or two sentence note saying it's great to have them back. Again, it just makes the organization more personal and friendlier. We also changed our fee structure to allow "guests" to play at the same cost as members. In the past, we had a surcharge, but decided to get rid of that in the interest of getting potential members onto the fairways with us so they can find out what a great, fun loving, group of folks we are. Our monthly socials are just that, social, and the Board members in attendance under the leadership of our Chapter President, make sure that new folks get introduced and made to feel welcome.
In January 2010, we also created a MeetUp.com site. It will cost us about $144/yr to carry, but that cost is cheaper than some of the print advertising we've done in the past, and it is marketing to a group of people who depend on the internet, not printed publications, for news about activities. When I talk to new members and ask how they heard about ASGA, most respond that they found the organization through an internet search, so your National site is very important as a entry point for folks finding a chapter near where they live.
Also, over the last year, our two social co-chairs have really ramped up the number and variety of non-golf social events we enjoy when we're not golfing. And, I do believe that all of the members of the Chapter Board have worked very hard to be inclusive, focusing on fun and fellowship in addition to fairways, making sure that members who are not the greatest golfers feel included in the outings and are not ostracized for their lack of golfing prowess.
And another leader writes: I believe marketing through our "core" members, the internet, and various forms of communication have contributed to the overall success of the Philadelphia Chapter's 2010 season.
Core Members: The Board Members of the Philadelphia Chapter are committed to the mission of the ASGA.....fun, fellowship, and fairways. It's my opinion the most valuable asset of the Chapter is its members.....especially our long time, active (core) Members. The active members are already "sold" thus we use them as a selling tool to promote the ASGA. One of the surest ways to enhance member/guest participation and satisfaction is to connect our guests with fun/outgoing core members to help create an experience that's unique, fun and memorable. We have converted guests and retained many members by utilizing our core group.
Internet: Another means of marketing/selling the ASGA is through the Internet, specifically MeetUp.com. The Board thought advertising our monthly meetings via MeetUp.com would draw those with same interest....golf, singles, etc. This form of advertisement was at a fraction of the cost compared to magazine/newspaper ads. MeetUp.com has worked well for our group. We welcome at minimum of three new guests at our monthly mingle/meeting. Most guests that attended our monthly mingle ultimately joined us on the links and/or joined the ASGA.
The Chapter's website provides our members and website visitors with a comprehensive and updated schedule of our events (golf and social). The Philadelphia Chapter has experienced record breaking attendance at every outing this season. I believe members/guests can make plans when they have a calendar of events (both golf and social) well in advance. The more time to plan the better. Our golf schedule is full - weekly outings starting April through September. Our Members have asked for additional golf outings through October. We heard the shout out so we are adding a few more to the calendar.
Communication (visual, written, and verbal): Again, the 2010 season has been a "banner" year. Speaking of banner, last season (2009) the Philadelphia Chapter purchased a large, color banner that was toted from outing to outing promoting our chapter and the overall ASGA. The banner is strategically placed (plain view) at every golf outing for all golfers to note. We were happy to learn National offered these banners for the 2010 year. Other forms of communication through weekly email blasts and our monthly newsletters also appear to help promote the chapter or at least allow people to read of all the fun we have at each outing and social event. This peaks their interest to join us at one or more events. We keep ASGA in sight - the total opposite of "out of sight out of mind".
Last but not least the old fashion "word of mouth" advertising - it does work!
Editor's Note: Please continue to submit THINGS THAT WORK and we'll post them here. Submit to: GolfASGA@aol.com
American Singles Golf Association, 1122 Industrial Drive, Suite 107, Matthews, NC 28105