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SteveRV7a
09-22-2013, 05:27 PM
I thought I'd throw out a question to see what kind of ideas you all might have on this topic. The question is - how do you - or did you - grow and diversify your chapter membership?

The membership in our chapter, like many others, is steadily aging. It is not diverse, lacking members who are women, minorities or non-pilots. We jokingly refer to our monthly chapter breakfasts as the "Old Men's Breakfast Club".

It is a well known problem that the numbers of pilots is shrinking. Reasons and discussions why could justify the existence of a whole new message board! Despite this, I believe there is still a great deal of interest in aviation, even if everyone with an interest can not (immediately) realize their dream to be a pilot.

It seems to me that we need to increase community awareness of our airports and chapters, let these community members know that chapter membership only requires an interest in aviation and not a pilot's license, and that members of all ages - including families, women and minorities - are welcome.

So - how does one accomplish this? What do you do, or what have you done, to grow and diversify your chapter membership? How do you get the community involved? What has worked, or not worked for you?

Thanks. Steve Houghton

Mike Switzer
09-22-2013, 07:42 PM
I don't think the problem is limited to EAA. We were having a very similar discussion in our church council meeting this morning.

Downs
09-22-2013, 09:50 PM
Everyone is tightening up their purse strings. Memberships cost money. Most of them cost around 40 dollars a year. For instance the club I'm a part of is 40 dollars a year plus the 40 to EAA which they require you to be a part of. That's 80 dollars a year.

I totaled up the memberships I had a few years ago for various things. Flying, shooting, motorcycles, ect, ect. It think I was up to around 3 hundred dollars a year just in membership fees before I even started doing anything involving those activities.

Then people start looking at what they get out of their memberships. I signed up for EAA a month ago. I still haven't even seen a welcome aboard package or membership card or magazine. Nothing. The only reason I have my EAA number is because I got it in an e-mail.

It's a complicated problem only made more complicated by the lack of expendable money folks have...........and the things they choose to spend their money on.

Flying in general has very limited utility. Yeah it's fun to get in the air but say you want to take a trip. You could be grounded for days due to weather away from your home field. Are there enough airstrips in your fuel range on your trip? Can you land at the local grocery store and buy a weeks worth of groceries?

mbond
09-23-2013, 06:17 AM
We have the same problem in our model RC aviation club. Aging membership, harder and harder to get people to come to meetings and activities.

Our local EAA chapter is 'active' but the most active members (i went to 2 meeting, but never joined) aren't building or involved in any projects other than young eagles and the occasional pancake breakfast. The meetings were held at local restaurants. They were friendly people, and welcomed me, but it felt like trying to break into a well established group of friends.

Things that I think would improve the situation.

1) Don't meet at a restaurant or around a meal. This is a very friendly and social gathering, which seems like a good idea. But to someone new to the club its like meeting your girlfriends family for the first time, at thanksgiving. Everyone is talking and comfortable with everyone else, except for you.

2) There needs to be a project. New members aren't going to want to drop the membership fees if there is no visible benefit to those fees. If membership is $40 (.75 on the hobbs ;-) ), and the club doesn't have a building to maintain, or other static fees that it needs to worry about, or regular activities other than meeting at a restaurant for dinner, its a bit of a put-off.


Just my 2 cents.

FunInAviation
09-24-2013, 06:26 AM
Here's blog I wrote about building chapter membership:

http://www.funplacestofly.com/blog.asp?ID=971

Mike Berg
09-25-2013, 04:39 PM
Interesting subject. I've been a EAA member since the early 1980's but never joined the local chapter although I have made a few presentations to them over the years. For a long while it was a lack of time. I was working, teaching, driving school bus on athletic trips and involved in church activities and I need some time at home. Now that I'm retired and +70 I find I want to go out less during the evening especially when it's cold. We do have a flying club at our little grass strip airport and meet most Saturdays for coffee , rolls and telling flying lies. I think maybe as the pilot population ages it's harder to 'get off the ground' (for a lack of better term).

Trevor Janz
10-03-2013, 01:20 PM
Excellent exchange of ideas and thoughts. Here are some links that may also help:
http://www.eaa.org/chapters/resources/reference/attractretain.asp

http://www.eaa.org/chapters/resources/reference/interpretdirection.asp

http://www.eaa.org/chapters/resources/reference/listen.asp

And more at http://www.eaa.org/chapters/resources/reference/

cub builder
10-09-2013, 11:22 AM
I have found the most effective way to grow the membership is to make the meetings of interest to potential members. I have made it a point for the last 6 years I have been a chapter president to have a technical presentation at every single meeting. If we are covering a subject matter that is of interest to builders or potential builders, they will be there. If we do it regularly, they are there regularly and are there as members, whether young or old. If all you do is say the pledge of allegiance, talk about planes, and watch a video, things are going to get stale very quickly. We have speakers covering a large gambit of aviation from Aerodynamics, safety, mechanical, building techniques, alternate engines, aftermarket ignitions, ADSB training, FAA FASTeam speakers, Aviation Authors, etc. Our meetings are so full we find it difficult to fit in the very nice monthly videos being posted by the EAA.

-CubBuilder
EAA Chapter 691 (soon to be retired) President
The other thing we do is organize events. We have an annual spot landing contest with a barbecue afterwards. We have a number of Young Eagles events, but we don't make the kids come to us. The most fun ones are the ones where we go to a remote airport that has little use. We have one currently where we go fly kids from a remote community off from a little used 3000' dirt strip up in the mountains. Events like that are even more rewarding than the typical day of flying YE from your home airport.

Trevor Janz
10-09-2013, 12:15 PM
This is excellent! Thanks for posting!

mexpilot
10-15-2013, 12:00 AM
Why would you want minorities?

I_FLY_LOW
10-15-2013, 12:44 PM
:eek:

http://download.gamespotcdn.net/d4/user_images/1979/0funnyohnoyoudidnt_2.gif

cub builder
10-15-2013, 03:47 PM
Why would you want minorities?

Huh? :confused: As pilots, we're all a minority. :D Skin color, political affiliation, religion isn't important when we're talking aviation. But we might give you grief if you fly a kerosene burner. ;)


-CubBuilder

Pearson
12-23-2013, 01:30 PM
Building membership is a three step process. First you have to get them in the door. Second, you have to make them feel welcome. Third you have to get them to enjoy coming to the second, and subsequent meetings.

The first step is actually the easiest. Pilots enjoy meeting and talking with other pilots. Task each of your current members to actually invite people they meet to come to a meeting. My chapter (1111 Kelso, WA) had a trifold flyer printed up. We did it on the cheap, printing it off of a computer printer. Post an announcement at the local FBO.

How many times have you had a guest show up for a meeting or two, and then disappear? The second step, making them feel welcome, is where we often fail. The most important thing you can do is to assign someone to pair up with a guest to introduce them to the other members. Don't just introduce them. Tell them something about each member and let a conversation develop. My chapter had name tags made up for each member. That way a guest doesn't have to be embarrassed for not remembering names. We also have a bio for each member posted on the wall with pictures of their airplane or project. This helps promote conversation and helps the guest get to know the members. Each member also stands up at the beginning of each meeting and states their name.

Lastly the third step is to get them to want to return. Task each member with making guests feel welcome. Let them know what will be happening at the next meeting. If the guest is interested in building a project, invite them to your hangar or home to see yours. Have something interesting planned for the next meeting. EAA has video designed just for chapter meetings. Or have someone do a talk about their project, or a fly-out. Have lots of pictures or videos. Unless it is an extremely interesting subject, having someone just stand up and talk about something is not nearly as interesting as a presentation with visual aids.

Have someone call the guest the day before the next meeting. Possibly the same person that introduced them to everyone at the first meeting.

Sonex1517
12-23-2013, 04:29 PM
That may be the best post on EAA Chapters I have read in a while.

What doesn't bring them back:

Ignoring new faces.

Bashing experimental aviation or one particular model of experimental aviation.

Having no communication with members.

I wondered for some time if this was me, but the more EAA members I talk to, the more I realize it is not. The problem is real.

Blue skies
Robbie Culver
Sonex 1517

The Traveler
12-30-2013, 10:40 PM
I agree with Pearson, 100%.

I just left one local chapter only because I moved. Had I not moved, I would have stuck with them (690). They did a great job, very friendly, very welcoming, and I met some really nice people.

Now I'm in a new location, seeking out a local chapter, and I can only hope they turn out to be at least similar in style.

There is certainly foundation on the concerns of the Old Man's Breakfast Club that someone else mentioned. I still enjoy listening to the old guys talk and I take great attention to the experience and wisdom they pass on, there comes a time when we run out of things to connect on. And I can attest to the fact that many of my friends of a similar age know nothing and have no interest in aviation. Could that change? Sure. But the $40 per year isn't the concern. It goes a lot deeper than that, but I fear it's quite a bit more than I'd care to write in this thread.

Wildcard
02-16-2014, 10:04 AM
Why would you want minorities?

As a new EAA member(and a black man), I really hope this comment isn't a "majority" opinion of this community.

Eagle Six
02-16-2014, 11:11 AM
Why would you want minorities?As a new EAA member(and a black man), I really hope this comment isn't a "majority" opinion of this community.
Although I started flying over 40'ty years ago, I'm also a new member to EAA. Interested in a local chapter, I had similar experiencing finding a local group, as has been discussed in this thread and similar threads.

It took some effort and time, but I finally connected with a local chapter and both my wife and I have joined. For the most part I have been welcomed with open arms both on the national and local levels. It was a bit stuffy at first, but maybe that had something to do with my expectations.

So, being a new guy as well, I don't pretend to speak for the EAA, but I just haven't found it to reflect any negative feelings towards minorities. When I watch the birds, I see black birds and white birds, birds with reds, greens and brown feathers, and all of them are flying. Pretty much the same with airplanes, there are some painted white, some painted black, blue and all color combinations of stripes and color schemes.....and they are all flying. I think the EAA is made up of all kinds of pilots (and non-pilots), flying all kinds and colors of aircraft, and would venture to say, we all started off watching all kinds of birds fly, before we took to the air.

So, Wildcard, Welcome Aboard. If you ever get to Arizona I would be delighted to introduce you to our chapter.


Best Regards.......George

1600vw
02-16-2014, 03:44 PM
As a new EAA member(and a black man), I really hope this comment isn't a "majority" opinion of this community.

Welcome aboard Wildcard.

I really hate it when folks or people call me white. I look at a wall or house painted white, walk up and put my arm to it. Do I look white? I call myself...American.

But I am Italian with some Native American in me. I am a mutt. Nothing white about me but my teeth and the older I get those are not so white anymore.

I long for an active club to be part of. Something where guys and gals are working on their airplanes and getting them in shape for another year. Where the group flies off to a lunch or something. But I have come to understand I am late in the game. We are in the finally 2 mins. of the 4th quarter. Most have already packed up and heading somewhere else.




Tony

Wildcard
02-18-2014, 07:25 AM
Welcome aboard Wildcard.

I really hate it when folks or people call me white. I look at a wall or house painted white, walk up and put my arm to it. Do I look white? I call myself...American.

But I am Italian with some Native American in me. I am a mutt. Nothing white about me but my teeth and the older I get those are not so white anymore.

I long for an active club to be part of. Something where guys and gals are working on their airplanes and getting them in shape for another year. Where the group flies off to a lunch or something. But I have come to understand I am late in the game. We are in the finally 2 mins. of the 4th quarter. Most have already packed up and heading somewhere else.




Tony

Well, I hate being called "Black", because that is as inaccurate a description of me as "white" is of you. What would be accurate would be "souls having a human experience", but good luck getting people to use that phrase instead of white, black, etc. :)

Thanks for the welcomes.

1600vw
02-18-2014, 08:12 AM
How about..Americans....just call all of us Americans...Lets not label anyone, if you belong to this country or passed your citizenship you are and we are....AMERICANS.

Just call me American.

Tony

martymayes
02-18-2014, 02:02 PM
Having no communication with members.

I wondered for some time if this was me, but the more EAA members I talk to, the more I realize it is not. The problem is real.

Same here Robbie. In December I received a membership invoice from the local EAA chapter. I fill out the blanks, write a check stuff it in an envelope because I'm about to leave town. I can't find an address to mail it to. I send an email to the secretary and ask for a mailing address. No reply. Send several more emails, nary a response. Oh well, guess I won't be a member of that chapter this year.

Trevor Janz
02-19-2014, 05:51 PM
Airplanes do not care what color you are, religion you are...or nationality you are. Lets do some flying!
I have a commentary from a chapter member that is upset with his chapter consistently talking politics at their meetings in the next CHAPTERGRAM OPEN MIC section. Dont miss it.
Also, planes do not care what your political affliation is.

PaulDow
02-20-2014, 09:39 AM
If you want to improve a chapter, I recommend listening to the recent web seminar presented by the folks at Fitchburg, Mass. It's at http://www.eaavideo.org/video.aspx?v=3062707068001
I thought they have some very good ideas and policies. The whole thing is about 1:25, but the main presentation is about 30 minutes.