For any climbing or walking club, attracting new members is an essential job. In this article we look at the different ways that your club could attract new members.
In any club, there will always be members who do not renew for one reason or another. New members are both essential to maintain the club, and they will also bring new skills and experience. But just how can you attract them?
There are many questions that you should think about before planning any recruitment drive. Here are some examples to give you a start (not in any particular order):
Are you recruiting for a brand new club?
If you’re a new club then the personal contact lists of the initial member enthusiasts could be very important. Beg, bribe, cajole, whatever, but get everyone to bring a few friends along to each of your early get-togethers, and hopefully they will bring their friends along too. The minimum number of people for BMC Club affiliation is twenty.
Existing clubs needing more members could first look at the age pattern of club members.
Do you want more of the same age, or do you want a different spread of ages? Is the club predominately male or female? Do you want this to continue or are you going to make an effort to attract members of the opposite sex? Is your club in an area where there are different ethnic groups? If so, how can you set out about broadening the ethnicity of your membership?
What is most important for your club?
If you are fighting for survival then perhaps what you need most is some extra income. Look not just for prospective climbers and walkers but include your search for 'social' members too. Apart from contributing to the organisation and the general social atmosphere of the club, they can help to provide the income you desperately need for survival.
If you are not fighting for survival then how many members do you need?
How many members can you accommodate on weekend meets? What is the sum of your club's overheads? How much do you need to raise from subscriptions? How much can you charge for membership? How much do other climbing clubs charge their members? Can you raise money in other ways, or reduce your costs?
What does your climbing club want to be?
One where rock climbing predominates, one where walking and general mountaineering predominates, or one where all three are equally significant? Your choice will have great bearing on how you promote your club.
Preparing a list like this is not a job to be done by just one person. Ideally your club will have someone with responsibility for recruitment, or perhaps one that addresses marketing and publicity issues, to include recruitment.
If you choose to establish a subcommittee for this area then the membership of it is important: approach club members with business or management experience, particularly in marketing or public relations. They are likely to be experienced in matters concerned with planning and be willing to contribute to these difficult discussions.
Websites like www.ukclimbing.com and www.ukhillwalking.com are excellent ways of reaching many people with ease. The BMC is obviously able to help with targeted communications. The BMC also has a Clubs’ Committee that exists to promote clubs and their interests. If any of your club members are adept writers or photographers, then contributions to Climber, Climb or Summit are ways of gaining additional exposure.
Standardise your paper advertising with A4 or A5-sized posters and get permission to put them anywhere there are notice boards in places like libraries, climbing walls and gear shops. Emphasising the healthy, open-air aspect of the sport, as well as opportunities for travel and new experiences, isn’t a bad thing to do either.
Wherever possible, establish a club website and refer to its web address (URL) in every form of your advertising. A club journal or newsletter is almost essential in some form or other. Also consider setting up a Facebook page and start using Twitter.
For more information on running a club, see the BMC Club Guidelines, including advice on retaining members.
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