To draw members to chapter events takes equal measures of marketing and event planning, with a double dose of excitement. And, as the economy tightens, chapters have to do this with a careful eye on expenses. Last week, Cynthia D’Amour hosted the conversation over at the Chapter Leaders Playground where we talked about some options. I highlighted a few in my earlier post – and here are few others.
One way to handle the balancing act is to co-opt exciting events. Basically, you take an event or a venue and let it be the backdrop for a networking or educational program. Here are a couple of examples that have worked for our chapters:
- In Washington DC, there is a popular Embassy Series, an annual program promoting international understanding and global cultural diplomacy through music and the Arts, by extending public access to Washington DC's embassies and ambassadors' residences, highlighting their music and culture and showcasing American and international artists. We have annually selected one of the events to promote to our members. We set up a pre-event private reception with the Ambassador which usually includes a tour of the Embassy. The cost is generally just the price of the event ticket and all sales are handled through the Embassy Series box office.
- Another chapter hosts “backstage” tours of new venues when they open in town. This is a chapter of special event professionals for whom seeing the newest venue offerings is a real draw, but I’ve seen this work with other groups such as the chapter of facilities managers. Generally the host facility handles much of the cost and the logistics.
- One of my favorite local groups, FacetsWoman, regularly hosts “learning” events such as a cruise on a Skip Jack to learn about Chesapeake Bay, a dinner and tour of the Baltimore Museum of Industry and a hands-on evening at the Baltimore ClayWorks.
- Tuesday morning series is simple concept that has many variations. For our chapter is consisted of a series of quick conversations (1.25 hrs) on a hot topic repeated in various locations around the region which were hosted by members in conference rooms. They provided the room and the coffee. I’ve seen this work as a Second Friday of the month gathering at a local coffee shop and as a monthly breakfast at a local restaurant. It's not about a large gathering, but an open invitation to meet and chat.
Do you have ideas that are working in your chapters?