I just returned from our first regional training in the southeast. Lots of great ideas were kicked around to gain visibility and members. No matter what is decided, the secret to success is planning!
Every community has topics of interest that are unique and important to its citizens.
Consider using the “Hot Topics” Lunch or the "Souper Suppers" that LWV Albany County NY has as a venue to discuss these timely issues, while also bringing a spotlight to the League and its work.
When done with an intentional focus on organizational growth, Leagues have found these events to be an extremely successful way to attract new members to the organization. The tips below were gleaned from League experiences in Florida.
StepOne: Enlist a small committee of two or three, including Board and off-Board leaders, to draw up a plan for three to four months. The committee should decide upon the topics to be covered as well as what speakers would be appropriate. Consider “controversial” speakers or subjects that may be outside of the “usual” League interests. Customize the program to fit your League’s needs and to utilize your League’s “connections” to secure speakers. (Panels tend get higher attendance than single speakers, but the right individual speaker can draw a great crowd.)
StepTwo: Secure a venue for a luncheon that you will be able to use regularly. A private dining room is a must to ensure that your guest speakers will not be interrupted. Also consider audio visual capability; that will be a plus as you grow! Negotiate a set price for food and beverage for your guests; remind the restaurant that you will be giving them repeat business and attracting the community’s “movers and shakers” (i.e., people who are good prospects for future business). Make sure that the cost of admission covers the cost of the meal, and some Leagues add on an additional amount to help offset the League’s operating expenses.
StepThree: It is imperative that you market your lunch programs consistently and frequently. Attendance will grow, but it will depend on very consistent reminders.
Some proven marketing strategies from Leagues in Florida include:
Additional Tips and information:
In Florida, each of the events listed above attracted 85 – 108 attendees!
In identifying speakers, consider local professors, reporters/columnists, agency heads, law enforcement, legislators, and lobbyists, elected or appointed school officials, hospital and college administrators, local activists or organizers, and authors. Utilize connections among League members to help secure speakers.