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THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL AND HATE FOR AMTGARD
Citizenship In Amtgard - Membership and Fund Raising
[04/15/2002] [Count D'alle de Salle']

Since every Amtgard club has its own unique culture, some of the improvements below may be relevant and others will not apply. The options are limitless, and only your club members will know what might work best for you. Hopefully the suggestions will get conversations started to help you develop and implement your own improvement plan.

Building Membership

Appoint an eager, self-motivated individual as the membership committee chairman. Diverse committee members will be able to suggest ways to continue building a strong diverse membership. For example, younger members tend to recruit younger members. Plan projects and smaller events with members who have a particular interest. Do planning meetings. Monarchs and Regents should have a committee set apart to be the watch dog of the local and kingdoms attendance. Do interest surveys and the membership committee should brainstorm for ideas. Ask visitors for feedback. Make a list of the best things about your club. You now have a list of selling points to use when recruiting new members. Have a procedure to follow up on new member leads or visitors to the parks or events.

Develop marketing and membership goals. Is your club's priority to build membership or to enhance your image and visibility in the community? Maybe both. Make and use a Membership Orientation Kit to help you. Develop and implement a long-range plan to build your membership. Based on your conversion rate of visitors who become members, determine the number of visitors needed per month to achieve your goals. Encourage members to bring visitors to meetings on a regular basis.

Be proactive. Once a membership plan is developed, don't assume prospective members will come knocking on your door. Actively pursue them. Include in your plan a process that is based on building a relationship with prospects because the sale is rarely closed on the first attempt. Be aware of attendence. Not just with, "Well gee, there's not as many people to kill" in any given battle game. Get head counts at every meeting, keep track of things that could have brought down attendance; weather, attitudes, loaner equipment, newbie hunting, etc. Report this attendance in the newsletter, so everyone becomes responsible. No one really cares about attendance if they don't see it as a problem. Make attendance part of all your gatherings. Make it social -- there is plenty of time for ditching.

Don't recruit token members. Make it an ongoing practice to recruit a diverse group of members of all ages, genders and races. Recruit several individuals at a time, so they can join together and have one another for support. Be competitive about it too, make it a challenge to shires, baronies on up the line. Get companies and households involved, because it helps them too. Spotlight Brochures for companies, households and even local members is a interesting way of promoting yourselves and getting people involved.

Keeping Membership

Vary projects between fund-raisers and hands-on activities. Each member has a special skill or talent and must balance family, work, other community activities, and personal interests. Offering a variety of projects at a variety of times gives members the flexibility to select one that matches their schedules. Develop a mentoring program that is differant. Maybe a SecretPal program, where an individual will do and make things for a newbie as secret gifts.

The most satisfying projects are hands-on projects that last for a short duration and result in instant gratification. Scatter these between the more intense and time-consuming projects to motivate members.

Evaluate your current image in the community. Step back and take a good look at how others view your club. Does it match your own view? If attendance is dropping things to look at and maybe change: Location, Location, Location; Time, Time, Time. Maybe have more than one park. If you have a large group, maybe making shires and splitting things up will help. (Note this can bring up an whole other set of problems, and is only advised for strong membership looking for more growth.) Attitudes, Fun, Fantasy; encourage excellence, focus on Amtgard.

Making Amtgard Social

Give something for the new members to do. Conduct Art and Science Classes sponsored by Arts and Science Guilds. Class Guildmasters should have small 30 minute get-togethers, on battle days, with other members and discuss better uses of class abilities. Guilds should also have a special recognition nights for member who achieve class advances or masterhoods. Have a Roleplay night, where the focus is about being in character - ie, no politics. Have a Fighters practice. Have a Arts and Science Practice. Weapons Masters and Sword Knights have a responsiblity to teach newbies the basic of Amtgard fighting, just as Serpent Knights and Masters of Arts and Sciences do to teach any newbie an art or science of their choosing.

Plan gatherings and events with more than just ditching, drinking and heckling in mind. But do keep the aspect of Fantasy, History, and Amtgard.

Fundraising

Every local club needs funds. Things get expensive and just the normal paperwork of the Prime Minister can be costly. But keeping cost low for newbies will keep them coming back. Get them involved with the fundraising too. Just like with membership, there needs to be a committee. They are responsible for the brainstorming, surveys, and implementation. Again an self-motivated individual is the best bet. Again, just like with membership, get everyone involved, by reporting successes and what kind of fundraising works and costs. Develop a marketing strategy and implement it with enthusiasm. Get fund raising to be competitive, between clubs, companies, households. Make sure that everyone understands it's about raising funds.

Do Both

It is my opinion that new membership and fund-raising go hand in hand. You can not have growth without effort and money. Volunteerism and donations are great and are always available from token members (read Knight of the Flame). Getting some new blood is alway interesting on both the battle field and on the art and sciences killing floor. Doing both is a key to success that will open great opportunities for your group.

Random Suggestions

Have raffles for new members. Give them the opportunity to get cool garb donated by working garbers, get a cool weapon by a weaponsmith master or even raffling off time slot training with Weapons Masters.

A must do: Newsletter, web page, photo gallery, get online with the local group. Send out press releases for events, elections, kingdom happenings, and not just to Amtgard lists.

Post brochures and flyers about your club at your local library.

Post brochures and flyers about your club at local book stores, comic stores, gaming stores, yah the usual, but what about the grocery store?

If your company or household has a newsletter, get a small ad for your local group and maybe a small article. Maybe even write about events.

Can you say, "Garage Sale"!!

Make bumper stickers, t-Shirts, mugs, mousepads for the local group. Then wear them. Make a contest of it, winner gets dinner or something neat.

Since we all meet in parks and such, get the kingdom to have banners. Not just big heraldic kind but ones that display info:

XYZ Shire Amtgard
Waffle the Baffle every Saturday
Starting at 3 PM

Demo Amtgard at Movie Openings (Lord of the Rings), faires, history fairs.

Provide talent to other organisations - ie, Storytellers at Toastmasters, Poets and Singers and writers at Open Mics, Creative writing clubs.

To Raise Funds: Have a pay to play day! Charge a penny a swing, cast a spell, or something.

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