I saw this article in the ARRL Newsletter and what it speaks about
resonated with me immediately. I still remember the first SBARC event,
field day, I ever attended, and it was a "lonesome" event.
As a former officer of SBARC, one thing I always tried to do at SBARC
meetings/events was to keep my eye open for people who looked like they
were being ignored, and 1) introduce myself, and 2) try to put them in
touch with others who had similar interests. And then say Hi to them
when I saw them again.
I might add SBARC grew when I first joined to over 500 members mostly
thanks to others doing the same thing I did. The other really important
thing SBARC did was have events... field day, Bazaar, Hamfest to name a
couple, that provided members (and others) a chance to get involved with
Another major factor in growing SBARC was to actively involve many
others in SBARC activities. The most recent similar activity I'm
thinking about was Levi (and others) and his work involved with our new
Carpinteria Ham station. Another person almost all of us know is Bill
Talanian, W1UUQ, and his consistent work (mostly behind the scenes) with
building a first class repeater system.
For me, Darryl Widman, KF6DI, was a major factor in SBARC growing as did
back then. He was ALWAYS asking members to get involved. His push to
grow SBARC resulted in a membership of over 500 people (including one
dog that rumor has it.)
These are just a couple of my thoughts on building an organization to be
more than just a club name.
Two Simple Tricks to Expand Club Membership
As an ARRL official, I talk with hundreds of hams each year, many of
whom are newly licensed or returning to the airwaves after a long
absence. I ask them if they belong to a local club. To my surprise, many
reply no, and cite two reasons why they don't join. First, no one
responds to a call from them on the club's repeater, and secondly, they
feel awkward at club meetings because few members wear badges to
identify themselves. Both situations can easily be remedied.
Make it a club policy for members to monitor the club's designated
repeater for at least 1 hour ahead of meeting times, not only for
regularly scheduled meetings, but also for any informal events, such as
breakfasts, lunches, or dinners. Answer unfamiliar calls, and invite the
caller to your event, confirming the location. This is not only
appreciated by new hams, but also operators returning to our hobby after
many years. Remember that VHF/UHF FM equipment sold 30 years ago is
still fully functional, so lots of returning hams still expect repeaters
to be the primary conduit to communicate with members before meetings.
Many hams have gotten out of the habit of wearing a badge. While most
members may know one another by sight, a visitor does not. Wearing a
badge at a gathering helps associate a name and call sign with a face,
and makes the visitor feel at ease. An easy way to make sure everyone is
identified is to have blank adhesive name badges from an office supply
store and a marker by the entrance to the meeting room. Another
suggestion is to have your club work out a bulk order arrangement with
an amateur radio badge maker. The club could even offer to pay a
percentage of the price per badge to encourage members to buy one.
Monitoring the club's official repeater and wearing a badge are two
simple ways to make nonmembers feel welcome and part of your club, with
the hope they will join.
-- ARRL Roanoke Division Vice Director Bill Morine, N2COP