Local chapter

My local chapter sent out a survey this week about how to improve its service, I guess, to its members.

I have no idea. I only know I've become increasingly dissatisfied with it over the past years. When I joined, we were huge (well, for us - like 80 members, 60 of whom would show up for meetings.) The energy was incredible, we had published authors all over the place. Membership has fluctuated, but attendance at the meetings has really dwindled, so much that we couldn't get a quorum to vote for a by-laws change in September. A lot of the problem is that a lot of members live out of town, or even out of state.

But that aside, I don't know how to help recharge the group. I know it's not meeting my needs, and it's clearly not meeting the needs of the published authors, because they never go. The board is talking about growing membership, but not considering that old members are dropping like flies, that its published authors rarely attend, that most of the talks at the meetings are geared toward newbies.

I'd actually been thinking about not renewing my membership. I don't get anything out of the meetings, maybe because I get what I need online from other groups (our email loop has shrunk, too - it used to be my favorite thing about the chapter.) A friend told me I should remain in the chapter as inspiration for others, but that hardly seems fair.

What I want to know is what do your local chapters do to keep people coming, to keep people fired up, to keep people interested.

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Trish Milburn said...

One thing we do is have an annual members-only retreat where we have mini workshops as well as just hang out together and gab time. It really seems to be a bonding time for the group as well as educational.

MJFredrick said...

Oh, I don't think I'd like that ;) But I could suggest it. Is it costly?

Anonymous said...

Mar, as you know, I could have written what you have written, word for word. And I don't have an answer for the situation.


Amie Stuart said...

Mary our chapter does teh same as Trish's but we do it at a chpatermembers lake house. I haven't gone but I hear it's great. I just don't think I could handle a house full of women for 2 days. LOL

Seriously, very few of our published authors participate either but we have a really small chapter (like 25?). My chapter's supportive of epublishing (or any writing achievements for that matter) but the real reason I go is to get out of the house. THey're a nice group and I need the socalization (we do have good guest speakers too LOL).

I guess I'm no help, huh?

MJFredrick said...

Our chapter is pretty supportive of epubs, too. We're medium sized, I guess, around 80 members, though maybe 30 show up to meetings. I'm not exaggerating to say that nearly half have out-of-town addresses. Some, like JoAnn, are relatively close, but others are out of state, and some several hours away.

Cece and Trish, how many people go to these retreats? I can only imagine maybe 10 who would from our chapter.

Maybe part of my recent apathy with my chapter is because it is another reason I have to leave my house. See, unlike you, Cece, I look for reasons to stay home - like tomorrow!

Gina Black said...

My chapter is BIG. Everytime I go it's like a miniconference. We tend to have really good speakers (Debbie Macomber will be there in November; in the past year we've had Dean Koontz, Jackie Collins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, etc.). We have booksignings at lunch.

My chapter has also been the same size and not nearly so good. I think the difference is the leadership. Right now we have great leadership with warm women that are very inclusionary, so every meeting is very supportive and nurturing to the creative side.

It's very important to keep the pubbed authors involved. There should be benefits for them besides sharing their knowledge and providing inspiration to others.

MJFredrick said...

Gina, you're in Orange County, right? Y'all have all day meetings, or something like that? Pubs meet in one place, unpubs in another? What kinds of things do you offer your pubs? Not that I'm so certain I'll be published, but I love having published authors at our meetings, and wonder how to get them to keep coming!

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

That's a toughie, Mary. We have about 75 members of whom perhaps 30 attend meetings at any given time. As the program chair, I've tried to invite speakers that I hope can speak to both published and unpublished members. We've also thought of taking a leaf from SF and having a published author appreciation at a local bookseller, and published author dinners where they can interact with booksellers or a big name author. We're also thinking of having a members only retreat.

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