Been out of the loop for a bit. I'm wondering what your steering committee decided to cap the membership at and why? Meeting dynamics, meeting venue capacity? What you did might be helpful to what we're facing now.
I posted this in the other thread but I'll expand on it here:
Meeting location is one of the practical limits and it's probably a bigger issue for old clubs that have been in one establishment for a really long time. Before our explosive growth, the club had been at the same joint for 10 years. A lot of members were adamant against moving to a new place. The people that were in favor of moving couldn't come close to finding a suitable alternative (free and larger). We would have settled for inexpensive.
That's exactly what situation we were in. We had a good portion of the membership who were around for years and years and even some who were at the first meeting in 1996. Not that seniority has any play on decision making in our club, but there was a sense of longevity and stability associated with our meeting space and that space is logistically limited to a max of like 50 people. We held a vote on whether or not we should consider moving to a different venue. Leading up to it, we suggested that anyone that would vote yes would be better positioned to seek out alternative locations and find out what the cost would be. No one really did the leg work on that and the vote went something like 65% stay, 35% find a new venue.
That pretty much sealed the deal on our requirement to limit membership. From then, it was a decision on exactly how we'd do it. The options ranged from a hard cap with a first come, first served system of new membership acquisition to harsh scrutiny of existing members to make sure they weren't just holding a spot with no real participation. See, once you have 50 seats available, you have to think about what kind of members you want occupying them. That's a bit elitist in the realm of homebrewing, but how fun would the club be if a "homebrewing" club was 90% beer drinkers and 10% brewers?
We have capped at 57 so far this year due to how many people are showing up regularly. While the space can fit 50 or so, we only have enough room for 45 chairs before it's hard to walk past. With that limitation, we expect that new applicants are already homebrewers and if anyone inquires wanting to get into the hobby, we provide a list of resources and usually someone will lend a hand with mentorship. Turning an interested beginner away from the club is the hardest thing to swallow and no one feels good about it. Finally, we implemented a strategy to remove stagnant non-contributors/non-participators. Every member earns points for participating in things the club has deemed worthy and in support of the mission. It ranges from bringing beers to the flight, giving a presentation, brewing at group brews, hosting events, being AHA members, going to NHC, etc. It's a huge pain in the butt to keep track of but the idea is to deny renewal if you don't earn points. Ugh, I know it sounds horrible and covered in red tape.