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Do other clubs have this problem?

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I can attest that our club officers are trying their best to drum up interest.  I'm one of the officers.  It seems that hardly anyone in the club brews anymore.  Most of the beers at our meetings are commercial.  I don't expect everyone to have the same level of interest as I do, but the apathy is driving me crazy.  We have seen a few occasional new faces at meetings.  I know we haven't lost our old members to another club.  We ask them "what do you want" from the club. Again, crickets.  It has hurt that two of our more dynamic members have a much lower level of participation.  One has become much more politically active and the other one is trying to open his own brewery.  Our next meeting is at the home of an excellent brewer of Saisons and sours.  I'm hoping will spark some interest.


--- Quote from: guido on May 07, 2013, 08:33:52 AM ---Apathy?  I know we'll never have a club like, say the Maltose Falcons, and I can live with that.  But I'm so frustrated with the apathy.  No one has any initiative. The officers have tried to encourage membership with discounts at LHBS, events, educational presentations, apparel, etc...  We're a stone's throw from the AHA conference this year.  I desperately wanted us to participate in club night.  There was no interest.  We have some great homebrewers, but my wife and I weren't about to single-handedly run our booth.  Sometimes, it seems like we're little more than an organized drinking club.  I've offered to put homebrewer bios and recipes on our newsletters and website to drum up interest and participation.  Crickets.  It's so frustrating.  We have annual dies of $15 and about 25 paid members.  We have a lot more who haven't paid. Our last meetings have had five and six attendees respectively.  Do I need to accept the reality that our club is what it is?  I'm grasping at straws here, folks.

--- End quote ---

Ah, the joys of volunteer organizations.  I am on the board of a number of non profits, and also involved in a couple local brew clubs.  With an older club, you will have members who on the surface seem apathetic, but really are folk no longer as passionate because they "been there, done that" stuff for years and time for new blood to help and energize.  Other passions replaced home brewing somewhat, and that's ok.  There is room for simply having a few beers with some old friends as part of the club. 

So when I joined, I asked myself, "what do I want to get out of a club?" What is the club I want to be part of, be proud of?  Then make it so.... with 1-2 others in the group that felt the same way we began executing.  You cannot make someone feel as passionate about something as you do, they have to come to it on their own.  So build it and they will come.  Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm - disappointment and frustration will not attract folk.

It sound like your group was similar in terms of actually having a good foundation  2-3 key events that have been going on for years, and a monthly meeting place with damn fine beers.

Building on those and see what the mix is for all these elements at every one: education, fun, social, club awareness and growth.

Monthly meetings - Still a social beer tasting event, but with an educational topic at every/every other for the first 1/3 of the meeting, then sharing home-brews - providing/getting feedback from experience brewers is a big perk to new folk; while socializing for the remaining portion. 

Brew day events - either at a member house or at a local homebrew shop - a way to introduce hobby and the club. Invite the press to attend it, new members or just interested folk, and have someone be there to engage them and explain what going on.

Competitions -good for internal bragging rights, or against that other local local brew clubs. Malt madness and War of the Worts two good ones for the PA clubs!  Enter comps yourself - start bringing back ribbons and you get enthusiasm from others.  Leads into education session on styles, what makes a good beer per BJCP, process discussions, etc.  Our club judges at a local country fair's homebrew contest and that is always fun and engaging for new and old when you talk about the winners and the rival clubs you beat ;-).

Road shows - demo's/speaking at local homebrew shops, beer festivals, historical, rotary, lions club etc about how to homebrew usually draws a few new people to the hobby. Sampling even more compelling.

Not sure what radio, press, or local TV you have out there, but makes friends with them.  They make good celebrity judges and will promote your events and hobby.

For any any of these you just need 2-3 folk to do it, other will jump in when it looks like fun.  Don't try to do more than what you have volunteers for, that will lead to frustration and burn out.  Do small things really well.

We been executing on this for the past 4 years and our member growth and event turn out has been very good.  A number of new faces at our meetings that have been engaging the older members for feedback bridges the gap you have.

Hope this helps.  Perhaps we'll see you at Club night.

Good luck!

Your organization may not be big enough on its own to have a critical mass of people willing to be incredibly involved in club operations although I do agree the club needs to be more forceful about getting people to pay dues or acknowledge they are no longer allowed to participate. Could you form sort of an alliance with other smaller clubs in your area to facilitate operational tasks? If there are a few clubs within a reasonable area with small membership then there is probably 1-2 people in each club willing to do some work. Enough of those people come together and you have a very effective group of leaders.

 If you think the home brew club is becoming a commercial drinking club, I suggest contacting the brewers in the club, and start another one. Participating in club night or the hospitality suite might be the event to bring the new group together. If you don't think your new club can pull it off, try working with another local club just to get the ball rolling.
 Start insisting the loafers pay the dues. After 3 meetings, no dues no meeting. Meetings are for members and new recruiters only.
 Try a big brew day. Contact your local home brew store and see if you can get a discount for the group if you buy all at once. Agree on a kit and each person changes the hops or yeast. This gives the club something to drink together.
 When you hear a member is doing anything out of the ordinary, ask they do a presentation about it. Be persistent and don't let get away. Find out everyone's favorite part of brewing and ask them to present about that topic. Push members to get involved. Try and have people that don't bring home brew to bring it in. Let them know you don't need to have a blichmann to brew great beer, or be all grain for that matter.
Your probably going to lose some members, but if they just drink and don't brew it's just a drinking club.
 Good luck


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