I apologize for this being so long. But I have been thinking about this along side the other post about why anyone other than white males don’t enter beers in competitions.
You want to grow membership? Three suggestions:
1) Quit running the organization like a woke trade group. Run it like a motorcycle gang. IOW run decentralized local chapters vs a centralized organization. (Example: the Army Aviation Alumni Association (AAAA https://www.quad-a.org/
)). Not just a homebrew club that may or may not be a member of AHA but local chapters of a national organization. People want to belong to a local group of like minded individuals that share interests. Maybe a club can become a chapter or maybe several clubs make up a chapter. Maybe some clubs that make up a chapter will be all women, or Hispanic, or LGBQ… or just some members will be. Who cares. Quit focusing on the who and start focusing on the what.
2) Visit chapters. Snap photos. Publish them. It doesn’t have to be a forced event but when a member of leadership happens to be in an area and stops by a brewery for a beer tell some freakin body so they can meet and greet. Give the 2 minute elevator speech about where we’re headed and offer a toast. 30 minutes to an hour of management by walking around can do wonders to an organization.
3) Quit snubbing current membership. Find out where the membership is and meet them where they are. Quit with the excuses of the South can’t serve homebrew to the public. BS. We did it in Huntspatch and y’all were about to in Nastyville. Need nightlife, hotels, restaurants? Have you been to Knoxville, Atlanta, Asheville, Charleston, etc? Just quit with the excuses.
When I first started brewing beer in the 90(s) it was because I enjoy making stuff myself. I smoke meat, bake bread, cure bacon, garden, etc, etc. I wasn’t interested in sending my beer off to the county fair to have it judged against my neighbors to see who likes my beer. My satisfaction comes from combining raw ingredients into something I like to drink. That’s your target. Quit forcing diversity and find people. Not a certain gender. Not a certain color. Just people. People who like to make stuff. That target audience will naturally be diverse. Quit forcing it.
I had no idea there was a homebrew association back then. I later joined the AHA for a few years but was quickly turned off by the cost benefit analysis. As I said I don’t compete and it wasn’t worth me sending money to get a magazine full of advertisements for the latest shiny object, lists of competitors I don’t know, far off competitions, and endorsements and articles by celebrity homebrewers to add to the stack of other magazines in the bathroom. So I let my membership lapse years ago. The magazine and exclusive web access aren’t worth it to me.
Besides the negative cost benefit of membership, another reason I let my membership lapse is because of the big show put on every year on the West Coast, North, and N East Coast. The guys here have heard it before and I imagine they’re standing by with their ready made excuses. The fact is: Everyone is diligently working to try to grow the organization by including diverse groups while simultaneously ignoring the fact that over 25% of the current membership in the organization is based in the South yet hasn’t had a presence there in over a decade. Let that sink in.
A few years ago, the former grand poobah visited Nashville to set up the show there. Imagine that. All the excuses of why the show can’t come to the South were BS. Still are. Unfortunately, that show was cxl due to Covid. The show must go on so it’s back on the West Coast. Y’all have fun!
Turns out, during that visit, the grand poobah made a whistle stop in Huntsville. Did he let anyone know he was in town? Nope. No AHA affiliated homebrew club came out to meet him. No announcement on AHA forum for a meet and greet. No one knew. Nada. He stopped by a local brewery drank a beer and snapped a photo with Keith. That’s how the local AHA members found out he was here. After the fact. What a wasted opportunity to touch base with local members that have been snubbed for over a decade. That photo could have been a few local homebrewers hoisting a glass at that brewery. It could have been put in the magazine, here on the forum, and on the local clubs’ webpages. More beer sold for the brewery, membership getting a chance to rub elbows with the chief, photo op for the clubs and AHA. Win-win-win. But no. The opportunity was squandered. Once again a snub to the members in the South.
And finally; We had a little fundraiser a while back. Local homebrewers brought donated, untaxed, homebrewed beer so the sponsor could sell a taster glass to the public to try the beer. A cpl clubs came with a few members each. Here’s the thing: the ‘unaffiliated’ tent had more homebrewers under it than one of the clubs and was on par with the other. No one asked who anybody slept with, no one noticed what color the homebrewers or tasters were, no one asked what pronouns were used. No one cares. In the Deep South. We cared about coming together as homebrewers and the public to raise money for a cause. It was a naturally diverse group.
I was in the Army 21 yrs. The Army set up a framework to allow people from all walks of life to volunteer. I didn’t care who the soldier was next to me. I didn’t care what color they were, what sex they were, or what they did on their off time in their bedroom. What I cared about was performance. Can they do the job they were trained to do. Can they complete the mission. I have many brothers and sisters I love and respect from all races, ethnic groups, genders, etc. That stuff just doesn’t matter.
The point: quit focusing on the who and start focusing on the what. Set up a framework so diversity can happen naturally. Quit forcing it.