September 16, 2011,
E.M. asks from Chicago, IL on September 16, 2011
Increasing Participation in Our Moms Group
I am the president of a local Moms Club. The club encompasses a large geographical area and we have about 75 members. However, only a core group of about 20 regularly participate, and when they do, it is mainly playgroup, field trips and our 2 annual family special events. Our MNO, monthly meetings, game night, book club, fitness, and philanthropic activities are not as well attended.
I have heard that many new members are hesitant to attend events b/c they don't know anyone. Of course, they will never get to know anyone if they never attend events! I want to also mention that our core members are friendly and welcoming. We are not a cliquey group.
Anyone out there a part of a successful Moms Club that can provide some tips, insight or thoughts on how to increase participation?
H.M. answers from San Diego on September 16, 2011
I had the same thought as the first poster... every once in a while, host a new member meet and greet. Do it pot luck style, food seems to give people something to talk about. I think when people know that other newbies will be there, then it won't be hard trying to fit into an already established group.
L.R. answers from Washington DC on September 16, 2011
Is is possible that your group is over-extended and therefore competing with too much of what's already in people's lives from other groups?
There are other book clubs, PTA groups that do local philanthropy, fitness clubs people are already members of...You could consider paring down what the Moms Club's real priorities are and just cutting out activities that are not well attended, putting the focus back on what is: playgroup, field trips and the special events. Focus more on getting the best turnout and best activities for those events. Maybe do a survey of members and ask what they really want from the group and what they honestly wouldn't attend or would attend very seldom.
If you have to keep all these activities, another tactic could be creating sub-groups and giving them a fresh start. You might break out sub-groups like "Fitness Walking Moms" or "Moms Giving Back" (philanthropic) and then "relaunch" those as sub-groups with a re-start meeting, so newer folks or folks who aren't participating often feel they can come out to the information night for the sub-group and they aren't walking into a meeting where everyone knows everyone and the activity has been going forever so their input isn't really needed.
Not sure if that works with your group's model or not. but it might help. I wish my gym would "relaunch" or restart its ongoing fitness classes periodically so those of us who haven't been going to a specific class feel we can walk in and not be the odd one out in a group that's been getting together for ages. That's why I think a relaunch of new sub-groups might get some folks out who have hesitated to come.
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S.L. answers from Chicago on September 16, 2011
So your members primiarily attend the events in which you bring children -- not the "Mom's Night Out" events. I think this is extremely common, especially when you have infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Those are the times you're dying to find new and interesting things to do with your kids, and get out of the house with them. But once the kids go to bed, then I'm on "my time" and protect that time vigorously. I attend to my hobbies, do things around the house, etc. I'm not, necessarily, looking for a new social group (I neglect my current friends a lot already!) I'm sure this has nothing to do with the quality of your group or with your leadership...it's just that we all have such a tiny amount of time for ourselves and we have to portion it wisely.
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A.V. answers from Washington DC on September 16, 2011
Consider a new mom's outing hosted by a long time member.
I don't know what your focus is, but we have associate organizers on our Meet Up group and the associates schedule events all over the county. There is no division, but people tend to attend what's close to them. Also, have things at different times and at different prices. I go to a museum with a kids' club and kid area that's only $4 admission once a month. I also do Meet Ups at parks, or libraries. If there is a local story time or kid event (wherever it is - Pottery Barn Kids, library, community center), someone who is already going should invite the group to come. That gives parents who are shy an event to focus on that is not heavy-duty interaction.
There will ALWAYS be those that sign up and never attend. And there will be those that only attend certain events. But try to mix it up a little and encourage others to suggest events or host their own for the group.
We also have Mom's Night out once every couple of months, where we ditch the sneakers and go out for the night as a group for dinner or drinks or an art exhibit. Ask them what prevents them from attending the MNO and see if maybe a lunch date would be easier for some of them or coffee on a Saturday afternoon.
The Meet Up format also allows us to easily schedule, reschedule RSVP, see the calendar and communicate with members so if your current format doesn't allow for a lot of chatter (we have a discussion board, too) between people, and easy access to event info, consider changing it up. If you want an inexpensive website, consider Weebly. You can use Google for your calendar and Nabble for your forum.
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L.A. answers from New York on September 16, 2011
Consider titling some events - "meet and greet" or "open house" that might make them more appealing for the peripheral members. Maybe you could even send a questionaire to all members asking, what you are doing well, what they like, what they dislike, what you might do to drum up more attendance, and what sorts of events/ activities they would like to see, and whether you are communicating effectively. The feedback might be your best avenue for improvement.
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H.D. answers from Dallas on September 16, 2011
You get 20 people reguarly?? Wow, that seems successful to me! However, you say it encompasses a large geographical area so maybe that could be the problem. Are you asking many members to travel too far for activities? Maybe the times you are holding activities could be the issue?? Does your Moms Club have a blog or online calendar that they can participate on and view all upcoming activities? If not, that might help with communication to find out from everyone the reasons why they show vs why they don't. Maybe some moms need help finding babysitters to be able to participate more so a "babysitter directory" may be helpful as well. GL!!
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B.A. answers from Chicago on September 16, 2011
I will tell you why I don't attend, only attended 2 meetings. I felt and was pretty much told by 2 moms that I didn't appear to have enough money to belong to a group that was to support and give to others. I was perfectly willing to help, but can't financially right now. But when you get that kind of welcoming committee you walk away from where you feel you are not wanted.
M.T. answers from Chicago on September 16, 2011
K.J. answers from Chicago on September 16, 2011