Increasing Chess Club Membership

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Gavin Strachan
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Increasing Chess Club Membership

Post by Gavin Strachan » Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:49 am

I hoping this is a useful area for people to post anything they did (or their club) that increased/attracted new members. Websites are very good and most clubs should get a good looking one set up. Websites that look unmanaged or a bit "rough and ready" may also detract members, so a keen webmaster is always great.

Asides from websites...anything else? :?:

Sean Hewitt

Re: Increasing Chess Club Membership

Post by Sean Hewitt » Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:58 am

Gavin Strachan wrote:I hoping this is a useful area for people to post anything they did (or their club) that increased/attracted new members. Websites are very good and most clubs should get a good looking one set up. Websites that look unmanaged or a bit "rough and ready" may also detract members, so a keen webmaster is always great.

Asides from websites...anything else? :?:
We did four things

1 - Located in a pub
2 - Created a webiste updated weekly
3 - Wrote an article for the local parish free magazine / newspaper
4 - Made sure we were friendly - each week someone was responsible to meet and greet new members, and set them up with some games

Our membership increased from about 8 or 9 players to about 35 in 3 years. Half of the new players saw us online but the other half saw us via the newspaper article. Interestingly, most of them said it was their wives that saw the article rather than them.

Mike Truran
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Re: Increasing Chess Club Membership

Post by Mike Truran » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:21 pm

Apart from 1. (Witney Chess Club are in a church hall) I agree with everything Sean says. Pubs are great for friendly/casual chess, but for league chess and kids they maybe aren't quite so good.

If I had to choose, I would say that having a good website and ALWAYS having someone to meet and greet new members are the two most important factors. If funds run to it, getting decent premises and kit also helps so that chessplayers feel they're not playing chess in a slum environment - fundraising as well as subs helps to pay for better premises and kit, but of course needs a fair bit of effort. Coaching in local schools is also a good way of 'spreading the word', although is maybe a bit labour intensive as a means of attracting juniors into the club (as opposed to just playing chess at school).

You've really got to have a couple of keen volunteers who make things happen though. None of the actions in Sean's or my posts will happen without that. That was possibly the main reason why Witney Chess Club rather fell apart in the mid-90s. Once the volunteers came back things changed again, and we are now up to around 40 adults and juniors.

Louise Sinclair
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Re: Increasing Chess Club Membership

Post by Louise Sinclair » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:53 am

without doubt a friendly atmosphere will help improve membership
Louise
You might very well think that ; I couldn't possibly comment.
' you turn if you want. The lady's not for turning'

Alan Kennedy
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Re: Increasing Chess Club Membership

Post by Alan Kennedy » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:19 pm

I responded to a similar post by Warren Kingston last year as follows:
Alan Kennedy wrote:Hi Warren - my first post to the forum! At Witney chess club we almost folded four years ago but now we are up to twenty five members and eight juniors. We have increased from one to three teams in the Oxford League and last year were second in division 1. We did the following:

1 Made a big fuss of any new member when they first arrived - this was key people found us by the directories and the web but stayed because we were friendly
2 Made sure club nights were always interesting
3 Held a junior tournament
4 Contacted all former members to tell them we were up and running
5 Started a junior section (very good because it attracts parents) but hard work.
6 Made sure that we had a library - so beginners and improvers could learn quickly. The books by Tim Onions in the starting out section were ideal for juniors and parents alike as were the worksheets from chesskids. We would also send links to all the good websites for new members including chess cube and Exeter chess club (ideal for coaching)
7 Held social events so that the wives could be involved as well. There was a quiz night and the end of season dinner - good fun.
8 If a good player turned up we made sure that our first team players were on hand to give him good games
9 Organised blitz tournaments and evenings with the local grandmaster,
10 We were superbly supported by Mike Truran who came to coach the club almost every week - even though he outgraded us by more than 70 points (thanks Mike)
11 Sent out regular newsletters so people felt included
12 Linked up with and merged with other village clubs - played matches against them and included them in our teams - this helped alot in the early days when we struggled to get players.
13 Set up a strong committee - that was key that we shared the load.
14 Organised local sponsorship - the local computer shop paid us 10% of all gross profits on the purchase of laptops and other computer kit. It helped with the finances.

the result Witney chess club is a very good place to play chess! It took a lot of hard work but was worth it. Hope you do well.
Hope that is useful. Quite a few of the members came via the junior tournament and since posting the above we are now up to four teams on the Oxford League. It is not rocket science merely hard but rewarding work.

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