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Five Tips to Grow and Promote Your Club
by Chad Budreau (chadb@modelaircraft.org)
As seen in "View from HQ in the April 2019 issue of
Model Aviation



When I was growing up, my dad would occasionally dust off some of his model airplanes for my brothers and me to enjoy. In addition to the tedious task of cleaning out any gum in the engines and spark plugs, it was a challenge to enjoy the hobby regularly because we didn’t have access to a flying field or club.

As I became an adult, I met another modeler who renewed my interest in aeromodeling. Although I am again active in the hobby, I wonder how many other Chad Budreaus are out there with an attraction to the hobby, but no one to nurture their interests.

I believe our 2,400 clubs are critical to filling this role of nurturing newcomers to our hobby. Based on my experiences and conversations with club leaders and volunteers, I want to share five quick tips to help grow and promote your club.

1. Become involved in your community. Communities should not be only vaguely aware of your model aviation flying field. Educate law enforcement and legislators about the benefits of the hobby to counter the negative news. Create a field trip to your club with a local Girl or Boy Scout troop. Invite emergency responders who have an interest in using drones to your flying field. Use National Model Aviation Day to celebrate the hobby and raise money for a good cause.

When you hold these events, invite the media or take photos and submit a story. If your club gains some media exposure, let us know. AMA might even pay you (https://modelaircraft.org/club-recognition-program)!

This exposure not only earns your club goodwill in the eyes of key movers and shakers in the community, but exposes your hobby to potential new hobbyists who want to learn more about model aviation.

2. Brand your club. You don’t need a comprehensive 20-point marketing plan to brand your club. Add a simple sign outside of your flying site that announces who you are and explains to guests how they can learn more. (Shameless plug: Contact AMA Custom Services to print an affordable vinyl sign that you can mount on a fence by calling [765] 287-1256, extension 507.)

Clubs often work with a vendor, allowing members to buy a shirt promoting the club. Although shirts are great, I’ve learned that hats are sometimes more effective. They are at eye level, gain more attention, are practical, and are often less expensive.

3. Go online. Although a website is nice, an equally effective tool is social media—not to mention it’s free. In addition, AMA pro-vides each club with a web presence that can be used by the club. When you search and find your club on www.modelaircraft. org, the club is assigned a unique URL using the following format: www.modelaircraft.org/club/your-club-name.

4. Delegate. Clubs often have a superman or superwoman who takes on most of the work. This is unfair to the volunteer and to the club. Get to know your club members’ interests and assign roles accordingly. Assign two or three members to manage the social media page, ask a member to get pricing on hats or signs, and make sure you have a few trainers and introductory pilots on hand. There will always be a percentage of members who will not be engaged, but to have a successful club you cannot rely on just one or two people.

5. Welcome guests and new members. First impressions are important. Don’t let anyone walk onto your field for more than a couple minutes without a warm welcome. Have a training program in place and take advantage of AMA’s Introductory Pilot Program. AMA will also pay your club to develop a program to introduce your com-munity to aeromodeling (www.amaflightschool.org/sites/defau lt/f iles/TAGProgramIntroLetter.pdf).

Celebrate new members who join. Introduce new members during your next meeting, on social media, and in your news-letter. Not only will they feel more excited about the club, but it will boost the morale of your existing club members.

These are a few quick suggestions to grow your club and our hobby. We at AMA Headquarters are realigning our staff to provide more club support. If you have tips that we should share with other clubs or need help, please send me an email at chadb@modelaircraft.org or contact Ilona Maine at ilonam@modelaircraft.org.

Happy flying.

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