Chapter Resources

Membership Recruitment Tips

Membership Recruitment and Marketing

Membership is the lifeblood of any association, and your chapter is no exception. As such, one of the most important tasks a chapter can undertake is recruiting new members. GCSAA has compiled a list of ideas and suggestions that may be of service.

Developing a Membership Marketing or Recruitment Campaign

While membership recruitment and marketing is not an exact science, here are some ideas from GCSAA, the American Society for Training & Development and the Independent Electrical Contractors Council.

  • Develop your goals – Ask yourself the following questions:
    • Why does our chapter want to conduct a campaign?
    • How many viable prospects are in my territory?
    • What is the number of members I need to bring in to offset the cost of the campaign?
    • Develop marketing plans that are data-driven. You will want to have quantifiable results that can be tracked.
    • Track the return on investment (ROI). It helps you budget for marketing campaigns, to track what recruitment methods are most effective, and to track how much time you need to optimize marketing.
    • How much time do I (or others) have to devote to member recruitment?
    • Conduct a strategic planning session and evaluate the biggest areas of membership growth opportunity.
    • Develop a detailed budget that includes costs for design and development of campaign pieces, volunteer time, postage, printing, etc.
    • According to the Direct Marketing Association, most industry specific campaigns average around a 2.61% gain. Set a realistic goal.
  • Cull your prospect list – Try not to begin your campaign with an unmanageable number of prospects. Break your list into small groups that will allow you and your volunteers time to follow up. Here are some ideas:
    • Start big – Send the first mailing to all of your potential prospects. Base follow-up communications on responses received.
    • Divide your list into small groups by identifying the “low hanging fruit” or golf courses you already have had contact with. Ask board members or volunteers for recommendations, or go through the list with them and find the easier prospects.
    • Maintain a current list of prospective members and periodically send them notices about upcoming events, new features on the website, etc.
    • Identify a group of members who are willing to contact nonmember facilities and arrange visits with the golf course superintendent to discuss what the chapter offers and get better acquainted with the golf course superintendent. An alternative is to invite prospective members to a member’s golf course to play golf and tour the facility.
  • The power of “7”
    • Simply stated, people need to see your message at least seven times before they will act on it. Only sending one recruitment mailer is a waste of your budget – you need to send out multiple pieces and use multiple vehicles (i.e. direct mail, fax, e-mail and the website).
  • Communication strategies
    • Keep your messages simple. If you can’t describe it in a sentence, run!
    • Use testimonials (personal stories) from your members on how they have benefited from being a chapter member.
    • Communicate the “value” – not “features” – of membership. What does the member personally gain from membership? Instead of communicating, “Through your membership, you get a magazine, have access to discussion forums, access to the website, etc.” communicate the value to your members. For example, use this communication strategy, “Through your membership, you have access to discussion forums through which you can make real-time connections with thousands of professionals who can offer ideas on solving the challenges faced at your facility.”
    • Have consistent marketing pieces with the same “family look” or association brand.
    • Post membership information on your website. Make sure it is easily found and dynamic.
  • Personalization is key – In this day and age where people are constantly bombarded with junk mail/email, try and take a more personalized approach.
    • Use a contact name on everything
    • If you have a small mailing group, use stamps. Stamped letters get more attention.
    • Send a personal handwritten note – let the potential member know that you care enough about this, and that you’ve taken time to write a note.
    • Understand the generational differences and needs among your prospective members and target messages accordingly.
    • Ask a board member to invite a prospective member to lunch.
    • Allow prospective members to attend a meeting so they can experience the chapter. Waive the meeting fee. Offer them a “trial membership.” Introduce them at the meeting.
    • Encourage allied members to recruit members. Supply them with information on the benefits of chapter membership that they can distribute during facility visits.
    • Send a news release to the local media when a new member joins your chapter. Provide photographs when available.
  • Ask for a response! If you don’t ask prospective members to do something, they won’t. Have a call to action. Try and engage prospective members in the process by asking for some sort of response or feedback. You could:
    • Offer a trial newsletter subscription. Ask prospective members to complete a reply card in order to receive the trial subscription.
    • Invite them to a complimentary function and require an RSVP.
  • Membership Application – Make your membership application an important part of your chapter’s marketing campaign. It should:
    • Be a stand-alone piece that restates one to three key benefits of joining the chapter
    • Have a key code, so that the chapter can track the source of the new membership (i.e. a particular direct mail)
    • Capture the potential member’s hobbies, interests and skills if possible. This information could be used at a later date to match up potential volunteer duties.

How can GCSAA support you?



The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America is dedicated to serving its members,
advancing their profession, and enhancing the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf.

© 1996 - 2013 GCSAA - Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
1421 Research Park Drive, Lawrence, KS 66049-3859
Tel. 800-472-7878 or 785-841-2240