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Ideas for growing Society membership
by Jeff Blackadar

During our 2009 Fall District Advisory Council meeting we discussed various ways to attract new members and retain current ones. The ideas are listed below. Are you a board member of a Society? I ask you to add to your board agenda a discussion on growing membership. Use the ideas below as a starting point. Set a goal and put a plan in place of specific ways you can grow your membership.

Do you have ideas on how to grow membership? Send them in and I'll add them here.

Jeff Blackadar

Director, District 2.


  • Bring in special speakers. Have a discounted admission price for members and higher admission for non-members.

  • Apply any visitor fee toward the membership fee if the visitor joins.

  • Encourage members to bring a friend, have a draw for new and old members.

  • Distribute brochures and flyers at community events, libraries, stores and garden centres;

  • Encourage members to invite friends, family and work colleagues to meetings, sales and shows.

  • Conduct a door to door membership drive. Deep River Horticultural Society does this and has a very high rate of membership in their village.

  • Keep in touch with members via e-mail. Most new members have e-mail. Remind them of meetings and other events so that they are encouraged to take part.

  • Have discounts for members, like at plant sales. Spending money at the plant sale = a free membership.

  • Use name tags

  • Have meeting greeters. The greeters can help give out name tags.

  • Pair new & old members.

  • Identifying new members in some way so that other members can welcome them.

  • Survey membership to see what members want – speakers, workshops etc.

  • Utilize groups such as Welcome Wagon, New Canadians etc.

  • Advertise in the local paper for new members and write articles about your speakers.

  • Have various contests such as photography and award prizes; free membership etc.

  • Allow new members to sign up at your plant sales and other events. Never refuse a membership due to a lack of forms or the time of year. Get the new member signed up right away.

  • At Society plant sales, have a flyer ready to give to the public with each sale.

  • Inform guests how to sign up as new members at each meeting, they may not be aware.

  • Make sure new members get an introduction letter telling them about the Society and inviting them to get involved. New members who feel welcome and know what's going on are more likely to renew. Invite new members to help at your plant sales, they are one of the best places to meet other members.

  • Send an e-mail or letter to lapsed members – they may want to rejoin.

  • Find out what discounts you have with local garden centres. Make your members aware of them, list the discounts on the back of your membership cards.

  • Have a half year membership.

  • Buy a new membership, give the membership amount back in free plants.

  • Interest photographers from other clubs in the photography competitions

Make the growth of membership a priority. Put together a plan, follow it up and you will see your Society membership grow!

I have one thing to add to your list that my society (Gilford & District) has done for the last few years.

After each member pays their dues and receives their membership card, they are given two or three guest passes for meetings to hand out. These tell when our meetings are held and there is a spot on the back for the member handing it out to add their name and any additional information.

I keep mine in my wallet and several times have started talking to someone new in town or at the grocery store that is interested in gardening so I invite them to a meeting and give them a pass.

If you think about it, a stranger is more apt to attend and feel welcome at a meeting if they can come in the front door and show their personal invitation which is the pass. We then put this person with another member to show them around and make them feel at home.

Other societies in our district have started doing this too and we all find it successful.


Judith Rogers, Lavender Cottage

Director, OHA District 16
Master Gardener
Member of the Garden Writers Association



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Last Updated: 2018-06-04