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How can we attract and retain members?
Dave VE3WI pointed out the following article on

How can ham radio clubs attract and retain members in 2023?

The news that Paul VE3PQ has left the club because (reportedly) he "no longer finds GBARC interesting" shocked me deeply. As GBARC President for the past 2 years I took that revelation very personally. If we summarily dismiss such warning signs we risk losing more members.

The covid situation stopped us from being very active for 2 years, but now we should be scrambling to fix that. I particularly liked one comment on the

"They have to enjoy radio more then Roberts rules. Really they have to enjoy playing radio, and if the club isn’t getting out and doing radio things why even be there. You have to have fun little events. Like a Friday night club QRP POTA . Or a Friday or Saturday night rabbit hunt extravaganza that covers the region. The last hunt of the night leads to a barbecue. But a club has to get out and play radio for fun. Just like a car club gets out and has car fun. Rod runs, poker runs, Dino nights. we have to get out and have radio fun together."

GBARC has become very good at the social aspects of club membership but we have sunk into the doldrums when it comes to hands-on radio activity. Our 2022 ARRL Field Day was a prime example. Would visitors be attracted to the hobby by a group of us sitting around in lawn chairs with no radios in sight? Or would it have been better if we had set up multiple demonstration stations illustrating different aspects of the hobby?

We need to have a conversation about this; but not just a conversation, we have to get motivated and get actively working to turn things around. Maybe drop the PowerPoint presentations and start monthly practical exercises at our meetings. We now have a club radio, let's get it on the air at meetings and learn what we can do with it. Then when the weather gets warmer, do it outside and invite visitors.

Paul VE3PQ is right; the club has become less interesting and I accept part of the blame for that. Now let's hear your ideas.
Here's a great video how to attract new members into the club and to reach out to other groups with similar interest.
So Gentlemen, I think we have a great club formed by a great set of amazing minds and personalities.  I can't find anything I like on TV because it lacks the sophistication my brain craves.  I walk into GBARC and we have engineers and technology-oriented people from every discipline.  I could not ask for more.  The more I get to know you one-on-one, the more grateful I am.

I am sorry Paul has left us.  I have been out to his place a few times and was so impressed with hi satellite setup, I wanted to leave that open as an option for me down the road. When I bought my IC-9700,  did everything I could to connect with Paul to no avail.

I feel a bit bad for myself at the moment because my tongue surgery has taken longer to heal than I anticipated, but I have heard the journey can be up to 5 years.  In the mean time, I put my time in, spend money and embrace our fellowship with the same enthusiasm today as I did in 2020, or even 1964 when I was first introduced.

I just glanced over this subject with John a while back through email, but I did not go into any details with him.  From a conversation Richard and I were having last fall, I gathered out in the country DMR was a popular option.  Richard and I talked about APRS, new people entering our hobby, and minimizing our expenses.

It is my opinion if we opened up VE3OSR to the digital world, we might have an oppurtunity to capture new members coming up into our retirement community, plus open up new technologies to experiment with at the club level.  I don't know if it would be DMR, D-Star or Fusion, but I think we could make a decision and give it a trial for one year.

Roger's is 'HAM friendly' by tradition.  We would need a Roger's Internet hub which would give our repeater Internet access using cellular.  It might cost $50 or $60 a month, but in my opinion it would be worth the try because it would be something new and it might open a few doors.
I originally just emailed the Exec about the article.  Here's a link for anyone who wants to see the video & the accompanying comments. No login required.

John posted a quote from one of the comments.  I think it hits the nail on the head: "They have to enjoy radio more then Roberts rules. Really they have to enjoy playing radio, and if the club isn’t getting out and doing radio things why even be there. You have to have fun little events...."

I think we should work on creating some "fun little radio events".  Maybe we can start collecting ideas, e.g. things we can do indoors (for winter), and some where we need to be outdoors (for summer).  Thoughts?

Also I think it might be instructive if the Exec contacted the other former members who haven't renewed and discuss why GBARC is no longer attractive to them, and what we might do to change that.

The reality is that no matter how hard we try, there will always be a small core of active members taking leadership roles in our activities, and a larger group of members who are more comfortable with passive roles.  That's the way it is in most clubs.  I've talked to lots of club execs while helping to staff the RAC booth at Dayton, and large or small club, they all say much the same thing.  But, if we work hard at holding "fun little radio events" we may be able to swell the ranks of active members though.  

Dave, VE3WI
Here are some ideas for things we can do both indoors and outdoors:
  1. Antenna building classes: dipoles, End-Fed Half-Waves, ground planes for VHF and HF, full wave loops, small magnetic loops
  2. Builder projects: antenna tuners, test equipment
  3. Operating our club HF rig - learning the controls; how and when to use RIT, XIT, AGC, RF gain, IF shift. Transmit into a dummy load or find a way to route a coax to an outdoor antenna - or use a magnetic loop indoors. Explore digital modes; learn techniques for handling pile-ups on SSB
  4. Demonstrations of ham radio to our indigenous hosts

  1. Parks On The Air (POTA) activations as a club station, using a club callsign at local POTA entities such as the Bruce Trail in Harrison Park, Arboretum, Hibou Conservation Area.
  2. DX hunting
  3. Fox hunting equipment and demonstrations
  4. Public service demonstrations
John, I like your ideas.  I am especially interested if we could get the Native community involved.  Now that we have a GOTA, how much more would it be as an effort or expense to get set up at the community centre with a small, unobtrusive HF antenna?

I know you are not crazy over DMR and I would abandon all plans and redact previous posts if we leaned towards HF and the native community.

Great idea, wow!

Thanks Rob. Yes I don't suppose I will ever get into DMR etc myself but if there are sufficient club members wanting it I won't stand in the way. I have known several hams who got involved with it. The allure was always being able to contact DX stations over an IP connection rather than high fidelity repeater audio. I can't see it improving utilization of our repeaters. Digital multiplexing to reduce bandwidth is only a benefit when repeaters are busy.

Will digital radios attract youth to the hobby? Kids' smart phones can do so much more than a DMR radio and no exams have to be passed to use a phone, so I doubt it.

I don't know whether the M'Wikwedong community will be interested in ham radio but it is certainly worth finding out. We may even recruit some new members among the Indigenous youth. I know JOTA has been successful with the scouts and the ISS school contacts are also very popular. Kids can talk to astronauts in space using just a $50 Baofeng.
I'm glad the QRZ article is provoking lots of discussion. 

John listed some good ideas.  Building on those:

1. Antennas:  build a 2m ground plane with copper wire & SO-239.  It can be done inside.  Figure out how long to make the elements, assemble the ant., use an analyzer to trim it for resonance for OSR, take it outside with a HH and make a repeater contact.

3. Operating:  how about an Echolink demo?  I bet some of the members have not used Echolink.  We can do that inside, with a laptop & the venue's WIFI, or maybe they would let us run temporary coax to an outside ant. and use OSR's Echolink.

Either of these could also be demos to our indigenous hosts if they're interested.

Dave, VE3WI

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