Port Manatee Club (Florida)
Rebuilding for the Future
When first chartered in 2005, the Port Manatee Club quickly established itself throughout the area. As the club aged and business declined during the economic slowdown, the club’s membership dwindled to 30 members. Although the leadership was able to maintain the club’s basic operations and charitable activities, the club’s growth was stifled, and membership stagnated.
After their election in 2018, the new board looked at the club’s membership and reached out for answers to several key questions:
- If you were a member in the past, why don’t you participate anymore?
- What would make attendance at the monthly meeting more attractive?
- What value do you think the club provides and how can it be a bigger value?
- What charitable activities do you think the club should be active in?
Once these basic questions were answered, the club’s officers and board members reached out to former members to reinvigorate their interest. Issues raised by the club’s outreach were addressed and several changes were implemented to make attendance a better experience. Some of these included;
- Providing a greater networking opportunity for the club’s members
- Allowing for meeting sponsorship to enhance the members experience at the event
- Changing meeting locations
- Expanding the pool of speakers to address a wide range of topics and interests
- Strengthening communications and outreach by using a variety of methods including telephone, email and other online media.
The club also worked diligently to establish its place within the community. The club’s charitable fundraising was highlighted on event flyers and media outreach. By attending local port authority meetings, the club’s leadership highlighted the club’s value to both the maritime and local community.
The main element which made the Port Manatee chapter successful is the opportunity for fresh ideas resulting from the club recent growth. New members mean new ideas, which gives these members a larger ownership in the club.
When the club initiated its membership drive, the board set an initial goal of doubling membership within the first year. Bringing former members back was relatively easy, but the real success is through developing a culture where membership in the club means being a part of the overall port community.
Today the Port Manatee Club has over 130 members and they are building and adapting their program to meet the changing needs of their community.