How to Build a Successful Chapter

Mike484

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When I first started to visit Chapter 62, it was not at all what I expected out of a gyro club. There was only one gyro under a sheet and one in parts. Only a couple of times I actually got to se a gyro fly, when someone flew in to visit. We met once a month, had the chapter meeting, went to lunch, then went home. Very stagnate, almost dead.

Now we have activity every weekend at the hangar. Last week I counted 20 gyros in our hangars, two of them were flying and four of them were being worked on. We have an annual fly-in that has been very successful. We have hosted almost every make and model gyro at our hangars at one time or another. We have a workshop that is equipped with all you need to build just about any part you want.

I have been asked many times about what we did to build our chapter and make it successful. I have put together a list of what we have done and what I believe you need to become active and successful. If you have any ideas you would like to add, please do so, it may help an up and coming chapter some day.


First, contact the PRA and form an official PRA sanctioned chapter. Use them for information and to help you promote your chapter.

1. The chapter must have a home, preferably at an airport. Rent a hangar and make it the Chapters home, hold all of the club meetings there.
2. Get gyros into the mix; that is what people come to you for. They don’t have to be flying as long as they are gyros and there’s some activity like building or modifying. Offer a discounted rental fee for gyros (a “shared” portion of the hangar rent)
3. Ask for a chapter forum on the Rotary Wing Forum and start posting your news on it. But consider this: the forum is primarily used by just a portion of the gyro community, it may seem large but it isn’t, don’t use it for your primary form of getting the word out.
4. Start a newsletter or join/start a regional newsletter, let others know your there and what’s going on, may not seem like much to you but anything is important to people looking for others that share the same interests. Get onto the national distribution; it goes out to over 3,000 gyro enthusiasts.
5. Collect as many gyro books, videos, or anything else gyro related for the membership to use. Promote education, safety, and training.
6. Serve lunch at the meetings, it keeps people hanging around longer, if they leave to go eat lunch, many won’t return.
7. Get some shirts made to advertise your chapter; it’s amazing how you can find people just by wearing a shirt. Printing up business cards with contact information also helps.
8. If you have someone in the group who is computer savvy, start a web site. If you don’t have the resources for a website, start a FaceBook page, it doesn’t hurt to start one even if you do have a website; social networking is very popular today.
9. Travel around to other chapters and fly-ins (don’t restrict yourself to gyro events only), meet others and let them know who you are, where you’re at, and what you’re doing. Bringing a gyro to events (even if it’s trailered in and is on static display) is your best advertisement.
10. Have tools, equipment, materials, etc. available for members to use. If you have a shared hangar, have each person contribute, it will save everyone a lot of money.
11. Having a CFI available is a big plus, you may not have one close, but try to find one that will make appearances at the club home (better yet, get him/her to join your chapter) and will work to help the club with your training needs.
12. Hold a fly-in or any type of event, get people out to your location; word of mouth is great advertisement.
 

thomasant

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Very good points, Mike.

Also having visitors watching members building gyros, fabricating parts, and actually going for a ride goes a long way in promoting the sport.
 

Mike484

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Yes Tony, having some two place machines in the club and being able to give rides to visitors is a huge plus and is probably the number one way to get the chapter new members.
 

All_In

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Hi Mike

Excellent post!

This should also be a blog on PRA's forum?
 

Vance

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I feel an important element for a successful PRA chapter is an enthusiastic and skilled leader.

Chapter 62 seems blessed with that.

Good job Mike!

Thank you, Vance
 

Mike484

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I feel an important element for a successful PRA chapter is an enthusiastic and skilled leader.

Chapter 62 seems blessed with that.

Good job Mike!

Thank you, Vance
Thanks Vance.

Just like any other organization, 10% of the organization does 90% of the work and the other 90% does 10% of the work. Volunteers and leaders are very hard to come by.
 
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PW_Plack

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Mike, I once made a list after looking at other successful chapters. One thing in common among most chapters successful over the long term is an association with a gyro-related business. 26 has RFD, 18 has Tom, 73 has Jim Vanek. The Seattle chapter folded almost immediately when the GBA dealer there folded.

A shared hangar is also a biggie. A regular meeting place and time helps. Above all, newcomers need to know they can show up at the scheduled time and see gyros fly!
 
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