An open house can pique the curiosity of potential buyers. The same kind of event can boost your club’s recruiting efforts. Richard Smith, a past district governor in Oregon, said an open house is a great way to get people in the door, as long as you give guests a reason to attend. “The hardest point of planning is deciding what specifically would get people to come,” Smith said. “The open house is a way of informing people and making them aware of what we do and how we improve the quality of life in our community.” The retired superintendent of schools knows that people have less time these days and need to be compelled to attend. For example, if you’d like to recruit younger Lions, perhaps an event that is attractive to children will bring their parents along as well. Smith said one of the most successful open house-style events has been a Harvest Festival held around Halloween. While kids enjoyed games, prizes and candy, each parent walked past several tables about local Lions clubs and what they do for the community. “People are reluctant to come to something just to hear someone drone on about what it’s like to be a Lion,” Smith said. “You have to provide an incentive for people to give up their time.” Smith said open house events can range from a potluck dinner with an invited speaker to a wine tasting and take about three months to plan. Other ideas include hosting a forum or getting your local Leos, service organization or Boy Scouts involved by having a musical event or demonstration. “It’s really dependent on what the club wants to do. It’s an opportunity to be creative in how you get people to attend,” Smith said. Likewise, the costs will vary depending on how elaborate of an open house a club wants to host. Smith said for a successful open house, you should invite about 50 people because about half will attend. Mail out invitations two to three weeks in advance. “If we don’t get a response, because we do ask for an RSVP, we call them maybe a few days out. You give them a second invitation if they don’t respond,” Smith said. Once in the door, make sure your guests get a friendly welcome and you have information about both your club and Lions Clubs International. “We invite them to a club meeting and usually the invitation includes paying for their lunch,” Smith said. “We provide them with a membership application if they’re interested. Provide them with all the information that informs them about what Lions is all about and what you do for the community.”
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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