Re: How to increase membership, community participation, and revenue
Short term (immediately to one month)
- Investigate hiring a marketing consultant to develop a Marketing Plan.
- Clear any unused equipment such as the Bingo Machine from the public spaces.
- Contact the Charity Casino of Thunder Bay, Royal Canadian Legion, Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Elks regarding joint events at the large LOWB Family Centre.
- Contact the former Knights of Columbus to see if they would like to use the hall for meeting and partner with the LOWB on events such as the Fish Fry.
Medium term (one month to three months)
- Create an Internet presence including a web site and social media.
- Investigate innovative ways to attract younger members, such as a Photo Contest on the Internet that uses “Likes & Shares.”
- Use venues like School, Library and other bulletin boards to offer discounted rental rates to other non-profit organizations and student groups at the LOWB Centre
- Offer discounted rates to local business groups and individuals in exchange for help cleaning and refurbishing the LOWB Centre
Long Term (Including Annual Events)
- Develop Annual Events such as a 4th of July Picnic & a Winter Holiday Party
- Look for ideas, grants and funding to find better uses for the property some ideas might be:
- A Park.
- Sports Field
- Community Garden
- Combination Uses
LOWB Family Centre has a hard time competing and gaining members and or volunteers, because they do not give people a reason to join and participate. The facilities are old and outdated and there are not enough family events.
There are no promotional efforts and no money to advertise in commercial venues. No one is promoting in the free or low cost media alternatives like newsletters, activity boards, community calendars, parades or other inexpensive media alternatives. Word of mouth is great, but a media strategy is needed to reach out and get the right people talking! Students may be willing to donate their expertise in creating graphics, websites or other promotional media, that would help with Family Centre promotions. A weekly play date scheduled in the hall would get parents spreading the word.
The Family Centre would rent out part to local businesses and create a reliable and continuous income stream if cleared out. Part of the income from the large hall that can hold 250 people, the small hall that can accommodate 85 people, and social quarters for 100 people should be used to update the facilities. Currently, outside rentals are available at a cost of $200 - $350 for the large hall, and $50 - $100 for the small hall, with the rental fee waived if the LOWB Bar is used. In the Community hall rental demand is high for special events. These halls are not rented very often because they are the least aesthetics appealing. The bingo equipment that is still up even though bingos are no longer held there reinforces the impression that this is a club for older men. The dated décor could be retro if it were freshly scrubbed and painted. The dark atmosphere may be appropriate for some events, but additional lighting is needed for others.
Waiving the rental fee for people who pay to drink reinforces the impression that this is a club for older men. There are a variety of activities or events, such as car washes, town wide parent and school events, blood drives and charity fundraisers that would change that image if partnerships are established.
the LOWB Family Centre is an international and local organization and this is the largest property ownership in the city, compared to other clubs in Thunder Bay the LOWB has a responsibility to use it to help the community. That means getting out there and finding out what the Community needs. At the present time the nonprofit groups have been competing with each other and the Knights of Columbus have already fallen. The LOWB is in the unique position to become a unifying force and the central hub of activity - - - If the land is developed and used properly.
Since the land surrounding the site parking area is large enough to develop and offer year-round family activities this would be a perfect opportunity to form community partnerships. Ideas already considered including; the park and ice skating rink, a winter carnival with a snowman making contests, skating and hot chocolate treats need to be shared and additional suggestions requested. Nothing energized a community, or an individual as much as having someone ask their opinion, especially if it is valued and put into operation. This alone will increase membership because people will want to have a voice in, and be a part of the improvements.
If there are not volunteers available to work, when the halls are rented out people should be hired. Volunteer job descriptions need to be designed advertisements to fill these positions need to be done in advance so as to be prepared for rental opportunities, should they become available. Discounts can be given to people and organizations that help fill staffing and volunteer positions.
The LOWB Family Centre has the potential to serve and unite the community. The current economic recession, and the resulting competition between nonprofit ventures with similar offerings, has already taken out the Knights of Columbus. This is sad to see when what the community need is more service groups not less, and they need to work together. The LOWB
Family Centre with its large property holdings is in a position to do this, if they are extremely strategic with their use of assets. First, they need to clean up the property. Then they need to turn their image around to attract the membership to engage in the challenges and opportunities now presenting and in the future. This will create a nonprofit group with the facilities and activities, to meet the needs of members, their families and the community both now and in the future.