Attendance Myths That are Holding Back Your Chapter

Attendance Myths That are Holding Back Your Chapter

You have planned your monthly meeting, followed your usual promotional routine, and you show up to find only a handful of attendees. What happened? Why is attendance low, dropping, or staying the same? Often chapter leadership speculates with undisputed myths as to why this happens. We advise you to dispute them.  Let’s explore these myths.

Myth One: Our chapter is located in a rural area and people won’t travel.

Truthfully, this one should be easily dismissed. Your members want to attend, otherwise why would they have joined your association chapter. Yes, of course, there are some people that won’t travel, but this is not common. Your members have joined for professional development, for networking opportunities, or for another value that your chapter offers specifically. Likely there are alternate reasons keeping your members away from the monthly meeting, including lack of quality speakers, transportation issues, sudden emergencies, or any number of other reasons that are as unique as each of your members.

Myth Two: Members cannot afford to pay for meeting registrations.

While it is possible that the price point might need some adjustment, people assume greater value when the price is indicative of their perceived value. When your members join, they know the cost of membership and event registrations. Additionally, many chapters have built in discount options, sales, student prices, and options for low-income members. There is always a way around costs. The real question is the value being offered. If members feel they can get value out of the content presented or benefit from the activity, then the cost won’t make a difference.

Myth Three: The younger generation would rather stick to virtual meetings than in-person.

Yes, the younger generation is more tech savvy and exists in the social media realm more than the older generation, but they want the same value from membership as any other member. This includes solid presentations and in-person networking. All your members can benefit from the skills that attendance provides. It is quite likely that the problem isn’t about in-person versus virtual but rather about the focus of the value. Society has shifted its focus from a traditional business model to a more social entrepreneurial format. There are more people working independently and remote than ever before. But in this the networking value is even more essential. Look to how you are framing your monthly meetings and shape them to be more inclusive of all membership demographics.

Here’s the thing, if enjoyable and meeting the value promised, people will come no matter what. You simply can't guess why members are not attending your meetings. You can hopefully track all aspects of their membership, including event and monthly meeting attendance, but this only informs a pattern of who is coming and who is not coming, not why they aren’t coming. This information can be useful though, especially if you note that certain member demographic groups are not regularly attending while others are. This gives you a starting point. But really, you simply need to ask them directly why they are not coming to meetings, either through an email survey or a more personal phone call. This will eliminate the speculation and provide concrete answers so you can find the solutions that fit your members’ needs.


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