The CASSOC Symposium for Growth and Success

Member Connections - October 28, 2023 - Session Summary (no resources)

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Session Summary

The main focus of the session was to address common problems faced by member groups, such as membership engagement and retention. The discussion emphasized practical solutions, and best practices were shared with the session participants. The session finished with a Q&A after the panelist presentations, as follows, in order of appearance.


  Membership Growth -Joan McAulay - Chief of Clan MacAulay Association

Joan presented first, discussing successful strategies which since 2019 have led to a growth in membership from around 100 to 300. She highlighted the importance of having the right people in the right positions and acknowledged the role of the executive team. Effective communication was also emphasized, with the importance of retaining and engaging members being highlighted.


 The following materials are provided for your organization's use and are not to be distributed to others or publicly without the express permission of Joan McAulay

  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Clan MacAulay Association Website

If you'd like to reach Joan, contact her using Cette adresse courriel est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.


Facebook Use for Engagement - Sylvie Thériault, Editor,  Council member, Clan Gregor Society Canada

Sylvie shared her screen and explained how she manages multiple Facebook accounts, including one for Clan Gregor and other Scottish societies, using a separate persona, Sylvie Petrie. She discussed her role in sharing updates and managing social media pages, her approach to posting content, and the importance of engaging with the audience. She also mentioned a contest run by the Clan Gregor, encouraging participants to share photos featuring the name McGregor. The meeting also emphasized the importance of regular posting and managing content on Facebook, with highlights on the need to maintain engagement with customers and fans.


If you would like to reach Sylvie about her presentation, contact her using Cette adresse courriel est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.


 Retention and Attraction: Scott MacDougald,  Vice President for Canada - Clan MacDougall Society NA

Scott emphasized the significance of having a dedicated team for organization retention and attraction, highlighting the need for accurate and updated data. He suggested exploring neglected communication channels and considering the age cohorts of membership. Scott also shared his experience with an unread website mailbox and stressed the importance of regular checks. A study he conducted revealed that those between 49 and 59 were leaving at the highest rate, emphasizing the importance of communication with members and understanding their needs and interests. Scott suggested conducting exit interviews with departing members and training client tent hosts to enhance the organization's image. He also emphasized the cost-effectiveness of retaining members versus acquiring new ones, suggesting different levels of membership, easy renewal or switch to long-term memberships, and user-friendly experiences. Scott also emphasized the importance of keeping membership information up-to-date, checking the functionality of links and pages, and making sure that information is easy to find and use. He also touched on the issue of spelling variations in names as a potential way to attract more members.


The following materials are provided for your organization's use and are not to be distributed to others or publicly without the express permission of Scott MacDougald.

  • PowerPoint Presentation

If you'd like to reach Scott, contact him using Cette adresse courriel est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.


Your Society's Web Challenges - David Carrick, Society Chief of the Kennedy Society of North America


David discussed his role as society chief and the issues he faced, particularly in relation to the website. He detailed the steps they took to improve the website, such as updating the content and graphics, automating membership functions, and creating an online retail store. However, he also highlighted the challenges they encountered, including resistance to change from some members and the ongoing need for maintenance and attention. David emphasized the importance of making members feel valued and recognized.


 The following materials are provided for your organization's use and are not to be distributed to others or publicly without the express permission of David Carrick.

  • Presentation
  • Kennedy Society of North America website

If you'd like to reach David, contact him using 864-918-2505 or at Cette adresse courriel est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.


Marketing Strategy Importance - Bob Macauley, Marketing Coordinator,  Clan MacAulay Association


Bob, as a marketing professional emphasized the importance of having a clear plan and understanding the 'why' behind the marketing activities. He referred to Simon Sinek's concept of 'starting with why' and suggested that the team watch Simon's 15-minute presentation to understand their purpose. Bob then shared the marketing plan he developed for the company, which included objectives, strategies, and tactics. He highlighted the significance of emotive benefits, member engagement, and incentives in retaining and attracting members. Bob also mentioned the use of Zoom meetings, featuring artists, musicians, and authors, to bring members together and celebrate different cultural events. The plan also included a genealogy program and a merchandise line. Bob concluded by sharing that the plan would be shared with the Symposium participants for their reference.


The following materials are provided for your organization's use and are not to be distributed to others or publicly without the express permission of Bob Macauley.

  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Marketing Plan
  • Membership Value Proposition
  • Website used for Highland Games, ideas and other info

If you'd like to reach Bob and share further about his presentation, contact him using Cette adresse courriel est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.


Increasing Membership and Revenue - Matt Buchanan, Vice President - Clan Buchanan International


Matt discussed the strategies and approaches that Clan Buchanan in Australia is using to increase its membership and revenue. Matt, who is from South Australia, highlighted the challenges of not having Highland games in his region and therefore investing in Highland culture in a different way such as focusing on digital content. He emphasized the importance of understanding the interests of potential members, offering relevant content, and providing excellent member services. He also mentioned the ways in which Clan Buchanan has updated its technology, resources, websites, newsletters, and competitions to attract younger audiences. Finally, he stressed the importance of humor in their content to keep it engaging and relatable for their target audience.


The following materials are provided for your organization's use and are not to be distributed to others or publicly without the express permission of Matt Buchanan.

  • Presentation
  • Clan Buchanan Society International website

If you'd like to reach Matt, contact him at Cette adresse courriel est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.


Improving Member Connections - Paul Johnston, President of Clan Johnston/e in America


Paul discussed the strategies implemented by their organization to improve member connections, engagement, retention, and growth. They adopted an online membership management system and developed a private website for members, which offers exclusive content and has contributed to steady growth since its implementation in 2021. The organization also engages with potential members at festivals and games and through online searches. The use of timely renewal reminders has significantly improved renewals and member retention. The organization also has a reimbursement program for expenses related to games and offers subsidies for tent hosts. Paul discussed the successful implementation of the new system that has steadily increased the organization's membership to over 500. They have a quarterly newsletter, a series of Zoom talks, and an integrated email system to communicate with members. They also have a Facebook page, an online store, and a scholarship program.


The following materials are provided for your organization's use and are not to be distributed to others or publicly without the express permission of Paul Johnston.

  • Presentation

If you'd like to reach Paul, contact him at Cette adresse courriel est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.


Q&A Highlights 

Training, Engagement, Advertising, Integration, Drip Campaign, QR Codes.
Matt and Paul discussed training conveners on how to engage with attendees at Scottish events, including how to use the organization's system and how to set up and manage a tent. They also discussed strategies for attracting younger generations, including appearing more youthful, involving younger people, and incorporating more social and interactive activities.

Sylvie and Matt talked about the need to integrate content from Facebook and other social media platforms into their website. Paul suggested advertising content for paid members only as one method of converting Facebook group members to paid members.

Joan shared about their drip campaign for their upcoming international gathering and their member permissions process, which includes consent for contact and inclusion in their members-only directory.

Bill asked about the tools used for QR codes and the specifics of their interest areas.

International Organization Challenges
Terence, Joan, Matt, Paul, Malcolm, Bill, Mark, Joan, and others discussed the challenges and advantages of being part of an international organization, specifically Clan MacNeil.

They acknowledged that despite being separated by geography, they all answer to the same chief in Scotland.

Matt expressed the advantages of being a part of a larger organization, allowing for a more diverse perspective.

Joan emphasized the importance of different perspectives and the need for unity.

Malcolm explained their legal structure, which allows them to maintain their autonomy while being part of the larger organization. Mark discussed the challenges faced by his organization, including declining membership and aging leadership.

Bart provided insights on his successful strategy of converting Facebook viewers to members through internet marketing and a solid website with content.

The group also touched on the importance of building relationships and encouraging volunteerism for executive committees. The session ended with a discussion on the upcoming November nineteenth session which will delve deeper into the topic of sustainability.

Print vs Digital Magazines Debated
Joan, Bill, and others deliberated on the cost and efficacy of print magazines for their organization. They acknowledged the preference of younger members for electronic versions, but they also recognized the demand for physical copies among long-term members, thereby incurring printing costs. They also discussed the difficulty of transitioning older members to electronic communications. As a solution, they agreed on the need to balance both electronic and printed options to cater to their diverse membership's needs.


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