German Village Gazette

Village notebook

Increase in society membership, level support encouraging

By Shiloh Todorov
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When you're new to a job like mine, you look for incremental evidence that you're performing well.

Is the board of directors supportive?

Does a good cross-section of members stop by to comment positively?

Are people buying tickets and signing up to volunteer?

All of those things seem to be going well, but I wanted to share one significant sign that the German Village Society is making members happy.

In November, we sent out a membership renewal letter to about one-third of our members whose anniversary dates fall in November, December and January.

The pace of renewals has been great. In fact, my colleague, Russ Arledge, is buried in envelopes.

But here's the incremental atta-boy – 13 percent of members have increased their membership level.

Under the leadership of new trustee and new membership committee chairwoman Stefanie Martt, we had a whiz-bang renewal letter this fall.

Stef recruited longtime members and active volunteers Barb and Ed Elberfeld to write the letter to neighbors about what makes them want to be involved.

I just have to share a few of my favorite quotes from the Elberfelds – in case you haven't seen the letter yet:

"Joining the society means you get to leverage your own participation 1,000 fold. We have a lot of interests but not enough hours in the day to be involved in everything.”

“Supporting the society means some of your neighbors take care of the gardens, some of your neighbors work on schooling and other issues vital to young families, some of your neighbors plan Monster Bash – and it all gets done when we throw our support of German Village Society together into a big pot and stir."

"We’re challenging you to think beyond just renewing. Consider yourself part of the membership committee. Tell a friend about the society. Bring a neighbor to an event. And understand that membership knows no physical boundary."

I couldn't have written it better myself.

The Elberfelds closed by asking members to consider renewing at a higher level than last year, and they promised to do the same.

The German Village Society has membership levels ranging from individual at $50 and household at $75 to $125, $250-, $500- and $1,000-level supporters.

For 13 percent of those renewing, to respond to the call to step up is beyond gratifying.

I'm taking it as a vote that we are on the right track and members are voting with their dollars.

So let's start a conversation. What are your expectations of membership? What makes you join and renew? What keeps you from joining?

I would love to have you shoot me an email with your thoughts on what it means to be a member of the German Village Society. I'm at todorov@germanvillage.com.

German Village Society director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.

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