German Village Gazette

Society, business group report membership increase

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For the second consecutive year, the German Village Society has seen a rise in membership.

The nonprofit organization is reporting an increase of 82 members over 2011, pushing the total to 898. In 2011, there was a jump of 37 to 785.

"The numbers are encouraging because more participation and more financial support mean we get to expand mission-centric programs and projects," said Shiloh Todorov, German Village Society director.

She credits the uptick to a variety of factors, including more innovative and targeted marketing strategies.

For example, the society's membership committee has reinstituted block captains, each of whom is assigned to one of roughly 20 separate areas in the village, which they canvass for possible members.

And, in 2011, the Society hired Todorov as a director.

"I think having a director gives us a lot more visibility in a lot more places," Todorov said. "You can't help but be visible when you have someone dedicated to being visible."

During the fall membership renewal drive, 13 percent of respondents increased their membership level, Todorov said.

The Society offers various levels of dues-paying memberships, from individuals, who pay $50 annually, to legacy members, who pay $1,000 a year.

The $84,156 in membership dues for 2012 accounted for roughly 30 percent of the society's annual budget, Todorov said.

Those who join get discounts on merchandise sold at the Meeting Haus, and a price break on rentals of the facility, she said.

"I think that the less tangible but clear-cut benefit to membership is that the Society is working hard to make sure the neighborhood is historic, a crown jewel for all of Columbus," Todorov said.

Likewise, the German Village Business Community saw an increase in membership. While membership fell from 115 in 2010 to 111 in 2011, it rebounded in 2012, bringing the total to 142.

Greg Gamier and Jeff Lowe, both of whom own Village Pet Supply, for the first time were co-chairmen of the business organization in 2012 and will lead it again this year.

"Seeing our numbers climb is pretty exciting," Gamier said. "It's what we set out to do.

"We wanted to make it a more inclusive group than maybe it's been in the past," he said. "I think people saw good things happening and wanted to be part of it."

Annual dues are $200 for professional-service businesses and nonprofits and $250 for restaurants or retailers.

A separate $500 level is available to businesses that want to contribute more to the organization. A portion of the money goes toward the German Village Society, which is the parent organization of the business community, and the rest is used to promote the business organizations member businesses and activities, including the Art Crawl and Village Lights.

"We're just looking forward to the upcoming year," Gamier said.

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