January 17, 2018 Con Call Minutes

  • January 17, 2018 Con Call Minutes

  • Mary Lynne Beckley

    January 22, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Minutes – Conference Call Meeting

    Southern Urban Forestry Councils

     The coalition of southern urban forestry councils met via conference call on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 10 a.m. EST.  Present on the call were urban forest council representatives from Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Northern Kentucky, Florida and Georgia.  The group discussed and exchanged ideas of ways to manage and grow urban forestry council membership programs.  Currently, none of the southern urban forestry councils has over 200 members.

    Discussion began with a review of sample urban forest council membership programs from Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia – please see attached.

    Ideas on growing our memberships:  Discussion included using an annual or monthly renewal reminder schedule, depending on what works for the organization and using the board to help push memberships through their personal contacts, colleagues and networks.  Regarding membership benefits, the group discussed, in addition to the usual educational program discounts and communications to members, ideas such as Tennessee’s Tree Link member discount program, which include Arboretum discounts and a partnership with a local credit union which pays for new memberships for new account holders.  Georgia offers a $1000 Lifetime membership category and targets municipalities, getting one or two new Lifetime memberships per year, which eliminates renewal reminders for Lifetime members and helps when there is a change in contact at the municipality.  Arkansas found that personal outreach from their board, either phone or e-mail, helped in membership renewals.  An idea implemented by many councils is to add a complimentary one year membership to non-member attendees to educational programs.  The new member then receives a renewal reminder upon membership expiration. If discounts at partner businesses are offered to members, members should receive a membership card or letter to show proof of membership. It’s important to recognize members and perhaps list their names during the year. Some councils assemble a yearly directory of members to share and often give a small gift like a bumper stick to members.  The group will continue to seek out new ideas for membership growth.

    Management of Databases: Georgia uses an Excel sheet database and mail merges to send out renewal reminders, after having tried the Member Planet program to make renewals more automated and finding that more personal oversight is needed, as contacts in businesses and municipalities often change.  Tennessee uses Quickbooks to manage memberships.

    The southern urban forestry councils will meet again via conference call on Wednesday, February 21 at 10 a.m. EST.  Topics to discuss will be membership (revisited), annual conferences, and Arbor Day Events.  A reminder e-mail will be sent to all.


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