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How can I get folks to participate?

Jill

I started a new group in mid June and have members, but noone will RSVP or come to the events. The group is an outdoor group for people with older dogs where we will go for an easy walk/hike and for some events there is an outdoor concert or farmers market to attend after the walk of folks want to do that. I do say in the description of the group that folks with calm younger dogs and folks without dogs are welcome to join and attend. So far there are 7 members and most members have older dogs, but there is one member who does not have a dog. There also was a member with a calm younger dog who expressed interest in attending but then suddenly left the group. I know starting a new group is challenging, but I do have folks who have joined, just can't get anyone to attend an event. I have not charged anyone to join and I am shouldering the financial burden by myself - still no attendance at events.

I have had 6 meetups so far and I am the only person who has attended. I have posted pictures from each of the meetups with lots of cute pictures of my dogs and other dogs we have met during the event in an effort to encourage folks to attend, but no luck. I have posted a poll to get an idea of what folks want, but noone has responded even after me asking for input. I have individually asked folks if they would be interested in helping me promote the group and plan events, and only one person has responded to that but I don't get the impression that she will follow through. I have remained upbeat and friendly, but I am getting frustrated.

Any help or ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Jill

Up 2 rated Down
Dean Aug 14, 2014 12:40PM EDT
Jill,
If you're comfortable putting yourself out there, you might try personal invitations to those members that seem to participate in other meet up groups. I've found some people join a lot and are bombarded by computer generated email reminders. Something directly from you to them might get there attention :)

Good luck!
Up 1 rated Down
Lisa Aug 15, 2014 03:02PM EDT
Is there anything you can setup for your participants to do after the walk? Such as a dog friendly outdoor patio to relax and enjoy something to eat or drink? Maybe that would entice your members to be more social?
Up 1 rated Down
Nina Aug 21, 2014 04:25PM EDT
Is there another, more established meetup group in the area that you're competing with? Maybe they don't focus on older dogs but they allow dogs at their events? If so, try to schedule events on days that do not conflict with their events.

Most people belong to several meetup groups and on any given day, people have several activities to choose from. For the most part, I find that people prefer to stay close to where they live so you may want to look at where your members live and try to schedule an event that is really close to one or more of your members.

Good luck and please keep us posted on how things go!
Up 0 rated Down
Jill Aug 26, 2014 07:30AM EDT
Thank you for all your ideas. Good news - The last two meetups each had one attendee in addition to me! It is small, but it is a start and I am excited! Each person has agreed to help promote the group by posting flyers and one is even going to make us a facebook page!

Dean - you were right on. I sent out personal messages and a couple of folks did respond. Just as you said, they were being bombarded with messages and were deleting without reading as a result. Thank you so much for your help!

Lisa - what a great idea. We scoped out places in our meetup today and we are going to try having "destination city walks". So we would start at one point in the city (the starting point where we all meet and park), take a walk to a "destination spot", like a dog friendly restaurant or cafe, stop for a rest and a snack or drink, and then walk back to the starting point. Increasing the human social value of the event just might be what we need to get more folks involved. Thank you so much for your idea. I will let you know how it goes.

Nina - most of the members do live where I am planning the events. However, you do bring up a good point because we do have several members that do not live close, so those members may never be able to attend an event. I am wondering if maybe once in a while I should plan an event nearer to them so they will have the opportunity to participate. Thanks for that feedback, it gives me something to think about.

Thanks again to everyone for your input. I will keep you posted on how things progress.
Up 0 rated Down
Jeanette Sep 18, 2014 11:37AM EDT
Hi there - I was wondering if you have checked the areas of interest for your group so when members are looking for a group if your group would come up? You can a few different interest areas like walking, social, outdoor activities etc and that way you will be more know in the areas of interest.
Also flyers on noticeboards in the area can help or free ads in the local paper.
All the best
Jeanette
Up -1 rated Down
JeanH13 Oct 01, 2014 07:58AM EDT
Hi Jill,
I have been running a dog hiking group for about 2 1/2 years, and had the same problems for about the first two months. I list hikes in two counties, and do not charge for membership. Most people attend the hikes that are within a 15 minute drive of their home, but their are a few people who will drive up to an hour depending on the hike location.

Maybe some attendants/visitors do not know what is classified as an older dog hike? As general advice, a dog age requirement may also not be necessary, as people who hike with my group seem to naturally fall into a good pack pace with a ~15 minute distance gap between 3 tiers: puppies way in front, adults in middle/visible sight, and seniors in the back enjoying the view. I also make it clear on the home page that I have a senior Corgi with weak knees, and people can hike faster/slower than the pack if they want.

Also, what is the general time you try to hike? I explicitly lead morning hikes on weekends (9 am in summer, and 11 am in winter). A routine time frame might help getting a dedicated RSVP schedule with your group.

~JeanH13
Up 0 rated Down
Mike Nov 08, 2014 11:04AM EST
Send out a recap email to tell your members about all the fun you had at the last meetup, including details. "Everybody had a great time meeting Jill and her Irish Setter, Red. Red and Caesar, Bill's Golden Retriever hit it off right away. Poor Droopy, tried, but he could keep up with their dog-park antics. He contented himself with trying not to drool on anyone who would pet him." Include a link to the next meetup and all the reasons it is going to be the best one ever and all the benefits the reader will get by participating. It's not easy, but you want to establish a personal connection with a group email. You do that by sharing of yourself.
Up 1 rated Down
Don Uhrig Dec 11, 2014 09:24AM EST
You might also try the Poll feature to create a series of questions that will drill down for example preferred times of walks. Maybe folks aren't coming because it simply doesn't meet their schedule. While you can never please everyone, you can at least see if there is a skew to a particular time block.

I send out a group e-mail two days before an event that is worded to entice the member, and make sure to include a direct link to the event. The easier it is for the member the better.

It's also possible that you have members "with good intentions". Instead of trying to please them, you may just have to recruit new people.

As an example of weeding out the good intentions: I started charging dues, but only if a member is dormant by 60 days. When a member attends one of my events, I automatically extend their dues day by 60-days -- it's the reward for participation. If someone chooses to just sit in the background, they will pay $2.00 per month. That action weeded out the non-serious people quickly.

Some people just like to say "I belong to such-and-such", but they aren't actually active. Good luck.
Up 0 rated Down
Cynthia D. Jan 04, 2015 10:34AM EST
Start another group & hold JOINT events! Like you said with destination activities. One of your groups will be for the dogs, and the other group will be for the activity. Post the event twice though, will give it more exposure. Maybe have some non-dog events posted once per month.
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