There are hundreds of Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods throughout the State of Florida and each is multifaceted and unique. Some of these Clubs are affiliated with a specific Synagogue, Temple or JCC, however Florida also has thousands of gated (and ungated) communities and Country Clubs, many of which have their own Jewish Men’s Club or Brotherhood. Many Colleges and Universities in Florida also have Jewish Clubs and Brotherhoods, Fraternities, House Plans, Chabad House, Hillel House, yada yada.
Some Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods are hyper focused on religious activities. Others focus their activities on social interaction, community activism or Israel advocacy. However, they all Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods have two common needs; (1) how to attract younger / newer members, and (2) Club leadership succession planning. The solution to both of these problems could be as simple as expanding your “membership” base by marketing your Men’s Club or Brotherhood to a greater target audience, both from within your synagogue as well as from the greater local Jewish community. Ponder your answers to these eight questions:
1. Who do you currently consider a “member” of your Men’s Club or Brotherhood?
2. Does your Club have a formal membership application, or is subscribing to your email list or “joining” your Brotherhood’s Facebook page or group considered “membership”?
3. Can anybody that self identifies as Jewish become one of the guys and “join” your Club, or is potential membership limited only to current, dues members of a specific Synagogue, Temple, JCC, or residents of a specific community?
4. If the written bylaws of your Men’s Club or Brotherhood limit membership only to “members” of a specific temple, synagogue, or JCC, then do you have the ability to amend your bylaws to create an “affiliate” membership category in order to help expand your potential membership base, as well as grow the target audience for your Club’s message?
5. Does your Men’s Club or Brotherhood have a formalized dues structure, or are you funded as a line item of a Synagogue or Homeowner’s Association?
6. Are the programs, events and fund raising activities organized by your Men’s Club or Brotherhood open to anyone, or is participation limited to current members only?
7. Does your Synagogue or Temple based Men’s Club or Brotherhood actively establish a relationship with all post Bar Mitzvah youth or age 21+ congregants and offer programming of interest to that demographic, or is it an old man’s scotch and cigar club?
8. Do you have a seat on your Men’s Club or Brotherhood Board for a USY or Hillel representative from a local College or University to add a fresh point of view to programming discussions?
With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at some of the many ways you can market and grow your Men’s Club or Brotherhood locally, both from within your Synagogue parking lot as well as from the greater local Jewish community.
Whether you plan to market your Men’s Club or Brotherhood only within your Temple or to the greater unaffiliated Jewish community, you need to establish a connection with your potential membership base and earn their trust. One way to accomplish this goal is establishing a presence via networking events. This can include connecting with synagogue members and / or the greater Jewish community via meetups, business card exchanges, group get-togethers and other events that will help to raise visibility of your Club.
Just as every Synagogue or Temple has an internal newsletter, many cities, towns and communities have publications, newsletters, websites and Facebook groups that can further raise visibility of your Club and it’s activities. Never underestimate the value of regularly submitting short news stories highlighting community involvement of your Men’s Club or Brotherhood members, and the positive impact of your activities on your local community. Leverage these resources and make a plan to get out there and start making connections. Don’t limit your posts to your Synagogue or Brotherhood Facebook page; re-post your relevant content to other social media groups such as JCC’s, “Jewish in Florida” and other hyper-local Jewish organization Facebook groups that cater to your specific geographic area.
There is strength in numbers. Forming positive working relationships and strategic alliances with other local Jewish Men’s Clubs, Brotherhoods and organizations allow your programs and events to have greater overall visibility and will help to grow the target audience for your message. Hosting joint programs with other Men’s Clubs, Brotherhoods and sister organizations can bring diversity, a fresh point of view and reinvigorate all Clubs involved.
Connecting to your target audience boils down to understanding them: who makes up your potential membership base? What types of programs tend to be more popular? What kind of events bring in more people rather than others? Make collecting data and feedback your friend. If something went wrong, then you will want to solicit feedback in order to fix any issues not initially seen.
How your Men’s Club or Brotherhood responds to concerns and criticism can be the difference in earning the trust and respect of your current and prospective members (your target audience) versus derision and outright being snubbed. Acknowledge and respond to concerns, criticism and suggestions. If a negative perception exists that your Club only serves the interests of one segment of your target audience, then evolve and diversify your Club’s activities, programming and events to appeal to a larger and more diverse audience.
Keeping you Club’s website and social media presence current and your message on point is of the utmost importance to maintain credibility and build positive awareness of your message, your brand, your Club, your Brotherhood. Boost awareness of your Club by utilizing local community events, street fairs, flea markets and your public library. Other ways to increase awareness of your Club’s brand, grow your membership base and grow that subset of your membership that will become your future leadership succession plan could include participation in a multi-cultural community festival, organizing a community health fair or sponsorship of a local sports team or scout troop. Make the most of local resources, research your community, be responsive and watch your Men’s Club or Brotherhood membership grow.
These words of wisdom are brought to you by the Florida Region of the FJMC. We serve the needs of Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods across the State of Florida from the Panhandle to Miami. If you are not yet affiliated with the Federation, then today is the day to join us. Get to know more about the FJMC Florida Region and our growing statewide network of Jewish Men’s Clubs and Brotherhoods at www.FloridaRegionFJMC.org and please visit and LIKE our Florida Region FJMC Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/FloridaRegionFJMC.