Back in January 2022, it became clear that COVID had a negative impact on the guild. Our membership numbers from “normal” times in 2017 to the latest figures–from 258 down to 126. We experienced a decline of 52%. Over half our members fell by the wayside!
It’s difficult to maintain our activities with 126 members, especially since many of us are at that age when we start slowing down and stop climbing ladders. Board members divided up the list of those lapsed members and contacted them by phon. Some members returned and we gathered some information as to why members were leaving but we need also to understand why new members aren’t replacing them.
Very important was to gather information from quilters who do not belong to our organization when it was still named the Quilters’ Guild of North Dakota. The number of quilters is not declining, so why are they not signing up?
Two “chat with us” events were held at local quilt shops. Mary’s Quilt Market and Rae-Bon Sew and Quilt Shop generously provided space for us to interview their customers. Muriel Richardson, Kim Baird, Kim Stenehjem and Janet VanAmberg asked quilters if they knew about QGND, would they join, or why they had decided not to. We also discussed the Metro Quilt Expo, and why some quilters enter every year, and some never do.
It turned out to be a fun way to spend the afternoon. Quilters love to talk about quilts, and we did! It was also informative.
- We discovered that quilters are intimidated by the word “Guild.” It gives them the impression that this is a group for experts only, and they don’t feel they are good enough to join. We heard this many times.
- Some of the quilters had not heard of the group. Some who had heard of us, assumed it was a state-wide organization not a local quilting group. This was even true of some of our members before they joined.
We concluded that one very important way to attract new members is simply to change our name. We should have a name that uses “Quilters,” since that’s who we are. And one that reflects our locality, which is Fargo and its neighboring communities in Cass County, plus Moorhead and other towns in Clay County. We don’t want a name that suggests to some quilters that they aren’t good enough, so “Guild” and other exclusive terms should be avoided.
The Board had already decided we should develop a new logo, one that reflects our mission statement. These two items go together—a new name, and a new logo. It seems that they will go a long way toward attracting new members to our group. To that end, the board created a task force to address our new branding direction. Task force members:
- Kim Baird
- Kim Stenehjem
- Muriel Richardson
- Janet VanAmberg, board representative
- With assistance from Kay Braun and Char Grant
The committee has developed a short list of possible new names. Members had an opportunity to make suggestions, too. They received instructions for submitting suggestions via Survey Planet. Since our By-Laws specify our name, we’ll have to modify those to make the change. That means a vote of all the members, with notification 30 days ahead.
One idea to increase membership is already taking place. Why not create our own new members? So, for the next 3 months, our education time will be devoted to teaching the basics of making quilts. Both members and non-members can take advantage of this opportunity. Register on the web page so we know how many to expect.
If you wish to contribute your expertise to the group, contact Kim Baird.