As every NAWBO chapter knows, it takes dedication, creativity and camaraderie to keep a chapter growing and thriving. The NAWBO-New Mexico chapter is a great example of this, as one of our Fall Membership Drive winners. Through planning, leadership and a commitment to bringing value to their members, they’re taking their chapter to new heights.
When President Lorie Guthrie and Membership Director Donna Luke took their respective positions two years ago, they made a commitment to hold a membership event twice a year, and follow it up with an orientation. “As a result, more than half the year we are promoting the addition and retention of members—which tells the membership they are valued, and reminds them to share NAWBO with the women business owners they know,” says Donna.
The chapter has held numerous creative events aimed at improving and retaining membership, including “Coffee and Chocolate,” luncheons and “pre-meeting” events designed for potential members to be introduced to the chapter and attend a regular NAWBO meeting. With 43 members in the chapter, those events have made a huge impact. Case in point: 53 percent of the current membership was gained during 2016 and 2017 alone.
But, improving membership goes beyond gaining new members—it’s also about ensuring existing members feel recognized and see the value in their NAWBO network. That’s why the chapter held a Membership Appreciation Social this year, inviting existing and potential members to enjoy appetizers and a drink at a local restaurant (provided free-of-charge by the owner). “We had several members tell the group why they joined NAWBO and why they’ve stayed,” explains Donna. “We had everyone introduce themselves with their name, business name and a business description in 10 words or less, and we talked one-to-one. What a success! I asked a couple of guests at the end of the event, ‘Do you find value in belonging to this organization?’ The answer was a resounding ‘Yes. I know I’ll be joining.’ Now comes the follow-up.”
As they look ahead, the New Mexico chapter continues to focus on improving membership, as well as explore ways to increase visibility and value in the business community. “This will be a busy year with our Public Policy Committee,” shares Lorie. “In addition to our annual Speak Out legislative event, we are partnering with other organizations for upcoming forums to educate our members on the candidates. Our Public Policy committee is one of the pillars of NAWBO-New Mexico and differentiates us from the other women’s business organizations.”
The New Mexico Chapter hopes to continue to grow and expand the valuable circle of support for women business owners that NAWBO has to offer. “No matter whether the company is a solopreneurship or has several employees, the decisions are made by the owner. It’s important that the owner surround herself with peers she respects and who understand her,” shares Donna.