Practically every time I mention my hobby to a group of strangers they share stories of past experiences and enjoyable memories of time spent playing with Mom’s or Grandma’s old buttons. If there’s a state button show coming up in our area I encourage them to attend or invite them to come to a local club meeting. Membership in a club not only introduces potential collectors to mentors who pass along their knowledge of buttons but also to a whole group of friends with a common interest. Many times the friendships mean more than the buttons in the long run.
Jerry DeHay just shared some great news from Texas. Several years ago, while he was president of the TX State Button Society, they held a one day “Button Collecting Event” in Waco and widely publicized it in a 5 county area. Although attendance was lower than they’d hoped, a seed was planted and recently a new club of ten members was founded in Waco! One of their members has been collecting for years but didn’t know anyone else did until she went to the event. How many others like her are right under our noses? Jerry plans to attend their next meeting to welcome them and share with them the benefits of belonging to NBS. Attracting, and keeping, members at the local, state, regional and national levels are key to our future.
The National Button Society is somewhat unique among other national organizations in that our membership is voluntary. In many other groups, membership at the national level is required before one may belong to a local club. I’ve been giving this some thought lately since the NBS Board is taking a hard look at our member benefits and how to improve our member retention. There are “core” NBS members who attend every convention and serve the organization loyally and untiringly in many capacities. There are those who support the organization financially and intellectually by doing research and writing articles for the Bulletin. Still others work behind the scenes to keep the organization running. Many times these volunteers are stretched to the limit because they’re not only involved at the national level, but at the regional, state and local levels as well. They’re the bridge connecting local members to NBS. Membership chair, Susan Porter, encourages all state societies to belong to NBS. The main goal here is mutual support. Susan is now publishing the names and contact information of all new NBS members so state and local clubs can invite them to their meetings. Belonging to a local or online group helps increase interest and retain members at all levels. On the other side of the coin, all members of local clubs should be encouraged to join NBS. One level should never be considered an alternative. It will take mutual cooperation and support to ensure our future.