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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Monday, December 05, 2005

How to find New Members for the NSS

Arthur Smith in my comments section in the post on "Why
I am not a member of he NSS"

I think you're right about the "simple letter" being a great start -
however, blasting letters to every member of the public isn't
financially feasible... We do spend a lot of money on paper mailings
but it doesn't seem to be very productive (I think even with targeted
mailings we spend more on the mailings than we receive back in
first-year dues, but donations and renewals help make it positive); I
wonder if you have any specific ideas for improving the collection of
addresses to send to? Any idea how Planetary Society got your address?

This is a question I have been thinking about all weekend. I am no
sure how they got my name and I am not sure how the NSS targets people
for mailing. I can offer some possibilities about when I received the
first mailer:

  • I subscribed to Astronomy Magazine
  • I was a sophomore engineering student
  • I bought a lot of books on space (Case for Mars, Hyperspace, etc...)
  • Saw & bought a lot of space movies (Star Trek, Star Wars, etc...)

Here are some things I have done since that I guess don't show up on
the NSS's targeting:

  • Continued subscribing to Astronomy for 10 years
  • Season pass the Space & Rocket Center
  • Buying model rocket stuff
  • Buying space games (simulators and shoot-um ups)

I am really not sure what kind of stuff works. I am beginning to
think one-on-one stuff works really well. Nothing could have
gotten me to join faster than emails from most of the HAL5 executive
committee and your comments.

Maybe we should follow the Christian evangelism model of "converting"
people you know. Neighbors, coworkers, family could all be a
possibility. It did turn a couple of dozen people into about 2
billion in 2000 years. That's an increase of ~1,000,000/year.

Just my first thoughts. I will continue thinking about it.


Arthur said...

Dan, thanks, that's actually a rather helpful list, I'm forwarding it on to our Exec. Director to think about the marketing side of it all...

On personal evangelism - yeah, I sometimes think that's what we are doing - but "missionaries" don't always receive a warm welcome, and people get discouraged after a while by rejection... which is why it's wonderful to hear from folks like you!

Arthur said...


FYI George was very grateful for your list - "This gives some great ideas." Apparently we do use the Astronomy mailing list already, but it's too large for us to target the whole list and stick within existing budgets... if there was a way to limit it to those who have been steady subscribers for many years, that could be very helpful. Anyway, thanks from everybody for the ideas!

murphydyne said...

You subscribed to Astronomy magazine, and Planetary Society bought the mailing list. Which works great for the Planetary Society which focuses on deeper space stuff anyway. NSS's efforts, as I understand them, are focused a little closer to home and relevant to our near-term future. At this time there's really not a good magazine (other than Ad Astra, which is ours) in the U.S. right now in that regard. France has Espace Magazine (which is absolutely first rate and the highest quality), and the U.K. has Spaceflight magazine. Most of the stuff in the U.S. is astronomy focused.

Arthur's right. Evangelism is kind of a touchy way to put it in our current cultural context, even though the word really does capture the essence of much of the outreach grunt-work we do.

An example of which is our local Boy Scout Space Exploration merit badge clinic. It's an important way of cultivating interest in a space future in the youngsters and their families. Problem is, we don't have the personpower in volunteers just at NSS-NT to staff a complete program. So we've partnered up with the Frontiers of Flight museum, Dallas Area Rocket Society, Dallas Mars Society, Moon Society (me), and local Solar System Ambassadors (a great JPL program). Together, we can pull off several in 2006 and we hope to have a big one at the ISDC in 2007 so that we can have space luminaries actually talking to the scouts.

It's a great program, and of course very involved and labor intensive. We should know, the NSS-NT chapter is the one that updated the newest edition in conjunction with BSA HQ over in Irving. This was right before I joined. NSS-NT is acknowledged in the back, so every scout in the U.S. that bothers to read that far back will see the NSS name. The first clinic we ran everything that could go wrong, di, and then some. I wrote a kind of lessons-learned article for Ad Astra Online, but that's another tale of woe.

Thanks for the big giant weblinks at the top of the page. Any way we could get an NSS-NT one up there as well? ;-)

Dan Schrimpsher said...

Ken - North Textas Added.
I understand what you are saying about missionaries, but I meant something a little different. Most of the new membership (in my exerience) brought into a church is by people talking with their relatives, neighbors, friends, coworkers. It is people bringing in people they know. I think that is how to build a strong, growing foundation.

Lets have NSS lunch & learn's at our work places (if it is okay with your company). Let's get people poster's to put up in their office.

My old church in college had a thing called "every member in ministry." It was an idea that each person in the church was reponsible for ministering to the outside world. We had to sign a contract each January about which ministries we were going to help with.

Maybe we could have every member is a recruiter. Just have people talk about the NSS to their friends without being preachy or pushy. Over time, it may lead to a lot of growth. Don't assume it is happening. Maybe we need to give people talking points that might interest their friends, like tracts.

It is late and this may all sound crazy in the morning. So take it for what it is worth.