Club 1966: “Membership Has Its Privileges”


September 2nd, 2021

With a tip of the hat to American Express, membership has its privileges. That brand tagline is one of the most well-known of its kind in the world of global marketing. It’s certainly been directly associated with the green, white and black premium charge card for as long as I can remember.

And to this day, it is the single most persuasive counter-point to the recent notion that membership is dead.

There are of course those who point to declining membership statistics at not-for-profit associations across the board in Canada and the United States (numbers that have declined alongside television and radio audiences). Some suggest membership numbers have gone down since social media numbers first began to grow, initially in the days of MySpace and now in a world punctuated by Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and other online social networks. Even before the COVID-19 global pandemic, analysts pointed to declining live event attendance and chills on participation overall. The numbers associated with declining membership cannot be denied. It’s a real issue, in some forms of organizations more than others.

Yet the rumours of membership’s demise are greatly exaggerated. At the BC Sports Hall of Fame, we’re saying “long live membership”. In fact, we’re saying “long live a new form of membership” to the BC Sports Hall of Fame. We’re saying “long live integrated membership”. We’re saying that we are now offering a gallery membership that includes society membership and vice-versa.

We’ll be saying all those things in the coming weeks and months as we reposition, revamp and re-energize our membership model to align it with our vision to be the “best BC Sports Hall that we can be” and, moreover, to bring it in line with the realities of the billion-channel universe of the 2020s.

Welcome to Club 1966 – named after the founding and opening year of the BC Sports Hall of Fame 55 years ago.

To give you a preview of Club 1966 and our vision for membership, it’s best described in the words of Canadian branding consultant Jeremy Miller, the founder of Sticky Branding and Membership is the inner circle, but it is only one element in the larger community that the society serves. As Miller writes: “Membership-based organizations that thrive look beyond membership, and connect with members and non-members alike. They build a community that brings people together and provide them with a reason to participate. And that community is what fosters the inner circle to grow and thrive.”

Of course, the restrictions and constraints of the pandemic have redefined participation. And in our post-COVID society (and economy), it will take some time to be able to leverage the lure of participation, one of the grandest expressions of homo sapiens as a social animal.

Yet the pandemic hasn’t stopped the BC Sports Hall of Fame from working hard to pursue stronger connections with members and non-members alike, including through daily outreach on the strength of “On This Day in BC Sports History” and its companion radio segment “This Week in BC Sports History”. Our outreach has included video streaming and virtual meetings with storied Hall of Famers and others.

Building on our Inspiration 2020 strategic plan, we have spent the past couple of years connecting with an inner circle that transcends our Board of Trustees and management team. We’ve made it a priority to extend the family of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, partly by making sure that all of those who have ever been associated with the Society are welcomed back warmly, in one shape or form of another, and for their lifetime!

We’ve approached relations with the BC Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, chaired by Bill Maclagan, the way we should be: As part of the same family. We are separate entities of course, but we like to think we are of razor-sharp common purpose…and family.

We’ve created the Council of Chairs, to date the virtual assembly of all living former Chairs of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. The Board of Trustees remains, of course, our legislative body and governing organ, as it should be and as our By-Laws stipulate. Yet now our Board has another resource; the experience of sport, business and community leaders who have helped make the BC Sports Hall of Fame what it is today. Call it our “Senate”, our advisory council of “elders” or whatever you will, it’s meant to recognize those British Columbians who have led this Society over its 55-year history and to give our Board of Trustees the benefit of what they’ve seen, not only as former Chairs but as leaders in our community. Thanks to former Chair Anna Nyarady for her leadership on this front. We are taking steps to similarly create a “Council of Trustees”, an opportunity to bring together all living former Trustees of the Hall, even if only virtually and or in an annual event each year. Joanie McMaster has accepted the role of Chair of the Council of Trustees. We are also establishing the BC Council of Sports Halls, designed as a collaborative platform for the 40-plus local, regional and sport-specific halls, museums, exhibits and galleries throughout B.C., with Scott Ackles and Jim Hughson serving as inaugural Co-Chairs.

The Foundation Board, the Council of Chairs, the emerging Council of Trustees and the Council of Halls have one thing in common: They are meant to extend our family. They are meant to be our inner circle. They are meant to be the heart of our community. As such, all will be invited to be part of Club 1966, our new membership program.

As you’d expect, all inducted individuals and teams – Honoured Members – will receive the benefits of membership and we’ll offer their families and friends the chance to be fellow members to help give our Society a strong heart that reflects our extraordinary Hall of Famers. Putting it another way, we want to build Club 1966 as a “Supporters Club”, so that all those who hold the Sports Hall and our Honoured Members close to their heart will be inspired to be that inner circle that helps us consistently lean into success.

We plan to reach out to many others in the coming months to invite them to be part of Club 1966. Watch out for the benefits and added value that will be associated with membership in Club 1966. We hope that you consider joining us as well, and when you do, we ask that you help us define the benefits and privileges and experiences that you want to feel; that will make you proud to be a community member of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

With your support, we truly believe that the stronger our inner circle is in the form of Club 1966, the stronger we’ll be as the BC society committed and dedicated to the promotion of BC sports history, heritage and culture.

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and founder and host of The Sport Market sport business radio show, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and Chair of the Paul Carson Sports Broadcast & Media Awards.