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Pursuing New Ideas for Membership Recruitment from Games and Festivals

The Clan Forbes Society is exploring new ways to build its membership. Currently, the Society participates in only about 15 of the approximately 90 highland games and Scottish festivals in the United States. As a result, only about 5% of the new members in the past four years have responded to our presence at these events.

While the Society would like to participate in more in-person Scottish Heritage events around the country, we are limited by the number of volunteers among our members. Our challenge is the same as most other clan and family societies. In order to host a tent at an event, we need local members. However, in order to recruit local members, we need to host a tent at local events. A classic “Catch 22” situation.

Therefore, the Society is considering other options such as sponsoring ads in program books, sending a banner with a QR code, offering flyers, and anything else that would help us gain members that may be willing to host a clan tent at a specific event. We’re planning this now so we can include expenses in our 2024 budget.

In early July, the Society compiled a list of 215 known contacts for highland games and Scottish festivals throughout the United States. They were asked to respond to a brief questionnaire about whether they have a program book with paid advertising and whether they would be willing to distribute flyers or display a QR code for the Society. So far, the Society has received 15 responses.

Of these, four produce a printed program book with advertisements: Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games (Blairsville, GA); Celtic Classic Highland Games & Festival (Bethlehem, PA); Capital District Scottish Games (Altamont, New York), and Florida Keys Celtic Festival (Marathon, FL).

Nine respondents would allow society flyers and/or a small banner with a QR code at their headquarters tent. Two would allow banners in exchange for a sponsorship fee. Eight respondents would allow a society to include a link on games website, even if they cannot find members to sponsor a tent.

Respondents were also asked for ideas on how to identify potential members at their events without hosting a tent. Here are some of the actionable ideas:

  • A social media shout out to potential clan/society members through the games social media channels

  • Distribute business cards with a QR Code or collect information on a contact information sheet

  • Sponsorship of events

The Society is looking for more responses from representatives from other highland games and Scottish festivals. Please take ten minutes to respond to the questionnaire at

The Society is also recruiting other clan and family societies to consider group advertising buys. The plan is to launch this program in January 2024 with specific games and festivals. If you are a representative of a society that would like ot participate, please contact Bart Forbes at Thank you!

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I like the partnering proposal. It expands exposure and can foster good -will.


I am the Clan Coordinator for the Port City Highland Games in Wilmington, NC. I am also the president of The Scottish Society of Wilmington, so I'm on both sides of this. We do not (yet) have a program, but would certainly be open to having a link to the Clan Forbes website. Have you considered partnering with another Clan? I can envision a situation where Clan Forbes would allow Clan X to have a portion of space for their information at one games, then Clan X to do the same for Clan Forbes.

p.s. How do I get our Games (June 1, 2024) on the fabulous list of Games you maintain??

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