1. GREAT: Museums and cultural institutions.
Why: They attract wealthy donors, displaying names on plaques and lists. Those donors attend events to see how their money is being spent.
Cost: Low. Annual membership might be $50.
Pros: They usually have exhibition openings or events on a monthly basis.
Cons: Very few.
2. GREAT: Medical and social service charities.
Why: They are worthy causes helping people in need. Include animal shelters and libraries in this category.
Cost: Low. If they don’t have dues, you are probably giving to the annual fund.
Pros: They have events and fundraisers. You can serve on organizing committees.
Cons: The events aren’t as frequent.
3. GREAT: Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations.
Why: They are designed for networking.
Cost: Likely a couple of hundred dollars a year. Not as cheap as you might imagine.
Pros: You can raise your visibility in the community. They have lots of events.
Cons: There’s likely stiff competition in your field. Attending many events takes time.
4. GREAT: Your religious organization.
Why: You likely attend anyway. It attracts a cross section of the community. You are raising your visibility. People will figure out what you do.
Cost: Low. You likely put money in the collection plate on a weekly basis.
Pros: Weekly services, often followed by a coffee hour. There’s a weekly bulletin.
Cons: Delivery. You can’t be pitching people.
5. GOOD: Your alumni association.
Why: The “Old School Tie” can be pretty strong for some people, binding them to the school throughout their lives. High school counts, too.
Cost: Not too bad. You are primarily writing a check for the annual fund.
Pros: It attracts a cross section, from wealthy older graduates who’ve made it all the way through newer graduates just starting out.
Cons: If your school is nearby, there are lots of alumni events on campus. If it’s distant, there might only be a chapter that meets for a monthly lunch.
6. GOOD: Homeowners associations and community meetings.
Why: If you live in a nice area, chances are your neighbors are in the same economic bracket.
Cost: Not much, if anything. You are already paying homeowner’s association dues.
Pros: They have monthly meetings, usually in the evening.
Cons: Those meetings can go on forever.
7. OK: Hospitals.
Why: They are a major draw for the great and the good. Buildings are named after them. They are great at cultivating deep pocketed donors.
Cost: If they saved your life, a check with many zeros is considered appropriate. Getting into the right giving tier offering events to mingle with big donors will likely cost $1,000 a year and up.
Pros: They have events like galas, golf outings and lectures.
Cons: In addition to your annual contribution, gala tickets might cost several hundred dollars apiece.
8. OK: Country clubs.
Why: They historically attract a wealthy clientele seeking to interact with like-minded people.
Cost: High. There are initiation fees, plus expenses like monthly minimum spends at the bar or in the restaurants.
Pros: You have access to a HNW audience.
Cons: This can become very expensive.
9. OK: Special interest clubs.
Why: People who can afford a hobby like classic cars like to socialize with others sharing the same passion. These passions often require significant discretionary income.
Cost: High. You need the “playing piece.” Your vintage Jag can’t always be “in the shop.”
Pros: They usually have plenty of events to socialize and get to know each other through a shared passion.
Cons: You need to lay out money to buy the “playing piece” and more money to keep it maintained.
You might think high-net-worth individuals live in gated communities, dine at their country clubs and only socialize among themselves. It’s far more likely your local senior executives, business owners and professionals are actively involved in the local community. Why? As you climb the social ladder, there comes a point when many people choose to give back. This provides your opportunity to drink, mingle and volunteer alongside them.
There are many ways you can give back, but if you want to also be in a position to cultivate future business, you want certain types of organizations. The ideal ones attract high-net-worth individuals, provide opportunities to meet many of them at once, have high visibility in the community and leave a positive impression — you don’t want to get involved in a divisive issue that could alienate potential clients.
Is passion important?
Your first thought is: “Yes, otherwise, they will think I’m a phony.” You are wrong. If that were the case, only art history majors would join art museums and people with low handicaps would join golf clubs. You know that’s not the case! As long as you have a sincere interest or an open mind and a desire to learn, you should find the atmosphere welcoming.
In the gallery above are four examples of organizations that closely fit the four criteria described above, two where the positives outweigh the negatives, and three that attract wealthy prospects but have major drawbacks. You don’t need to do them all! Find a few that are a good match for you.
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