Promoting WCHA

I have read this thread with interest. Getting youngsters involved is difficult. Here in the UK the younger generation gravitate towards the thrill of kayaking on whitewater. Those who go for older wooden canoes appear to have to meet several criteria (a) Have a beard (b) Own a Tilley hat (c) Have good disposable income (d) Have space to store and work on the craft (e)An appreciation for the craft. I have tried the discounting of membership which gets people for the first year but then they tend not to renew. (WCHA could think about a continuous direct debit renewal with the offer of a slight discount for repeat membership). I promote at boat shows setting a stall up and showing the craft, literature , books etc. I then talk the hind legs off folks to grab their interest. Trying to extract the equivalent of £42 out of their wallet is a different matter as here all I can offer is 6 copies of a great publication which is Wooden Canoe, a few paddle days, participation in our Facebook group and a beer out of my own pocket when we do get together. For some its seen as good value for others its just another subscription.
I have attendees at paddle days who own wooden canoes but who are not WCHA members and my continued aim is to get them to join and for members to share tips on restoration, projects etc via this forum or Wooden Canoe. What we need to try and promote is a "Plus One" initiative. If we were to ask every current WCHA member to introduce and sign up one new member we double our membership over night. Even a 50% hit rate would make a difference. We all know someone who would join I am sure.

I will be promoting the WCHA at a major canoe event in the Netherlands in September. They and the Germans are keen on wooden canoes so lets have a challenge of extracting some Euro's out of them and get some more overseas members.

Have a great Assembly. This weekend for 2 days I and fellow WCHA-UK member Alick Burt will be promoting the WCHA at a canal restoration project in Norfolk and between us will have 3 vintage canoes with a combined age of about 316 years being a Thomas Gordon, Peterborough Cedar Rib and a Chestnut. Fortunately we are pitched up close to a bar so it won't be arduous. I will post photos of the event. We will raise a beer and toast 40 years of WCHA and wish it many more. Remember "Plus One"!


Chapter Head- UK
I've spent too many years working for small to large marking agencies. My clients included North Face, Marmot, Pearl Izumi, GoLite, etc. Some of these companies like North Face have a hard time reaching Millennials and Gen Z too. Mostly because the brand produces high tech products. They weren't "authentic" enough. This caused North Face to source some locally grown cotton to produce a line of t-shirts. I guess my point here is that even the big boys are havin' trouble marketing to this group.

I work in UX (User Experience) design now. The platforms that are required to reach Millennials and Gen Z are usually Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, etc. They use Facebook only for talking with their parents and grandparents.

Also a couple of things of note:
The attention span for Millennials is 12 seconds, Gen Z, 8 seconds.
Millennials can juggle 3 screens at once. Gen Z can handle 5.
That sounds nuts, but we've tested these users who live in their phones.

On the positive side, these generations are seeking what they call authenticity. A lot of the active social media users have 2 accounts for any given platform. One a curated professional looking account. And the other a more earnest or authentic account. Really strange and sad that they are splitting their lives like this.

If I were to try to reach them I'd perhaps start pushing video and visual content on these platforms. They tend to collect this type of material when they are trying to craft their version of themselves.
As the current President of the WCHA's Board of Directors, I've watched this conversation but not yet weighed in so as not to possibly curtail discussion. Please continue. Open conversation and thoughtful suggestions are always welcome. That said, let me join in now. The Board has been in deep discussion on all of the issues raised here, and most if not all of the suggestions here have been debated. If you attend the Assembly this year, you will hear more in discussions there. If not, you'll certainly hear more soon through Wooden Canoe and this website. A variety of plans are in the works and some important improvements in how we operate are already in place with more being implemented. A few specific points:

First, let me thank Norm Hein for our meeting last weekend in Chattanooga (and for starting this thread). We had a great conversation about the WCHA and its future, and his enthusiasm is infectious. I have no doubt that we will see some new members in Tennessee and Kentucky in the near future, and existing members there becoming even more excited.

A few years ago the Board approved professional builders and restorers giving an one-year membership to customers (as mentioned by Benson), but sadly this mechanism has not been as well utilized as we might have hoped. No criticism of our professional members is intended here, and we have little data on whether those who might receive this one-year membership will become continuing members. Over the years we've also looked at other creative mechanisms of increasing memberships including joint membership with other organizations. These yielded sometimes significant - but only temporary - bumps in membership numbers. Today we are assessing new ways of attracting members, but we also need to focus on member retention. Every current member can help (and happily some great ideas have been expressed here) by encouraging potential members to join and by encouraging existing or past members to re-join. If each of us brought in one new member or got one lapsed member to re-join, the WCHA would be in excellent shape.

Regarding social media, we've got a much better presence on Facebook now thanks to Benson's posting of exciting wooden canoe images. We look forward to this improvement being part of a larger, more comprehensive social media push. Anyone with thoughts or ideas is welcome to contact me. An effective social media committee could do much for the WCHA. Similarly, as many people have suggested for some time now, the website could stand dramatic improvement. This is a topic of very active discussion, and we're working to find a way to make significant improvements in a cost-effective manner. Again, all suggestions are welcome.

Sponsorships and benefactors... this is another area of very active discussion. Any marketing and development experts are welcome to contact me or any other member(s) of the board to discuss ideas and offer help. As Mike indicated, a strong marketing push can be expensive and we simply don't have the budget for a full-blown marketing blitz. We are a small organization without rich coffers. Estate planning as a means of revenue generation is being explored actively. Sponsors and benefactors are under consideration, but as for an "angel", we have yet to find one interested in funding an endowment, for example, to support our niche organization. We're not without hope, though, and we certainly keep this possibility on the table.

Note that we are a membership organization, the leadership and management of which is conducted almost solely by volunteers. All Board members are volunteers, and any given Board of Directors has limited scope of expertise, and we're all in this together. So please continue offering ideas, but also PLEASE volunteer to help bring the most productive ideas to fruition.

Thanks to you all,
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A few random observations –

I think it is fair to say that there are four major focuses of the WCHA and its members beyond our common interest in using and paddling canoes – our journal Wooden Canoe, the Website (especially the forums), the annual Assembly, and the chapters.

The forums seem to have two main focuses of interest by members/users – history and construction/renovation/repair.

As to history, the main focus seems to be – what is my canoe? Once that question is answered, one motive for coming to the forums is basically gone.

As to construction/renovation/repair, mostly those who are pretty active in such activity have a continuing motive to come to the forums. But the person who buys a new canoe from one of our builders, or finishes restoring a canoe to be used, has much less of a motive to keep coming once a serviceable canoe is in hand. While for some, the Website is “far and away the most important and valuable benefit of being part of this org . . .,” it seems that for most of our members, it probably is not. That said, however, it is nonetheless probably the most important feature of the organization to draw in new members – like many others, I learned of the WCHA through the website, and I learned of it simply by stumbling on it. But I think only a small percentage of our membership visits the site frequently and regularly.

I don’t have any numbers (I don’t know if they exist) but my sense is that the number of frequent, ongoing, participants in the forums is quite small, and the number of other less-frequent repeat visitors and lurkers/stalkers is also quite small – I would bet only a hundred or two all told.

So while the Website is an invaluable asset and service, and while it may be a significant source for new members, I would guess that it is of only occasional value to most members.

As to use of the Website by Board members, at least one – my wife, Deborah Gardner – though not herself a frequent user of the forums (and never really has), is kept apprised by me of anything that would be of interest – but her chief interest is not in how canoes are built/restored. Of course, she has always been an active member of the WCHA, including being very active in running our store at the Assembly. But there is little to draw her interest to the Website on a frequent basis.

Wooden Canoe is the one thing that all our members have in common (something my wife has always read). Over the last several years it has become more attractive – larger, full color, innovative editing. But getting articles of interest has been like pulling teeth – our members certainly have lots of interesting knowledge, activities, and experience, but getting them to write for the journal has always been a real problem. How many of you writing to contribute to this conversation have written anything for Wooden Canoe?

And it is expensive – it is the single most expensive activity of the organization. We may see a downsizing in pages and/or color pages in the future – the alternative is a raise in dues, something that always produces grumbling and some loss of members. Surplus copies are often distributed at boat shows and exhibits, and may draw in a few new members.

The Assembly, of course, has always been a major highlight of the WCHA. In our early days, it was perhaps the central activity of the organization. Drawn to it are not just members who restore, build, and/or collect canoes, but also those whose chief interest is in just using canoes – for fun, for adventure, for social activity. It can draw non-members to it, especially when we get good media coverage as we did last year in Canada or sometime in the past at Paul Smiths, but the draw is only of local folks, and probably does not draw in new members. The Assembly generally makes some money for the organization through the auction/raffle and store.

The chapters have been a mixed bag – some are very active, while others less so, and some are essentially dormant. The active groups certainly welcome new members, but with one or two exceptions, most of their activities are not designed to actively draw in new members, and as noted above, some of the chapters have members who are not WCHA members.

I have always been puzzled by how very few free memberships our professional builders have given away to customers. Such free memberships would not be great in number, but still . . ..

As Rob and others above have noted, the decline in membership, and the difficulty in drawing in new members, has been a serious concern of the board for quite a few years, and several things have been tried to reverse the trend, without a great deal of success. We are not alone in having difficulty in attracting new members, especially younger members. The younger demographic is just not as interested in the outdoors and outdoor activities, at least not in the same way we older folk have been, and the WCHA is not the only organization having considerable trouble attracting younger members.

Using social media may be part of the answer – I don’t know because I don’t much use the various options available, and I think I am not alone in this.

Almost any initiative takes time and effort by one or more people, and some also take money -- all of which are, unfortunately in short supply.

Just some thoughts – no solutions.

Thank you for your illuminating post. I hope that discussion becomes action.
Discussion at a board level should provide clear objectives that then must become an outline for a plan. It has been my experience both in business and in other volunteer groups that anything that does not have a plan with clear objectives and an owner will become an academic exercise. Committees are useful to drive actions once plans exist but otherwise tend to become churn factories.
If there is board level consensus that sponsorship or endowments are part of the ongoing WCHA plan then someone needs to own making a plan to pursue that. I am not sure if the current board has anyone with the experience to flesh that out? Presumably the answer is yes. It would take very little time to identify possible businesses, organizations who might have an interest in the survival of the WCHA. They might equally benefit from the visibility and recognition that we should offer them in return for their support. I am certain that you are already generating a list in your mind as you read this...since you are also a hands on hobbyist you already know where to start.

Family endowments are another interesting thought that should have a plan with ownership and deliverables. Is there a way to reach out to our existing members and remind them that the WCHA should be remembered by them when they "shuffle off this mortal coil?" Is there a process? What would it be and how do we communicate it? Anyone that went to prep school or college has some familiarity with this timeless tool for sustaining an organization. Figure out how to get Howie to hand over the sack of cash he has under his bed!

I'm motivated to do what I've often planned to do and I will enroll both of my sons in the WCHA. I'm not quite sure why I never have? Others might do the same so yes, add one member per member is a good idea...but it is not enough.

Websites...if I had a dollar for every time that I was involved in a discussion about making a new and improved website for one of my businesses I would have been able to retire when I was 50 instead of 60. It's a red herring. Unless there is a very specific well managed plan with clear objectives web design is a death by committee opportunity and a money pit. A way to avoid having the members fund this is to allow some degree of commercialization and allow advertisers to pay as they go to help underwrite the costs. In a three year plan for this organization it should be out there way behind retention, recruitment and funding... in my opinion.

I agree that Benson is doing a great job of using Facebook to publish interesting canoe related content. I have really enjoyed the pictures. But as has already been said, Facebook is the Geritol Generations social media feed. And has also been noted, the current generation jumps around on social media platforms the way fleas jump around on a dirty rug.
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Mike - You are correct that discussion must lead to action if improvement is to be made. We have a LOT of discussion, but we are also taking action, just as boards have done in the past. But the present state of affairs calls for decisive action in new directions given the facts that (1) even with past efforts we still find ourselves with shrinking membership and larger budget, and (2) this is a very different world from the one of the 1979/1980.

Expertise and volunteerism (meaning volunteerism by experts) is critical in a volunteer organization such as ours. If anyone can suggest possibly altruistic member experts, please do. Experts in estate planning, major gifts, membership, web design, social media, etc. Such experts will go a long way toward timely execution of plans. And yes, we have a growing list of potential sponsors, and some inroads have been made... but much more needs to be done.

Finally, I'm not sure what to make of the comment about the website. Those of us who use the website daily understand it and can navigate effectively, plus we appreciate the regular improvements in functionality and appearance over the website's history. That said, we hear regularly from new interested visitors that the website could be dramatically improved, and from existing members and site users about some significant functionality issues. Thus the idea of website redesign isn't about polish; its about significant improvement. However, the kind of improvement we're talking about costs money, so this is another place where volunteerism and/or benefaction are very important.
Those who go for older wooden canoes appear to have to meet several criteria (a) Have a beard (b) Own a Tilley hat (c) Have good disposable income (d) Have space to store and work on the craft (e)An appreciation for the craft
As a new member who only joined about 6 months ago I thought I'd share a few thoughts. I meet 4 of the 5 criteria Blott mentioned. Item (e) came about because of this forum and its members, (d) is quickly going from 'yes' to 'no', and as for (a), that would be an unwelcome surprise.

How/Why I became a member:
I was looking for a project boat, a little runabout, or something similar when I stumbled across a wood and canvas canoe for sale near me on Craigslist. I'd never seen one in the wild, or even paddled one (though I have paddled/own other types of canoes and kayaks). I was trying to decide if I should buy it and if I actually had the capability to restore it and a quick internet search lead me to this forum where a number of helpful people helped me figure out what it was and what it would be worth. This gave me the confidence to understand it and buy it. I felt that the support I had received, and would need as I started restoring it, was easily worth $40 so I joined - even though I could tell that if I continued posting questions they would be answered by the helpful people on this forum even without joining WCHA.

Generating interest in Wooden Canoes (or anything for that matter):
I think that people are most likely to become interested in something they learn about through personal connections or experience. If someone shows me their canoe and tells me about how they restored it, or lets me paddle one, their enthusiasm will be infectious and I might become interested enough to own/restore one myself. If I see someone wearing a hat or t-shirt - not so much. It won't be merchandise, logos, shiny websites or even free memberships that will drawn people in (though if done poorly they may be a deterrent), it will be the people here and their passion for wooden canoes. If (when?) I am successful at restoring the canoe I first purchased from Craigslist it will in most part be because of a few key WCHA members - who I won't embarrass here - that have been willing to come and look at the canoe in my garage and give me advice, allowed me to watch them canvas their own canoes, offered help and suggestions through direct messages on this forum, and answered frequent text messages about seemingly simple and random topics. Of course these people are also responsible for me buying a second canoe, but in general they are a good influence. :)

Creating/Restoring things is cool!
I personally know Millennials that have taught themselves leather crafts, run a businesses doing antique book restoration, and created a successful business as a "flower farmer". Look at the explosion in the "maker" movement, maker spaces ( or the popularity of websites like ( I believe that younger people embrace the idea of creating/restoring things. WCHA just needs to meet them where they are at and help them see the possibilities.

Social media
A necessary evil, but also a tool. It shouldn't fall all to a few people to provide and share content. We all need to think about ways to contribute, using the platforms we are comfortable with, and WCHA should think about ways to make that easy. I'm not on Facebook (by choice, not because I don't understand how it works!), but I am on Instagram and Snapchat because those are the platforms that my children and friends use. When I go camping and there is no signal, I'm thrilled, but otherwise I use those platforms to stay connected, because no one wants a text message (or - egad! - email) with a photo attached anymore. The real question is, how does WCHA build opportunities for members, and non-members to share and promote content easily?

The website
It comes up well on a computer, but it doesn't come up well on mobile devices. With limited resources, put the effort into making it more mobile friendly and I bet that many of the functionality issues/complaints will be resolved.

Then (s)he got an idea. An awful idea. The Grinch/me had a wonderful, awful idea.
I am idea person, I've grown comfortable with that label and putting dumb ideas out there... so here goes...

How do you get a whole group of people who don't know about wooden canoes, to at least know they exist and appreciate their timelessness and beauty, while generating opportunities for social media and publicity? You take one on tour! Start in Maine. Take a reasonably-sized, not-too-valuable wood and canvas canoe and carefully document its restoration. Paint it an eye-catching color. Make some "Ask me about paddling this canoe" transferable magnetic car decals. Create an Instagram account and a hashtag for it so people that see it, or paddle it, can record their own reactions on social media. Develop a "publicity tour" for it - traveling through Canada and the US - where WCHA members/volunteers pick it up and pass it from member to member to bring it to their community for people to see and paddle (local chapters, paddling clubs, friends, high school groups, etc). Publish and release its itinerary. Take pictures of all types of people paddling it and post them to social media. Drive around with it on your car. Create some talking points so it's easy for members to do interviews with hometown newpapers along the way. Have a guest book that accompanies it for people who have paddled it to record their thoughts and impressions. Sell raffle tickets (online) along the way. When it's made its way back to Maine, raffle it off as a fundraiser for WCHA- probably the world's most well traveled canoe. This idea would take initial effort, and coordination, but not a lot of money, and it would hit a whole new demographic. Who's in? :)

... please don't cancel my membership.....
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Shari above brings up Instagram. I just looked up what the WCHA has. Seems Annie started a page and has one picture? A thought might be to get a couple "volunteers" to be admins to the page with her. Maybe brings this up at a meeting at the Assembly. A couple people running a page is better option IMO so more things can be posted. This is the case where myself and Kathy run the Gerrish Facebook page ( Can I get some more likes?). Unfortunately not much gets posted on that either but I do what I can.
Let me play the devil's advocate briefly on this issue. The WCHA was founded when small organizations with paid membership for a newsletter/magazine were the most common way for people interested in niche topics like wooden canoes to exchange ideas and pictures. The arrival of the internet has changed that situation dramatically. Now people have a huge number of ways to get and share information about the most obscure topics at virtually no cost. The WCHA has made a conscious choice to limit advertising in the Journal and on the web site because there were paying members who would cover the bills. That may need to change.

This became very clear to me a few years ago when I got an old tractor. It didn't take long for me to have questions about parts and service. A quick search located which had the information that I was seeking. I didn't pay a membership but it has lots of annoying advertising. The WCHA may need to consider alternative funding sources like this and others in the future. Let me quickly add that one of the things I appreciate most about this forum is the lack of advertising.

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............The WCHA has made a conscious choice to limit advertising in the Journal and on the web site because there were paying members who would cover the bills. That may need to change.

This became very clear to me a few years ago when I got an old tractor. It didn't take long for me to have questions about parts and service. A quick search located which had the information that I was seeking. I didn't pay a membership but it has lots of annoying advertising. The WCHA may need to consider alternative funding sources like this and others in the future. Let me quickly add that one of the things I appreciate most about this forum is the lack of advertising.


Benson...the reality is that the cost is there and with membership down and costs up all reasonable solutions should be considered. I have quite a few hobbies including several shooting sports. One of the related websites I participate in has a large advertising banner that serves as a background. It changes from time to time depending upon the advertiser. If you drift into the white space and click you open their content. It's not intrusive. Within the forums there are also small advertisements that appear. Again, if you click on these you will open that content. It's not too bad. You get used to it. I agree with you that one of the nice things here is that advertisements are not present but If they were I think we'd get used to it...especially if they help to pay the bills. I could easily reconcile having a major sporting goods company or a legacy paint or hardware supplier place nice ads here if they help us to keep the lights on.
I’m a “builder/supplier” and have been for the last 12 years, and probably more. I never received any info about memberships for my customers unless it was something I overlooked. I recall another member mentioning it once a few years ago, but I was never contacted about it.
With builder/ suppliers restoring hundreds of canoes collectively each year, the membership could increase. Not all would continue on, but some probably would.
If I was sent a packet of stuff in this regard, I would certainly sign up my customers..
Yes Dave , I never new anything about it either. We'll have to find out if it's even still an option. I guess if I'm getting thousands of dollars for a restoration I could squeeze out $40 bucks to give a customer a membership.... but a free trial membership would be nice.
Hi Dave and Dave - to clarify, this membership promotion was meant to be publicized to all professional builders, restorers and suppliers listed as such (meaning they paid for a pro builder membership and are listed in the WCHA's builder's and supplier's directory). The promotion makes available up to 5 memberships per year to their customers. At various times Dan Miller and Lew Markle were to contact all listed pro builders and suppliers to promote this membership drive. Given that both of you are listed as pro builders/suppliers, contact Annie Burke directly and she will get you set up. It's great that you're eager to promote membership among your customers. The intention of this program is to increase long-term membership in the WCHA by promoting its values to non-members who are otherwise investing in their wooden canoe interests, so hopefully those joining through this program will remain WCHA members following their first year.

Thank you - Michael
I think that selling ads on our website and in our journal is one of the easiest and best ways to raise desperately needed income. It might also be a way of reaching new potential membersw.

Take a look at some other websites with ads -- the ads need not be obtrusive. For example, the WoodenBoat Magazine forum <> has an ad space at the bottom of every page -- it is fairly unobtrusive and does not interfere with using that forum. When ads were started there, , there was a small amount of grumbling, but so what? I doubt anyone stopped visiting that forum because of the ads, and I presume that the income generated is one thing that keeps that forum alive.

We already have some paid ads in Wooden Canoe -- I doubt that anyone is offended by these .

A policy can be established limiting the content and appearance of ads -- perhaps with a panel of non-curmudgeons to review potential ads.

Further, we might be able to use those who post or print ads as outreach points -- if a company or organization has an ad in our journal, perhaps we could provide it with a number of copies of that journal to distribute as it sees fit?

Further, we might consider providing copies of the journal (with a membership application inserted), either for sale or for free distribution, to congenial operations -- the Adirondack Museum, one or more of Maine's maritime museums, and sympatico commercial ventures. I believe this has been tried on a very limited scale for a short time in the past, but I don't know what has happened with this.


Rob Renseler's Membership Report a couple of years ago indicated that one of the main reasons people left the WCHA was dissatisfaction with the nature and amount of local activities -- lack of paddling opportunities and chapter activites (and in some cases, apparently unwelcoming local chapters). We need to encourage chapter activity, not just to keep current members, but also to recruit new members. And that activity needs to go bey9ond building/restoration activity, as it does in our most successful and active chapters.

Those of us on the forums tend to be folks interested in canoe restoration and building. But the primary interests of many of our members lie elsewhere.
There are many potential member who have only a small interest in restoring or collecting w/c canoes, but who might have considerable interest in using them -- day excursions, camping trips, use as a boat at a summer cottage, etc.

I suspect that many WCHA families reflect this differential -- how many of our own families have one member who likes working on a canoe, while the rest of the family likes using the canoe, but has no interest in actually working on one? I bet that is the case with the families of most who are participating in this discussion.

I believe that there are many folks, especially younger folks, who have minimal interest in restoring a w/c canoe, but who would have substantial interest in using one. We need to connect with this group if we are to grow, or even just continue to exist.

Further, I am afraid that our pubic image all to often is one of exclusiveness -- nothing but a wooden canoe is acceptable. We have to change that.

It does not take much imagination to figure that there are lots of families out there where all of the family likes, or even loves canoeing, but none of them want to do much work on one -- l0ok at how many families own plastic canoes. We have to figure out how to reach and engage them.

If we don't, we are not likely to survive.
Advertising is another in the variety of things the Board is actively working on. Limited, unobtrusive ads on the website could bring in funds and solidify connections with corporate partners, and an increase in advertising revenues from Wooden Canoe would help offset the high cost of publication. At present an extremely small amount of the journal's funding comes from advertising, but that could change without altering the look of the magazine in any significant way (i.e., without filling it with ads). What would help is volunteerism from someone experienced in advertising and/or sales to help plan an effective advertising strategy and to grow advertising revenues. Potential volunteers - please contact anyone on the Board ( Thank you in advance!
I used to have a scuba diving club and we were a member of the NJ council of diving clubs. It always seems to be that 10% of the people do 90% of the work in these things. I don't think that will change much. It's ok I give a lot of credit to that 10% we need them. It's finding time. With both my daughters in college it's tough. My dad always said in the end it won't be money you wish you had more of it will be time. I think filling in with some ads will work fine. Maybe we could get some big marine supply stores to sign up.
Circling back to Shari's suggestion of a wooden canoe road show...interesting. Our company used to do road shows for products. They worked pretty well but we spent a great deal of time planning them so that there was an audience present when we showed up to do the dog and pony. Some local chapters already do their own mini version of this attending local canoeing events, fairs etc. I think many will agree that these offer mixed results. Folks will stop and gawk and admire but it's not very likely that someone new will join the hobby from such an exposure. Your best bet is to create awareness with folks that may have or know of wooden canoes and perhaps inspire them to do something with them. Or at a minimum help them see potential value in them.
I've been around wooden canoes for over 55 years...yes, back to when the fix for wooden canoes was to glass them. Back to when they became obsolete and were replaced by superior modern materials. From my experience it is next to impossible to get folks into this hobby if a wooden canoe was not part of their life experiences growing raise lots of kids and teach them to paddle wooden canoes! ;)
More seriously, of all of my friends, paddling and outdoors partners and work acquaintances, none have ever stepped into this hobby. One of them owns a canoe we built together and his sister has a (very nice) canoe that I sold her...but except for them and my two sons no one I have encountered has decided to get involved in building, restoration or even paddling WC based upon my influence. I sure hope the rest of you have been more successful!
What I will say has always drawn interest is using my boats. People are drawn to wooden canoes. If you own them, use them. Take them out and paddle them. Stop and answer questions. Let folks give them a try if they show an interest. Become your own mini roadshow. If you are collecting canoes that never see the light of day...take one out for a spin where folks will see it. Take that most special one that you are afraid to scratch and tell folks about it if they ask. And if there is an interest, tell them about the WCHA and offer them your help.
As I sit and re-read this old thread I wonder if the ball has been moved down the field?
Is there a three year plan for the WCHA or a plan for 2020?
What is it? How was it prioritized? Are there actions and owners? Where can we see it?
Membership dues were increased. A year-end fund-raising letter was posted on FB and emailed (it landed in my spam folder).
Was that part of a cohesive plan that our board is executing? What else is part of that plan? Where is the WCHA focused?
There were some very good suggestions made in this thread and some of us volunteered ourselves in support of these suggestions.
Now what?
Good question. As with many "voluntary associations", the dynamics are complex.
For me, it seems to evolve organically.

The direction or control applied by the Board isn't always evident. I do know they now meet at least monthly by telephone conferencing. Each Board member has a "portfolio" or area of responsibility. I think it would help to have these listed with their contact information at the front of "Wooden Canoe", the one consistent communication with members, but only if they read it. (Not all members access these Forums either, not participate in the "Fans of the WCHA" and Chapter versions on Facebook).

I wonder if there is a better way to communicate ongoing issues and developments more frequently than (now less frequent issues of) "Wooden Canoe" and the Report to the Annual General Meeting. The "President's Message" section in WC often identifies issues, but doesn't lay out the plan or indicators of success/resolution.

Chapters have a lot of autonomy. I was somewhat shocked to learn at a Chapters Meeting at Assembly, that many people who participate in the local Chapters are NOT Members of the "parent" organization. Of course, that leads to the question of what those people get at the local level that they don't get from the larger organization. There are plenty of answers, including distance and feelings of intimacy and connectedness.

Timing is an issue. Many Chapters host more frequent, purposeful gatherings (some as often as weekly). Physical distance from the site of the Annual Assembly is an oft mentioned factor, which has been somewhat remedied by the now widespread Regional
"Mini-Assemblies". Very importantly, many Chapters have booths or displays at regional, national and international canoeing events.

Much of what rolls out as WCHA activity depends on the voluntary energy and creativity of largely self-selected individuals. Their availability, capacity and motivation vary over time. When these go down, there isn't always someone else who steps up to carry the ball. Replacing and maintaining members is the key. Volunteers, to be effective, need ongoing support and encouragement. The WCHA benefits from a lot of unseen voluntary contributors.

From my perspective, I know that WCHA Staff provide more value than they are compensated for. Executive Director Annie Burke is an anchor. We will shortly have a new Editor, replacing Dan Miller -who was also the Webmaster, that role now being covered in the interim by resident IT geek, Benson Gray. Jeanne Griffin-Greene continues to oversee the WCHA Store -both online and at Annual Assembly.

I do a lot of outreach and promotion of Annual Assembly. Fortunately, communications are a lot easier with the advent to e-mail, websites and social media.
It also takes time and effort to connect with print and online media, as well as develop and maintain ongoing relationships with folks at like-minded groups, organizations, museums, etc who have similar or overlapping mandates as the WCHA. These include; The American Canoeing Association, Paddling Canada, The Adirondack Experience (formerly the ADK Museum), The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum, The Canadian Canoe Museum, Wooden Boat, etc.

Rob Stevens
former Board Member, current Program Coordinator, Annual Assembly (voluntary role)