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New Club

gregory l cooper (K0OPG) on November 12, 2018
View comments about this article!

There are a group of us Hams that are not quite satisfied with the current club and it's lack of direction. the club has gone from 50+ members to 10?

Myself and some others are considering starting a new club in the town we live in.

I am wanting ideas, guidelines and requirements to start a new club. Links to web pages would be also be helpful. I have already started doing research but any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Member Comments:
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New Club  
by KF4HR on November 12, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Consider putting together a survey and sending to the local hams to find out what their interests are, then building your club activities around their common interests.
 
RE: New Club  
by K9MHZ on November 12, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Greg, instead of a club, form a special interest group and go with that. Have a weekly lunch with different locations on a list, so even the restaurants don't get old. Don't formalize, it drives people nuts. Just decide on some common interest directions for the group and make them the basis of your group's activities. And don't get suckered into providing comm coverage for every 3K run in town. It's boring and people won't help.

Good luck.
 
RE: New Club  
by KE7FD on November 12, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Greg, great comments so far. I'm coming off a second and last term as president of W.A.S.H. (n3sh.org) and could say quite a few things but will dilute them down to what I think is the one key element to a successful club: Make it FUN!

Part of the decline of any club membership anywhere might be paralleled to repeater usage: declining as well in most areas. There is a certain amount of boredom yaking about the daily commute to and from work, what's for dinner, who's gonna be here or there, yada yada yada... But participation on a weekly net can be improved by finding someone who really likes to run the net, not appointed and dreading the assignment.

Don't have a net? OK, then taping into an earlier comment, special interest groups but I'll add, within the club. We have a small group who likes to operate QRP from local parks on a Saturday (WX permitting), but anyone is invited. A few hours and then off to other honey-do tasks. Another runs contests from differing locations, like [our] PA QSO party. Afterwards, they did a dog and pony slide show which was really cool about lessons learned, funny stories and the like, resulting in bolstering interest with other members.

Did you know that hospitals are required by law to have other sources to communicate? We're partnered with a local hospital who was eager to hoist our repeater antenna atop their tower. We conduct periodic SET's with them to help keep everyone's skills sharp.

Our meetings will also have some hands on, presentations by invited speakers, and a pizza party once a year.

But keep it fun, displace the notion that:
* Might makes right,
* That politics is part of the equation

There's probably lots of other things to fill in the gaps but you probably already know about those things.

One other thing we've done is to become a not-for-profit club. If you have a CPA in the group or can sit down with one, discuss that topic and how it might work for your club.

73 and have fun!
Glen - KE7FD
 
New Club  
by ALPHONSE on November 12, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
A year or so after I moved to the suburbs from the city I received a post card from a couple of hams in town inviting me and every other ham in town for a meet-and-greet at the library.

Out of 60+ hams 15 showed up and we enjoyed each others company. We kept it going and did not bother with by-laws, business meetings, committees, or other foo-fraw.

We simply became a group of friends. Possibly because we ditched the library for a bar and grill.
 
RE: New Club  
by PU2OZT on November 12, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
You might want to keep everyone involved in making stuff, such as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTp0NDPDUks
which % space is dedicated to radio or anything, that's up to you, your partners, members, relatives, subject to mood and trends.
My humble opinion is that to keep enjoying gathering week after week, people have to build something together, an endless sharing experience.

Oliver
 
New Club  
by WB4M on November 12, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Forget about an organized club, you don't need one. You'll eventually have the same problems; some members will want this and others want that. Find hams that share the same interests, such as portable, or QRP, or digitial, FM, whatever, and hang out with them.
 
RE: New Club  
by JAZZMAN on November 12, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
I would agree WB4M. Find like minded people and get together with them it does not have to be formal just have fun. So much is on the internet now that used to actually come from a club setting where you couldn't get it anywhere else. Times change. Good Luck!!
 
RE: New Club  
by WO7R on November 13, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
I was just elected President of a club that has been going strong since the 1970s.

The organizing interest happens to be DX, but I don't think that is vital to its success. Any other interest could be as good.

It certainly doesn't have much to do with me. All I aim to do is pass it on to the next group of leaders when my time is done.

No, what is vital is that we give members a real stake in what is going on. We provide a few services (such as Outgoing QSLs). We provide some friendly activities to spark interest. We have a banquet and a BBQ every year for reasonable prices without losing money.

Above all, we have good programs at our monthly meeting. OK, they vary like everything else in life, but most of them must be good, because people from a good 50 mile radius regularly drag themselves out of the house to come hear our speakers. Some speakers join us via Skype.

I'm sure there are other formulas for success. A local club, organized around repeaters and an annual Field Day, was formed less than five years ago and seems to be doing well.

If there is any magic in clubs, I would suggest that it is anything that excites members enough to contribute, or at least to show up and keep the thing alive.

Whether you form a new one or figure out how to revive the old one, I would suggest concentrating on these things.

Oh, and one more thing. Make sure there is regular turnover on the board. I've known a lot of non-amateur organizations that have this small, hardy band that runs it forever. But, inevitably, such a group all too often runs out of gas and runs out of reasons to go on.

I knew an amateur theatrics organization that was losing steam. But, a bunch of members got together and managed to take over the (becoming moribund) board. Stagnation ended, organization was good for another 20 years.
 
RE: New Club  
by N4KZ on November 13, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting programs for club meetings and lots of social time at meetings and at off-site events, like a club Christmas party. These are vital. Do not make the mistake of having a long business meeting and think that's interesting to most members. It's not. Have an executive committee handle club business. Make sure programs are 20 minutes long -- max! Not every program will be of interest to everyone so it's vital to limit every presentation to 20 minutes. I've belonged to several clubs that violated these concepts and eventually I dropped out because attending meetings was akin to getting a cavity filled. I once joined a Rotary club that had no programs at its weekly meetings. Boring. So I foolishly volunteered to be program coordinator. I had all kinds of speakers -- from the governor to local authors, TV news anchors, and more. A bunch of members told me they began looking forward to meetings instead of dreading them as they had in the past. Good luck.
 
New Club  
by K6CRC on November 13, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
I have started to get involved with several different interest clubs, one for a brand of old car, one for audio, and two for hams.
I am not really a joiner, so have not spent a lot of time with any of them. But, I do have some suggestions, gleaned from running organizations at work and in the community.
1. Do something each month. Cars are easy, just organize a drive on a fun road ending with lunch. For Hams, it could be a tour of a Radio or TV station, a museum, or even a picnic with a field station set up.
2. Limit the talk time in any meeting. No matter HOW good or interesting the President is, 45 minutes needs to be the limit. Keep the formal meeting to less than an hour and a half. My years of tech instruction taught me that. Lots of breaks for people to chat among themselves.
3. Depending on the situation, a charity event gets people together. Fun run, dog parade, etc.

Clubs need to cull those who continually create problems for others. Let them create their own groups and destroy each other.

You will undoubtedly have 'difficult' members. Loud, strong political or religious opinions, obnoxious personal habits, etc. Tough to do, but someone needs to pull them aside. Fix it or dont' come back needs to be the message. Otherwise, visitors just don't return, and member just stop showing up. That goes for board people also.

If you are not a 'joiner' keep it simple. Half dozen like minded friend meet for a beer or breakfast regularly.


 
New Club  
by LA9XNA on November 13, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
If your current club is declining it might be a idea to think about revitalizing it. A typical sign of a stagnant club is that the number of members are declining.
1. Try to get some fresh bodies in to the club management.
2. Take the initiative for actvityes like kit building, antenna building or testing, Technical lectures.
3. Try active to recrute new members, espesialy persons that are "doers" and younger people.
4. The best way to get a club goning again is to replace some of the board,so volantair to be on the electronics comitty.
 
RE: New Club  
by KJ4DGE on November 13, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Ditto K9MHZ's remarks..


Informal get together's are the best approach. because its informal people will be more relaxed and open in conversation. You can also get people to go if you vary the location each time as some may be too far away or just inconvenient to attend. Get together on a simplex frequency on a regular basis then you don't have to tie up a club repeater. Start a yahoo or other group for your area.

Lots of ways to get a group together without it being in need of cash to maintain a repeater. Nothing wrong with the later but alternatives exist.


 
New Club  
by WV4L on November 13, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
In addition to our monthly business meeting the club I belong to also has an "Activities" night. This is an informal gathering and can include a presentation which may not have occured at the regular meeting. It is also used to familiarize individuals with hands on experience with the different equipment in our radio rooms. Some individuals are Tech class and this gives them an opportunity to operate HF equipment that they might not otherwise have made a purchase of. It also gives time to demonstrate other modes like CW and digital to spark interest in different modes other than just ragchewing on a repeater.
 
RE: New Club  
by KA4GFY on November 13, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
If you can make it work, re-vitalizing the current club is a great idea.

Some time ago, our club went through a similar situation. The club's only direction was emergency communications because that is all the president was interested in. As a result, attendance at meetings was down to about 4 or 5 people. Membership was less than 10.

A few of us staged the proverbial "palace coup" and voted out the president. We took over the club leadership positions and started making changes.

We started out by scheduling more technical programs, teaching licensing classes to recruit new members, exam sessions, showing up at hamfests with our club banner on the table in the flea market, club shirts and hats. Basically anything to make ourselves visible. People actually walked up to us and said they were surprised to see us because they were told our club didn't exist anymore.

Now, our club has 65 members and growing. Attendance at meetings is usually 30 to 40 people each month.

The biggest secret we have seen is good programs. Ask the members what they want to hear about at meetings. If another area club has a project they are working on, ask them to give a talk at yours about it. Most people are more than happy to make a presentation about their projects. All you have to do is ask.

The toughest job in the club is the program chairman. Our program chairman is constantly looking for new ideas for programs. Send out an email and ask what topics interest the members. If your club renews membership at the same time each year, hand everybody a piece of paper asking for program ideas. It doesn't always have to be directly ham radio related. You can also search the internet for programs other clubs have done on various subjects. I have done that and found some great programs. Be sure to ask the author if it's OK to use it.

Another source is in-house programs. Club members are always working on some kind of project. Ask them to give a talk. We have had some great programs from club members. Again, just ask.

We do have groups that get together for informal lunch or dinner. The retired folks do lunch and the ones still working do dinner.

We have done field trips to local museums and other activities.

Every organization goes through ups and downs. As somebody above said, try to get new blood in the leadership. Our club started enforcing term limits on club officers (we had them in the bylaws, but didn't enforce them). Appoint a nominating committee at election time and ask some of the newer members to serve in the leadership positions.
73,
Rich, KA4GFY




 
New Club  
by VE3KKQ on November 14, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
As a person who has moved around my country and wanting to be part of the local ham club, I think that you would be very wise to have someone in your soon to be club who is responsible for making sure that new members are made to feel welcome. Every club I have attempted to join is made up of hams who have known each other for quite some time and seem to be ambivalent that a new face is in the group. Consequently I have never belonged to a ham club, although the best group of hams I was associated with was a group of 10 to 15 hams who did not want a club we called ourselves the East of the River DX Group, just meet at a burger joint on Sunday evening, talk ham radio and even plan group activities like getting together to work a contest or the like, great hams, great times, great memories.
 
RE: New Club  
by KC7MF on November 14, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Some basic rules for a successful 32st century club:

1. Schedule meetings and all events when working people are typically off work. Remember that many people these days work Saturdays, so have fun events when they can participate too.

2. Make sure that at least two club officers are under the age of 40 and one of them under the age of 20. Real officers, not "youth activities advisor". Elect a 20 year old president and see what it does for membership.

3. Have a greeter at the door for every meeting. Introduce all new attendees and give them a round of applause.

4. Give a free one-year membership to everyone who tests at your VE sessions. (Which you have very frequently; not less than once a month and probably twice with one of those tests in the evening and one on the weekend.)

5. Assign a "sponsor" to every new member. This sponsor is responsible for the new member for an entire year. He/she calls and reminds the member of meetings and makes sure the new member has a role in all events.

6. Ban the use of the terms "no-code extra" and "appliance operator". Not ever. Never ever ever denigrate fellow hams for their lack of code or any other skill. Invite them to learn. Then when a member wants to learn code have someone who will be available for them to practice with. A lot.

7. Have people volunteer to monitor your repeater frequencies every evening so that new techs and other club members have someone they can speak to. Not a "net control". Just a nice and friendly voice on the radio. Each club member ought to be able to do this once a month. More often if they like. Part of their job is to invite local folks using the repeater to join the club and offer to introduce them if they come.

8. Ban all efforts to denigrate young people, their hobbies and habits. Ban all sentences that begin "when I became a ham in 1919......" Replace it with a sentence that begins "One great advantage to being a ham today that was not around when I started is......"

9. Have a "speakers bureau" comprised of your members, available to speak at local events. You know how hard it is to get a speaker? Find people in your club who can talk about something other than themselves and make them available to Kiwanis, Rotary, Schools, Scouts and, just about any place else that will let you talk. And, like an old time church service, every talk ends with the "altar call" for new members. Make the group formal, and an honor. To be in the "bureau"they must demonstrate their ability to speak.

10. Go out and help people. Take your radios to shut-ins. Show how blind people can participate. Have a group that teaches handicapped people (even profoundly handicapped people) to expand their world on the radio. Then spend some of that excess "repeater" money on getting the set up and on the air. Consider putting your meeting live on the net so these folks can participate.

That is the first 10. There are plenty more.
 
RE: New Club  
by K9MHZ on November 14, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
"a successful 32st century club:"

Love it! The hobby might have gotten over its code obsession by then. (Kidding, OM!)

Like your comment about helping people who really need it. Here, every town has this bike race, that fun run, 3K, 5K, 10K, mini-marathon, and it's incessant. And they all know where they can get some free help. Nothing wrong with that, if your people really enjoy supporting that sort of thing. But the experience locally has been one of pleading and arm-twisting. So, go with the interests of YOUR group....nothing wrong with that.

And to your point, I think most would get a lot more out of helping where true need exists.

Good discussion.
 
RE: New Club  
by WA3SKN on November 15, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
So, what are your interests? What are their interests?

-Mike.
 
New Club  
by K4FMH on November 15, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
I understand your motives. And, it's good for you to ask a community of hams about things and issues to consider as you go about this effort. A survey by the ARRL Delta Division showed a clear difference in experiences in clubs that hams in those states reported. And, hams in clubs were more likely to know about and adopt newer technologies so clubs can be either very useful conduits for sharing the hobby or serious turn-offs to hams coming in contact with them. It's largely the leadership style over time that makes or breaks clubs. See this link: http://k4fmh.com/2014/01/02/arrl-delta-division-survey-sez/. You've experienced that already in the club you've disengaged from in order to make a better mousetrap.

First, consider what you and your founding group want out of a new "club". Do you want all the bells and whistles that many clubs have, including your "own" repeater, ARRL Special Service status, EmComm teams, hamfest sponsor, VE testing, club sponsored activities like Field Day, QSO Party participation in your state, building stuff, etc.? Do you really want the benefits of sharing the hobby with a selected few whom you feel very compatible with? Or, somewhere in between? Please think deeply about where you and your group wants out of it.

If it's the first scenario, it won't be "your" club very long as it will likely grow, get new leadership with alternative ideas, compete with the club you're leaving, and so forth. All this is not necessarily bad. Depending on the market size of the ham licensees in your general area, there could be room for many clubs, some of whom don't get along while a few are able to collaborate. However, this scenario requires a formalization of the group into an official club, probably seeking non-profit corporate status with 501c3 recognition by the IRS and perhaps official charity status by your State. Officers required. Bank accounts required. Liability pressures on activities (in case someone gets hurt, etc.). The ubiquitous desire of, hey! Let's get our own repeater! Serving in leadership in these clubs should not be about who is the boss but the "boss" must actually serve the membership. Leading a non-profit where volunteers get "paid" through intangible means is not the same as an employment situation. This is were ham clubs step on the third rail of volunteer group organization although it may take awhile for the shocks to make the heart of the group to cease beating. The club you're exiting may already be suffering from this but keep it in mind.

If it's the latter scenario, another poster has suggested the best plan: just make it a group who meets and enjoys the hobby (called an "ungroup" by some). Activities will meander according to the desires of your small group. Here, you're not really trying to seek and attract new members but some will come your way. Money to fund things come from several just passing the hat or donating equipment as needed. The "group" doesn't exist in a formal, legal way. It's the safest bet in the short run to consider meeting regularly with this scenario in mind. Should you get a good fit of new hams who want to join your group, you could implement a planning strategy to outline what seems best for your founding membership. The need for money and what you'll do with it begins here so identify someone who has the financial and non-profit skills in your group to give you the best guidance and actual participation in going about creating a more formal club organization.

Good luck on your endeavor! Your state's Agricultural Extension Service provides free advice and educational training on community clubs in West Virginia. See this link: https://extension.wvu.edu/community-business-safety/community-educational-outreach-service. The ESes in every state does this! And did I mention that it's free?

73,

Frank
K4FMH
 
New Club  
by KL7AJ on November 15, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
I recently did this. I formed a contest club, with the new call KL7EX. I've found that a club without a station loses direction pretty fast.

73!
Eric
 
RE: New Club  
by N6JSX on November 16, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
You want to know what killed membership off - GO ASK past members. With so many fading away there are reasons.

Most of the time the demise of Clubs/Groups is all centered around the POWER struggles created. Having a structured 'voted' leaders creates politics - winners and losers, and this is the start of clicks & inner-struggle sides. Look at how the losers are treated and you may see the start of problems. Do you have a President/leader that is a dictator who drives people away.

Another problem in Clubs/Groups is who are the do'ers? Usually you will find a hand full of members who DO-IT-ALL, with most just reaping the rewards of their efforts. The do'ers do it for various personal reasons usually to keep the club alive or "someone had to step up'. But how are the fence-sitters treated, do you nurture them into inclusion or rag/nag/drag them in only driving them further away? Are the Do'ers recognized for their efforts - or secretly ostracized by the click?

What is the TRUE purpose of the Club/Group is it strong enough to keep people involved and willing to overlook politics/aggresive-wanna-be-leaders/clicks? That is an individual decision - there is no right/wrong it's up to the member to decide if the purpose of the group is of value in their life they are willing to participate in?

If you can minimize leadership and make everyone EQUAL and IMPORTANT to the group you can have a strong long lasting organization with many hours of fun.

I think back of my days as a Southern CA T-Hunter. We had no true organization. Oh we had some who tried to dominate the direction of the T-Hunting but what brought us together was the thrill and challenge of 'THE HUNT' which led to comradery; isn't that what we all seek?
 
New Club  
by W5GNB on November 17, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Forget the Club idea... It's nothing but Trouble and hard feelings to be developed.... There are usually 30 - 50 members and only 2 or 3 willing to do ANYTHING at all .. the others will complain and sit on their back sides, telling the FEW how they are not running things correctly !!!
 
JUST A THOUGHT  
by JAZZMAN on November 17, 2018 Mail this to a friend!

I agree with W5GNB. Ham Radio has taken a slide down into the ditch in my opinion. A lot of hard feelings and complaining. Not just a club but on the air or on this website and others.

Listen on the air and look at some of the posts on this website. Would you like these people to be in your club?
 
New Club  
by NN2X on November 17, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
The best club that I visited was in Pittsburgh area.

It was a Ham / Bar. You had draft beer, some light food, and one heck of great topics!

There was always helping Hams with new projects, putting up antennas, fixing equipment, and even finding jobs. Constantly enhancing operating set ups

That was the theme, always helping each other, and enhancing the set up and operations...That kept us busy

The Ham operators at this club perform the following for myself

I had put up 42 ft boom Quad, with 5 bands (20, 17, 15, 12, and 10). All I had to do is supply beer and refill the kegs at the HAM / Bar.

One of our honorable duties we had to perform at the Ham / Bar was taking turns being the bar tender. (We get tips as well!)

This was totally unorthodox, but what a great atmosphere.

I have no idea if these guys are still around. I am in Dallas area today, but ir worked back then (1980's)

Best

NN2X TOM

 
RE: New Club  
by JAZZMAN on November 17, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Awesome story Tom but you have to remember that was the 80's things have changed a little since then.
 
New Club  
by NZ2Z on December 11, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Use the model of NORCAL and NOGA. Meet how ever regularly you want. Don’t have officers. No dues structure (if you are worthwhile you will find projects to raise money). No constitution, that only leads to too many useless ‘points of order’ and other constitutional formalities that bog down the membership. Each meeting should, MUST have some program. It could be a speaker or sometimes just go around the room and have a show and tell session.
Above all this is a hobby, not a job. It is supposed to be fun. I left two clubs because 1) they were not fun, 2) there were no regular programs, 3) the committee chairs hadn’t submitted reports (the bylaws committee could not get an original copy of the bylaws for the 4 years I was a member of the club), 5) I was not learning anything; meetings were becoming a real waste of 2 hours of my life every month.
 
New Club  
by N9AVY on December 27, 2018 Mail this to a friend!
Back in 1978 we started a club and it's still running today. We've tried to keep it a general interest club and it seems to be working. We started out with about 30 original (Charter) members, but most have moved away or have become SK. We started out primarily doing Field Day.

Fast forward several years to 2000's. Club was down to about 6 members and we were ready to shut it down. Those remaining decided to carry on with some changes like a regular newsletter full of content each month, inviting members to present a program or having guest speakers, sometimes we'd have ARRL videos but not often, first part of meeting was business with second part being the program and we also had a Saturday breakfast (informal) as well as meeting at local restaurant before/after meetings. This all helped to drive up the membership rolls. Membership increased from that 6 or so to a present day of 100 ! We also kept the dues at $10/year. Even drew members from nearby counties. After several year of no FD action it was reinstated about 3 years ago and K9RN has appeared in the results. Now a dinner in November has been introduced and was attend by one of original founders who made a somewhat long trip to be there. All the credit goes to the officers for all their hard work over the past several years. The original constitution was rewritten, a updated version of a email reflector was added as well as a Facebook page. I've been here since the beginning and watched all these changes. We still welcome new members and newcomers.
 
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