Building or Re-Building a Club

by Stan Burdick (reprinted from Mikeside Management)

Lately, in these days of general downtrend in the square dance activity, I receive a lot of requests from callers, officers and club people who ask questions abut stimulating new growth, healing old wounds, putting new life into the club situation. There are no easy answers to these problems. All we can do is offer some general thoughts. Solutions are everyone's job - callers, dancers, even area leaders in related organizations.

Before answers can be determined, first, have you really analyzed the whole situation? Has the club lost members? Why? What about location and its appeal? Caller? Hospitality in the club? Program? Visitor potential? Friendliness of those in the club? Level? Structure? Changes? The best way to start is by having all member fill out a questionnaire so that some of these questions can be answered by those involved.

Then a meeting can be held in which the answers are discussed and a general profile of the club is drawn up. From this analysis, procedures and goals can be the final outcome.

A dynamic club is one that is always changing, trying new ideas, promoting, setting up special events other than just the usual club dances. How often has your club had an anniversary dance, a black cat dance (Friday the 13th), a picnic, a dutch treat dinner before the dance, a theme dance around a holiday, a white elephant party, a contest, an all-nighter, a costume party, a banner raid, a mystery trip, bing-a-friend night, bo lunch auction? Use your imagination. Use variety to avoid continual ruts.

In the matter of building and rebuilding a club, these questions are asked: What are you doing to promote new classes? New recruits for your club? Visitors from other clubs? Do you have a display in a downtown store window? Posters? Flyers? Promotional cards and handouts? A whole recruitment campaign? Newsletter? Free guest night? Parade float? Incentives for members to help recruit? Specials geared to attracting guests? A phone program?

Are you running short of money to do the programs you need to do? A raffle, if locally approved, can help. Garage sales will produce good fun as well as supplemental income. Many clubs have 50-50 drawings a each dance. All members can sell a number of pre-packaged items like candy, fruitcake and nuts.

Perhaps your whole club structure needs a little revamping. Officers elected annually? Club bylaws short and to the point? Monthly meetings short and not scheduled at dance times? Officers recognized at the end of their terms? Good financial records kept? Caller invited to club meetings? Annual dues collected early? Goals? Good advance plans? Finally, good luck.

This article may be reprinted with no further permission from the authors and/or publications. Permission has been granted in advance for the reprinting with the stipulation that credit be given to the contributing author/publisher.