Just to add to Niko's reply, everything he has written is fairly accurate. You'll always have one or two dedicated individuals that keep the club going, but it's also the responsibility of these few people to delegate duties and push to be certain that all items of need are taken care completed. During my time at OKCAA and DFWAPC, and currently with NEAPS, I've found that you do a lot of emailing and calling of various people to keep things up to date and to be certain that essential tasks relevant to the club are being pursued.
Try to have an agenda for the officers/board members that can be discussed a half hour before the meetings so that everyone is on board to present a united front to the members. Keep the meetings informal, but have a topic of discussion that keeps the meeting flowing. As you grow, you'll be able to start recruiting speakers to visit and present more formal talks.
Donations are a great way to get your club's treasury built up to pay for essential advertising, webhosting, etc. I can't stress how important advertising is for the survival of your club. The club thrives on new blood that brings enthusiasm and new ideas to the club.
Be sure to provide some type of perk for the members, aside from topics discussed at meetings. Free plant trades were a trademark of my clubs in Dallas and my current one in New England. That's a great way to trade hard to find stuff without paying a premium to stores or online vendors, but it's a great way to get new members involved very quickly by providing a solid foundation to start their own tanks.
Because of the size that this club may encompass, I'd suggest that you find a central location and keep it a regular meeting location. Universities, community colleges, libraries, etc. are places to start with. Fish stores for meeting locations are problematic in that they often don't have the ability to provide enough space for a meeting and customers coming in and out of the store can be quite disruptive. However, if the stores don't already have a planted tank, work something out with the owner and work on a demo setup to the public with equipment, plants, etc. provided by the store owner.
Also, to increase exposure until you grow to a certain size, get involved with general fish clubs in the region. If they have an auction, show up with plants and put bags in with a business card of you club stapled to the bag. Also, donate some items to the other club and every time they announce an item for bid, ask them to announce your club. Great, cheap publicity!
Finally, advertise, advertise, and advertise even more. Get linked to the AGA and other national groups.
Hope that helps some.
New England Aquatic Plant Society
Executive Board Member
Dallas-Fort Worth Aquatic Plant Club
Oklahoma City Aquarium Association
Originally Posted by niko
Some observations from the DFWAPC club in the last several years:
- One or two very dedicated individuals actually keep the club going.
That may sound a bit ugly but it is true. No matter how many officers you vote/choose the people that are dedicated to the hobby will keep the club and the meetings going. This usually amounts to very few people - often only one.
- Meetings should be orderly but not too formal.
- People like raffles.
Hook up with aquarium companies to give you goodies to raffle. Provide small banners (advertisement) on your club site in exchange.
- Not everyone wants to open their home for a monthly meeting.
Don't expect it from anyone.
- People that have expressed willingness to host a meeting should understand that the house may get a bit dirty because of too many people showing up. Warn them about that. Find people that will help keep it clean during the meeting. Don't assume that everyone will be responsible to clean up after themselves.
- Some lfs will be glad to host a meeting in exchange for a tank that the club sets up.
It's something that the stores view as "interesting", attracting customers.
- Group buys can easily turn into a nightmare.
The people that commit to organize a group buy should be aware of that.
Creating the list, picking up of the goods, payments and so on should be done within deadlines. Otherwise the experience becomes very long and frustrating for many.
- Members join and disappear all the time. It's natural.
- The club web site should contain as many pictures of local club events as possible. Not just people sipping sodas from plastic cups and hanging around but pictures of plants, places, stores etc.
And a personal view - printed club brochures could be left at lfs's for people to hear about the club.