How to Start a Club

REAL SIMPLE. REAL LIFE. Makeover subject Peggy Normandin wanted to get a group of pals together for regular tennis sessions―but she wasn’t sure where to begin. Here’s everything you need to know or do to get your own group up and running (or knitting, or painting pottery).  


1. Create guidelines. Will your group be open to both women and men? Do you require everyone to be at the same basic skill level? How often do you want to meet? What will the attendance policy be? (For partner sports like tennis and golf, it’s a good idea to request that members find their own replacements if they’re not able to attend games.) Will members be paying dues to cover expenses as they arise, or will they handle their own expenses?


2. Recruit members. You can send out a mass e-mail to friends and family―be sure to mention your expectations―and ask them to start sending interested parties your way. You can also post fliers at local gathering places―say, the country club, your church or the store where you buy knitting supplies.


3. Figure out where and when you will meet. Depending on the type of club you’ll have, you may need to reserve space at an outside location such as a court, school or club. (Contact the management for availability.) For book clubs and other non-sporting activities, people often prefer to take turns hosting in their homes. (Just be sure to set the guidelines ahead of time: a refreshments budget, rotation schedule, etc.)


4. Start a blog or online forum to manage the club. This is easier than it might sound. Free websites such as bigtent.com walk you through all the steps to create a communal site. (Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are another option.) The upside? Rather than having to send out endless group e-mails, you can post all relevant info about the club, including members’ contact info, in one handy place. (It’s also a great short-cut for when you’re bringing new members up to speed.)


5. Reap the rewards of your work―and share the load. Once the club is up and running, you will likely find that kinks will arise (absent members, scheduling mishaps) and gradually work themselves out. Odds are, you will gradually shoulder less and less of the burden as people fall into their comfortable roles. (There’s a natural social director and treasurer in every group.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help; after all, everyone is reaping the rewards of your great idea.