Ideas for the administration of a philatelic society or stamp club

Dr Robin Gwynn

All societies go through cycles. Some years, there is a buzz of energy, plenty of good ideas, a flow of new members. Other years, the same old people reluctantly volunteer to be re-elected to office, things seem to have gone stale, people remark on an aging membership.

That is the natural ebb and flow of things. In addition, some time periods have special problems. At the moment, for instance, all sorts of voluntary agencies and sports and hobby societies, including stamp clubs, seem to have a common problem in finding volunteers to run them. The busy people in our society as a whole seem busier than ever; others are prevented from participating by cost or lack of transport.

Even the best run and largest societies can run into particular problems from time to time. So here are some ideas which may help when difficulties arise. Mostly these ideas are ones which other clubs have found useful at some time or another. It would be good to add to them: any suggestions will be gratefully received by the Federation Secretary.

“We’d like to publicize our society better, but how do we start?”; or, “We need new members”.
  • An article in the local give-away paper and local radio about something you’re doing is more likely to be effective (and much cheaper) than paid advertising.
  • If you can’t think of something worth writing up, consider: is there an interesting visiting speaker worth promoting? Is there a local post office centenary to which you could draw attention? How about a stamp quiz for young people?
  • Link up with a stamp fair or travelling dealer. They may be very willing to let you have a table to promote your society, though they may not want you to sell material.
  • Even better, link in with a fair AND New Zealand Post, and hold a special Stamp Promotion day or weekend.
  • Check [“Guidelines for societies regarding publicity and the media”].
“We’re having difficulty filling the positions of our society officers”, or, “The same few people do everything all the time”.
  • Is the load perceived as too great? Can it be reduced, for example, by holding committee meetings immediately before club meetings? Remember that not all the on-going tasks of the society need be done by committee members.
  • Spread the load. For example, have a “Pacific Islands Night” or a “Ladies’ Night” or whatever, and ask two or three people from outside the committee to organize it.
  • Can the load be shared with other clubs? In parts of the country, it may make sense for there to be a common Exchange Packet, or a joint auction. A region could also develop a common core newsletter, with one page specific to your particular society.
  • Some societies insist that offices not be held for more than three or five years, just to stop the situation of a few people doing all the work from developing.
  • Remember, if members can be involved in showing and perhaps talking about their stamps at meetings – even if it’s only 2 or 3 pages a time – they are more likely to realize they have a role to play. And if they are involved by being asked to help with the club competition, library, sales table or whatever, they are more likely sooner or later to step onto the committee for a spell. If the load is spread and everyone is involved, new ideas come in and the club stays buzzing, so it’s easier to find people to help run the society.
“Attendance at our meetings seems to have dropped off lately.”
  • Have two or three people ringing round all the local members the Sunday before.
  • Are people not coming because they have no transport? If so, would someone pick them up?
  • Can the venue be made more attractive? For instance, would it be worth changing seating arrangements from formal rows to a more coffee table style?
  • Encourage people to stay on for half an hour after meetings for a social time and perhaps a swap session.
  • Are there boring formalities which could be dropped? (For instance, at one time most societies read out minutes of routine committee meetings in full every month. Few do so today. But some societies still read letters, even down to addresses and “yours sincerely”; others just pin them on a board for everyone to read.)
  • Arrange a joint meeting with a visiting speaker chosen conjointly with a neighbouring society, give it special advertisement, and see what happens.
“We need some more ideas for our meetings.”
  • Look carefully through this section of the website. It includes many ideas.