Monday, December 29, 2014

Putting Together a Member's Handbook for your Club

You Need a Member Handbook

If you are going to be a structured camera club, with officers, and club rules, etc, you definitely need to have a member handbook. The handbook will describe the procedure for electing offices, voting on pictures, collecting member dues, and all the other business of the club that needs to be documented.

I have belonged to large clubs without any governing rules, and I've belonged to small clubs with a very specific set of rules. The one factor that seems to be a common denominator is the age of the club. The older the club (40, 50, 60, 70+ years), the more likely it is to have a written set of rules.

Make sure all your members have access to the Member Handbook. It should serve not only to document how the club is to conduct itself, but it should also serve as a FAQ about the club for your members.

Where do I Find Examples?

Many Camera Clubs post their member handbooks online. If you need to put together a handbook on your own, you may want to use one of theirs as an example (just don't be lazy and copy it, make it your own.)

These are some links to clubs that have their member handbooks online.

Simsbury Camera Club
Silver Spring Camera Club
South Shore Camera Club
Pilchuck Camera Club
Coastal Camera Club

...and you can find dozens more just by going to Google and searching for "Camera Club Member Handbook".

Then What?

Once you have your handbook written, it needs to be approved by the people who will be governed by it. It is up to your group to decide how it will be voted on, and since the matter is being discussed, it might be a good idea at this time to decide how changes to the handbook will be allowed in the future.

It is best to have your handbook in one central location available to all members. This location should hold the most up-to-date version of the document. Many clubs store the handbook on their website in PDF format. Handing out printed documents of the handbook is fine, but just realize that anytime you make a revision to the original, it is a BIG project to make sure everyone gets updated.

On occasion, remind your members about the handbook, and encourage them to review it from time to time. Also encourage them to suggest changes or additions.

Anticipate your camera club is going to still be around in the 2060's or 2070's? Might be a good idea to get yourself a member's handbook.

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