This may sound obvious, but new book clubs or existing ones that have gone through changes may not have an agreed upon name. Your name is the cornerstone of your validity as a book club, making it imperative that you create one and consistently connect it to your group’s activities.
Whether you have a savings account, checking account, or use a prepaid debit account, your book club should have a safe way to collect and retain funds. Having a bank account helps with tracking incoming monies and club expenses so that to club can best use its financial resources.
Potential members, current members, publishers, authors, bookstores, and other book clubs should be able to communicate with you as needed. Obtaining and managing a book club email account is the simplest and most affordable method of communication between your book club and other parties. Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo all offer easy to use, free email accounts.
Mission Statement or Objective
Some book clubs aim to promote literacy. Others seek to expose members to specific genres of books. Whatever your book club has deemed as its goal, create a formal mission statement or objective to communicate your club’s intentions with its members and the public.
Although some book clubs are able to maintain and function without collecting dues, most require members to pay a fee on a regular basis (monthly, annually, etc.). Monies gathered from dues can assist clubs in planning events, community service, social gatherings, or hosting monthly meetings.
Bylaws are simply written, agreed upon policies and procedures for your club. Once bylaws are in place, it becomes easier to maintain order among members because you already have decided how various matters will be handled. Bylaws should include items such as your mission statement, dues, meetings, etc. For more information on creating bylaws please see Book Club 101’s article on bylaws.
Non-Book Related Activities
Yes, you are a book club, but that doesn’t mean everything you do has to be book related. Adding other social activities to your calendar can create a stronger bond among members and increase public awareness of your club. Activities can range from celebrating birthdays to community service efforts.
A book club that does not meet in one form or another is no book club at all. Although certain times of the year can be busier than others, your club should have consistently scheduled meetings, and should follow through on these meetings even if turnout is low. By having meetings regardless of attendance, you send the message to members that the book club will continue with or without their presence, encouraging them to be more committed to the group.
Most book clubs have a secretary, but even if your book club does not have officers, it still should have someone that keeps notes about the happenings of meetings and other book club business. Keeping records helps to maintain member accountability, as well as prevent miscommunication.
Along with keeping records, the club should have an updated roster of active members that includes members’ contact information. All members should have a copy or access to this roster, allowing members to connect with each other in between meetings.
In today’s technological age, if you do not have internet presence, you do not exist. Your book club should have some form of online and searchable connection with the world, such as a website or Facebook page. Social media not only helps you communicate with members, authors, publishers, etc., but also it is a means for potential members to find out about your club.
I’ve been to book club meetings both with and without food, and hands down, meetings that have food are better. If you are having people meet for one hour or longer, having refreshments such as beverages, snack, or even full meals will help participants feel more comfortable during the meeting. In addition to alleviating hunger pains or thirst, food has a magical way of bonding people and inspiring interaction.
Of course, what is a book club without fun? To keep members coming back, meeting after meeting, make sure to have a good time. The more enjoyable the meetings, the more likely people will commit to attending regularly. For most people, participating in a book club is an outlet, something they do to get away from the stresses of everyday life. As you build and retain your club, select books, outings, activities, etc. that make your time together entertaining and pleasurable.
What new things did your book club implement in 2013? What do you plan to change in 2014?