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Old 06-21-2013, 11:57 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Bestwifeever View Post
I heard a statistic once that at best 10 percent of a club's membership are actively involved (usually in making up rules and then complaining about why no one in the other 90 percent wants to help them).

As for us, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."
+1, (first paragraph) and the quote is usually attributed to Groucho.
IME, that top 10% gets pretty cliquey.

When I was younger, had the time, energy, and disposable income, I shmoosed with a lot of fraternal organizations, but couldn't get an invitation to join.

I've "belonged" (i.e. paid dues) in a few special interest clubs, only to be snubbed by the cliques from participating, and not getting anything else out of it except a monthly newsletter telling me all the great things/fun the clique was involved in/with. Very frustrating.

Tried to start a few special interest clubs, but nobody wanted to commit to anything (participation) -- just, "what can I get out of this for free?" On top of that, anyplace that had space for meetings wanted obscene rental for using their room (that was heated/lighted anyway) that we couldn't possibly raise starting out.

Visiting a relative in a well-known active adult community, I noticed they have over 100 social/special interest clubs, but residents are charged a mandatory recreation fee ($500/$1000/year) to support the clubs.

Probably no news to Midpack, but I can chalk most/all of this up to one phenomenon -- the Me Generation. People aren't interested in putting anything into a club/organization -- only what they can get out of it -- preferably for free (or less).


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Old 06-21-2013, 12:03 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Tyro View Post

+1, (first paragraph) and the quote is usually attributed to Groucho. ...
I know, I have seen it attributed to the great Groucho and to Woody Allen (who no doubt was quoting Groucho), so thought I'd just throw it out there and take the credit myself

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Old 06-21-2013, 12:25 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Social networks are a modern version of clubs and are thriving.
Online has changed everything. Is everyone familiar with One can sign up for activities and get togethers across a limitless array of affinities and interests.. Or start your own. Anyone can start a club or join one. II belong to an investment meetup, a photography meetup, and an outdoor adventure meetup in my city. The OP could consider as a vehicle to raise awareness for their organization among younger people.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:38 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by FinanceDude View Post
Your focus needs to be YOUNG people. It has been my experience that even the young professionals will help out if ask. Many groups suffer because the "old folks" who have done it for many years have ostracized any new ideas from the younger members. Eventually, they get too old to do it anymore and they have no one to take it over because they never groomed anyone.........
Indeed. When I talked with a former club leader, he volunteered to get a bunch of the old members from the clubs heydays together for me, he said "some of them are still alive." I politely declined, but I was thinking it would be useless - trying to bring back the old days sounds like a dead end to me, and so does reminiscing on same.

We actually have a healthy junior program. But it does not translate into adult members, we lose them by age 25 if not before, as they (understandably) focus on career and family. Where it used to be a family thing, now Mom's are just dropping off the kids and leaving, we're sorta an alternative to day care.

[My research talking here, not original thoughts] And juniors have so many options for activities these days, the just go from soccer practice to little league to swimming etc. The focus now is on competing and socializing with peers, and the (rote) training is almost entirely technical - the mentoring that engenders lifelong passion for the activity may be missing. So it seems the key is not only juniors, but how to instill a passion for the activities and not just a youth activity that will not survive into adulthood.

And I had not thought of, that might be helpful, thanks!

IMO the bottom line is, we need to provide services/activities that clearly justify the cost of membership - such that people want to join/seek us out, not sure how we do that (yet). The club started with 140 members and a waiting list, peaked at 350 still with a waiting list (30-40 years ago), and now has 40-60 members, no waiting of course. And the remaining old members just want things to be "like they used to be" and that ain't happening IMO - reminds me of 'insanity is doing what you've always done and expecting different results.' We started an online group and it showed some promise, but the club officers can't figure out how to login, so their "messages" are posted by someone else on their behalf - always opening with 'some day I am going to figure out how to do this myself.' Needless to day there is no dialogue since the officers can't even log in, and board meetings are only for board members.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:52 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Arifriekinel View Post
Only me and the other invited students had ideas, the club members were all wondering why we would ever feed the kids at all, claiming that that's not what their money should go to, they shouldn't be responsible for those kids, etc. There were more than a few racially insensitive people at the meetings, and very closed minded populations. They proceeded to ignore and laugh off any ideas we had because we thought differently than they did. I join national groups like DoSomething because they accept and promote new, different ideas, and embrace young people getting involved, not the other way around.

I know I'm from the south, so that may not apply everywhere, but these clubs seemed a lot less about community service and a lot more about pushing their religions on everyone. They were only for initiatives to help if it was for their religion, but for those school kids who might have needed breakfast or lunch, there was just no hearing about it. I love helping, but I couldn't help in an environment like that.
Thanks for writing my post for me!

We have a neighborhood Rotary Club (or similar type club) that 4-5 decades ago had 30+ members at any time. When I moved to the neighborhood 10 years ago I was recruited by a neighbor to join the club. At that time, it had 6-7 dues paying members. I quickly learned it wasn't the place for me. Very homogeneous members in regards to race, age, gender, political orientation, religion, etc. Not a cool place to hang out if you like a little variety or think for yourself.

Fast forward 10 years to this past spring. At an ad hoc community meeting with the stated purpose of "making the neighborhood better", one of these dues paying members of the Rotary club got up and launched in to a tirade against the youth and immigrants, how lazy they were and didn't want to help out, corruption of society and lack of moral values (among the youth and immigrants and "you know who"). Youth being anyone under age 50 or so it seems. I think he said the Rotary club was down to 3-4 active members and they aren't really able to do much of anything any more because of lack of members and the age of existing members.

I think he pretty much summed up what the remaining membership gripe about at their monthly Rotary club meetings. Gee, why can't they attract young blood from our extremely diverse neighborhood?

As for the OP's question of "can clubs be revitalized"? Seems like an uphill battle. Too many competing interests for the younger generation. The only kind of social clubs I could see being successful are those that are organized around some interest or activity. Sports, outside activities, hobbies, causes, etc.

Social media is key. I have seen a purely social club form ad hoc on facebook and its stated purpose is for newcomers to our city to meet others here in the city. They have weekly meetups at some club or restaurant, and also many weeknight happy hours set up ad hoc (max 1-2 days notice). Also potlucks or parties at members houses or neighborhood pools/clubhouses. They have 1000 facebook members but probably no more than 30-40 members show up to any one event. So it is a loose social organization. No membership fees, loose organization. People have fun and network. Maybe find some local friends and then meet outside the group. The group doesn't exist to perpetuate the group, but rather to serve the needs of its members. I don't participate in that group and I'm not a member, I just saw some friends who are members on facebook.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:55 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
Indeed. When I talked with a former club leader, he volunteered to get a bunch of the old members from the clubs heydays together for me, he said "some of them are still alive." ...
Ummm, does this mean he was considering trotting out some of the dead ones?

That would have made quite an impression on the youngsters.

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Old 06-21-2013, 12:57 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Social networks are a modern version of clubs and are thriving.
And they're free.

We never belonged to anything, from the time we got married (and before) to about five years ago. Our perception (right or wrong) was that clubs (per se) benefited the long-time members disproportionately and didn't feel that, in an environment where jobs could (and did, once) drive us to move to another city, it would be worth the investment of time, effort and money.

Five years ago we put the nail in the coffin of any consideration of clubs: We joined a local church which fulfills not only the typical purpose of churches, but all possible social and service inclinations that clubs would.
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:01 PM   #28
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I enjoy my Lions Club. Dues are reasonable, and we do some great things for the community: support eyesight/blindness related issues, improve local parks, college scholarships, road and stream clean-ups, etc. Yet, at 41, I am one of the youngest members.

As I read the comments people are talking about all manner of different clubs. Special interest, fun, service, etc. Just like different plants require different types of fertilizer, different types of clubs require different things to be successful. The same sh:t doesn't work for everything. And you can't simply pile more of the same sh:t on and expect better results.

I think traditional service clubs can be revitalized. They have to be about something and well organized. People interested in community service don't want to join a club just to be a member. They want to support something tangible. They want to be a part of something that is visible in their community. Members need to stop discounting the idea of recruiting certain people because they are so busy. Busy people make the best members. If they see the value, they will participate.

I am not a member of any special interest or "fun" clubs. So, I don't have any thoughts in that direction.
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:44 PM   #29
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Create an online forum for the club. Not sure that doesn't defeat the purpose, but it might help communications with the younger members. We had a Yahoo Groups forum for a company I worked at that was bought and pretty much disbanded.
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:50 PM   #30
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It is interesting that DW and I each belong to informal "clubs". DW has a few knitting/quilting groups that she attends meeting but they are very informal - no or minimal dues, minimal hierarchy, etc. I belong to a group of 20-30 retired guys that golf each Thursday but it is very informal - no dues and a couple guys organize things and the rest of us are thankful that they do and DW and I also belong to a group that golfs on Sunday afternoons but the same thing - very informal, no dues and one person organizes it and the rest of us are thankful that they do.

Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
Personally, I don't like any club that is too structured (I suspect that many of my younger peers would agree with me). If it has a "president" and a "board', if it requires to be sponsored or a large upfront fee for joining, if it has an extensive list of rules, regulations, codes, etc... then forget it. I see those things as ways for old fogies to keep out certain people they deem to be undesirable to the membership.

My kind of club? Informal and casual, loosely organized (often via social media), low annual fees, ability to participate when I want to and not when I am told to, etc...
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:54 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
I think the club ship has sailed and your efforts will lead only to frustration. I wouldn't want to spend my hard-earned retirement attempting to push a rope uphill...

There are so many more peaceful, serene, enjoyable, and stress-free ways to spend the rest of my life. YMMV but I'm opting out and wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. I'd prefer to leave that to the particular subset of working guys who have a chip on their shoulders and something to prove.

Trying to cope with this club situation sounds way too much like w*rk to me. I'd rather put my efforts into maximizing my health and fully enjoying and engaging in this wonderful stage of life (retirement).
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:04 PM   #32
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+1 on

I joined about 25 meetup groups 5 years ago when it was mainly a phenomena of the 'younger set'. Although I was old enough in many cases to be their parent/grandparent, I was always welcomed and treated very nicely. has finally reached the boomers. I'm currently active in about 3-5 groups that offer the types of activities that I enjoy with the type of people I enjoy spending time with.

I dislike the traditional clubs, due to their internal politics, feeling of 'clubbyness', costs, and always [seemingly] the pressure to volunteer for something.

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Old 06-22-2013, 08:36 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
I've been asked to help a local club (founded 1933) with declining membership (and revenue) to revitalize itself. Most clubs have seen large declines/ever higher member median ages for decades whether social/community (Kiwanis, Rotary, Jaycees, Lions, Shriners, churches, etc.)
I've never considered these clubs because, at 57 yrs old, I've never known anyone who was a member of these organizations nor have I ever seen or heard of anything they have done in the communities I've lived. Out of sight. Out of mind. I still don't know what they do . . . and I'm still not interested in finding out.

Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
or social/activity (golf, tennis, boating, swimming, bridge, bowling, etc. - even fitness clubs in some cases).
Team sports obviously require a group of active participants to play as do competition in activities like golf, tennis and boating. I've never been particularly competitive in sports so I ignore these too.

I've played golf with "the guys" and I was part of a poker group for 15 yrs but that was just social activities with my friends. I tried a camera club for a while in the 90's but they turned that into an unpleasant competitive activity too so I dropped out. The one group I did like was Great Books Discussion Groups.

I think the factor that promotes hierarchical dues paying organizations is the closeness of the community you live in. It could be a small town or a close knit neighborhood in a city or the school district your kids are in or a common experience with breast cancer or Alzheimers or poverty or the environment.

The things I think go against these organization are:
1) The culture has moved toward people doing what they want when they want. Call it individualism or selfishness or the Me Generation or whatever,
2) In our generation we've become two earner families. As women have entered the workforce there is no one at home and work consumes the time that one person in the family could devote to community activities.
3) Communities are a lot less cohesive. I think there is a significant portion of our generation who have moved through a lot of homes in a lot of different places. I suppose this could go both ways. It might make people disconnected from a place or it might compel some people to join organizations of the communities they move to.
4) Information and communication have increased dramatically. When your dominant information input was local then you lived local. Our attention is directed everywhere now.
5) There is so much more to do now and it is so much easier to go there and connect with other people in other places. With the availability of a larger variety of activities people have not committed to any one activity. As others have said, Social Media dominates how people find things to do.

There are probably more examples but I'll quit there.

Regarding your question. I don't think you can revive an old organization that isn't or doesn't want to be synchronized with the present.
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Old 06-22-2013, 09:35 AM   #34
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I think the old model of "club" was centred around a community where you had to fit in. With today's communication technology, it's much easier to follow your own path and find like minded people anywhere in the world.
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:01 AM   #35
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Thanks to those who recommended I'd never heard of it, but it looks useful.
I'm not a natural "joiner" just for the sake of being a part of a group. If there's a group headed out to pick up litter or engaged in a longer-term project then let's just join up and do the work. Ongoing meetings, elections, dues, expectations of attendance--no, thanks.
As far as meetings of folks to discuss common interests: that can happen far more efficiently online, even with local events.
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:03 AM   #36
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Dues should get you something, besides being called a 'member.' Dues collected by an club must support some activity the club provides. Ask for an annual report of expenses (just like a charity) to see where your $ are going.

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Old 06-22-2013, 10:31 AM   #37
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Another thought on If you are traveling or planning on traveling and looking to either connect with a bunch of locals once there and/or find out about potential activities, check out meetup groups in that area. You can find out about all sorts of things that are going on that you might not otherwise be aware of. You can either attend as part of the meetup or go on your own.

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Old 06-22-2013, 10:51 AM   #38
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Midpack, there is a book called Bowling Alone about the demise of clubs and bowling teams.

I remember one of the findings from the book was that social club membership declined in towns after cable TV went in.

We have noticed that some of the clubs we have belonged to over the years often had retirees much older than us and few younger members. They just didn't seem sustainable long term.

Sports related groups that post on meetup and do community outreach events seem to do okay. I think there is less interest in fraternal type organizations these days. We went to a garage sale at a local Moose club that had pictures of all the past leaders on the wall, and DH commented that they all looked like George Costanza's dad.

I went to a local Rotary meeting and the speaker was on cattle ranching. Cattle ranching? Really? I'd rather be at home posting here on ER, a subject I'm interested in.

I think with online forums and local meetup groups it is easier to find groups with more targeted similar interests than generic fraternal groups of past years. I guess that is the long tail in action, with maybe more interest in niche groups these days. Plus cable TV, Netflix and the web are all competition for people's leisure hours.
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Old 06-23-2013, 03:18 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by martyp View Post
2) In our generation we've become two earner families. As women have entered the workforce there is no one at home and work consumes the time that one person in the family could devote to community activities.
And maintaining the home consumes the time after work.

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