With thanks to Chris Forwood from Epsom & Ewell Philatelic Society we find out just what makes a good stamp club & how to reenergise yours
Is your local stamp club on its last legs?
Perhaps it deserves to be. That’s harsh, but truth often is.
Not so long ago the Epsom & Ewell Philatelic Society had a guest speaker, but only eight members turned up.
That was embarrassing for everyone; but as he droned on it occurred to us it was amazing that so many attended.
It set us thinking – what makes a good philatelic society and what future does it have?
If we just wanted lots of members we could have become more of a bourse. That has been done successfully by some of our near-neighbours. We did not want to copy them but things did have to change.
We asked members what they most disliked about our meetings - poor speakers easily topped the poll.
Speakers may be ready and willing, but they must also be able. Everyone would perform much better if they understood the basics of how to give a presentation so ought to know everything on this page of the Surrey Federation’s website -https://www.surreyphilately.org.uk/notes-for-speakers
Nowadays the Epsom & Ewell rarely books anyone unless one of us has seen them in action or they come with high recommendations.
Remember, there are more willing speakers than are listed in the directories. Why not ask the secretary of a specialist society if they have anyone who is good and reasonably local to you? Never be afraid to approach a ‘star’ speaker. Many are willing to travel if you guarantee a good audience.
That begs the question - how do you get a decent number of members? Well, stop pretending technology does not exist. A web presence and email is the minimum. The Epsom & Ewell also has a Twitter account – @EpsomEwellPS – with nearly 1,000 followers.
The web is how people are going to find you. An individual society may not have the funds to run its own website – it costs about £80 a year – but could have their own pages on their federation’s site.
The E&E’s website - https://www.epsomandewellphilatelicsociety.co.uk – started as not much more than a static advert which attracted little attention. Then we posted a couple of articles and asked members to contribute. Now new pieces get published regularly and the site has had nearly 5,000 visits in the last two months.
Incidentally, making a general request for articles generated little response; but ask individuals directly and they usually say yes. The same is true about co-opting people to do jobs for the society – make an announcement at a meeting and none will put themselves forward, ask people individually and they are usually flattered enough to say yes.
We email members whenever a new piece appears on the website. We also send a message to all a couple of days before every meeting by way of a reminder – it works. We also use email instead of holding committee meetings - that works too.
Stamp collecting isn’t dying, but it is changing – everything is – and societies, national and local, need to change with it.
If you have not read it yet, here is a link to an interesting piece on the BBC’s website - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49632306
Remember that quote from the piece: "I would never join a club or society; my perception is that they are mainly full of people my parents' age, are a bit nerdy and I don't want to be viewed that way.”
We need to change that perception.