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Communicating with Your Club Members
Delayed information, missing calendar dates or no contact information? If this sounds like your club, then you need to overhaul how you are communicating with your members. Communication is often an overlooked function within many clubs and associations. Without clear and informative communication, you risk angering your members and causing confusion. It is often necessary to have one or two volunteers that do nothing but communicate within your club. 
Below are a few ways in which you can streamline your communication.
1.       Get good contact information: When holding your membership drive every year, it is crucial to get solid contact information for every member. This should include name, address, phone number (including which number is the best to reach them) and email address. If you plan on sending out any information via email, it is also important to get permission from that individual to send such communication to their email address. 
2.       Obtain a generic email address for your club: You may sign-up for a free email address from such sites as Google, Yahoo or Hotmail. It is important that you have a tool to streamline incoming requests or questions from members. Also, as volunteers change, your email address can stay constant. Remember to always ask your members to contact the club through your email address. Email is considered better than a phone call in most instances because you will always have a written copy of all communications.  Also, your email account is a database for all the email addresses for the members of your club. 
3.       Start a Google Group, blog or website: In today’s tech world, many people use the internet first to find information.  Below are the benefits of each:
a.       Google Groups: Google groups are free. As a club, you create a group through Google that you can invite members to join. Once you are established, then you can send out one email to communicate with the group and also set-up a mini webpage. This is great tool for small clubs. For more information see: http://groups.google.com/.
b.      Blog: Many blog sites are set-up as mini web pages, except that members can post to the site, thus making it interactive. There are several free sites out there to choose from, such as Wordpress or Blogger. These blog pages operate similar to a website and this is a great place to post pictures, calendar events and contact information. 
c.       Website: This feature is not free. When starting a new website, you will need to obtain a URL (www.yoursitename.com/.net/.biz) and pay for it every year. Also, you will need to pay for a company to host your website. Unless you go with a ‘canned’ website company, meaning you build your website through their templates, then you will need an experienced website programmer. You can register a URL through such sites as Godaddy.com. Citymax.com or Decisivewebsites.com are two easy to use DIY website builders. This might be the way to go if you are a large club and can afford the ongoing expense.
4.       Start a newsletter: A newsletter does not have to be fancy, just informative and easily created on your computer. To begin, decide how often you will send out your newsletter, how you are going to deliver it (via email or paper) and what it will include. It is always best to send out your newsletter via email. This cuts down on printing and postage costs and waste (too many extra copies hanging around). If you are a small club (under 50 members), then you can send out your newsletter through your generic email address (see above).  When sending through your generic email address, remember to always “bcc” the email addresses. 
If you are a large club (over 50 members), it is best to go with a bulk email company such as
I-Contact or Constant Contact. Although these bulk email companies are not free, they are inexpensive and may give you a break on the price if you are a non-profit club.  
 Always remember, people need to hear information over and over again before it sinks in. Post your information in every way possible to capture as many readers as possible, even it seems redundant.