Bob’s Rules for A Fun Radio Club

The other night, I attended one of those unfortunate, but all too common dysfunctional radio club meetings. (The name of the club will remain confidential.) You have probably been to one of these sessions where the leadership of the club is frustrated because they feel like only a few of the members are doing all of the work. The other folks may come to the meeting but are reluctant to sign up for anything.

The topic of discussion happened to be Field Day. The plans in place were not coming together and the leadership was getting frustrated. My point of view was quite simple: if no one wants to help with Field Day, then let’s not have Field Day. Heck, this radio club stuff is supposed to be fun. If we are trying to make activities happen that people don’t want to support, then we are probably off in the weeds.

This caused some of the folks to raise their hands and say “yes, of course we should do Field Day and this is how I can help.” So things are probably on track for now. Maybe.

This situation is not unique…most clubs (of any kind) have the core group that does most of the work and the secondary group that does much less. Sometimes the players change depending on changing circumstances such as family and work obligations, but the structure tends to remain.

I came up with a couple of simple rules to avoid frustration in this kind of situation:

  1. Don’t volunteer to do anything that you aren’t personally motivated to take on. If you aren’t doing it because you truly want do, then you’ll end up resentful if other folks aren’t “doing their fair share.” It’s a volunteer organization, after all.
  2. Don’t expect others to sign up for volunteer work because you think it is important. Their priorities might be different and it is totally their decision (see Rule 1).
  3. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way. If you want to make something happen, get out in front and lead. If you don’t want to lead, then follow. Commit your own time to making it happen (see Rule #2). If you can’t lead or follow, then stay out of the way.

I get enough of this “gotta do it” stuff at work. Ham radio should be fun.

What do you think?

73, Bob K0NR

11 Replies to “Bob’s Rules for A Fun Radio Club”

  1. Bob I’ve found having to organize kills clubs , The most successful groups have a regular meeting time and place , such as breakfast on thursday about 9 at resturant x ….and only 1 rule ! ” we don’t need no stinking rules ” show up if you can , have some face to face QSO’s and enjoy >>> leave all that orgaization activity at work !!! works for us !

  2. Rule #1 is *so* true. I was president for a club for several years and there seemed to be an expectation by some members that the officers should run with any and ideas that the membership had. My position always was that the officers should support and run what they were interested in and not keep on life support initiatives that had no members who were willing to step up and volunteer for. If a member comes up with an idea and they want to see it come to fruition, they need to own it and volunteer their own time and not expect the officers to make their vision come true without them lifting a finger.

  3. Here’s a few observations about successful groups that I’ve been a part of. First, if you can arrange it, don’t collect dues. Dues, even the most pitiful ones, provide a financial incentive to stop showing up, so don’t bother collecting them. Without money, you don’t need officers either, so don’t bother having them either. You really just need a small number of people who are dedicated to making sure that your meeting space is available. After that, encourage people to come, share and talk. Put everyone on equal footing: everyone can learn, and everyone can teach. Tell them to bring whatever they are interested in to share. And don’t be one of those annoying types who talks about the “one true path to ham radio purity”.

  4. Reading blog posts like this (and yours isn’t the first) always makes me glad that the club I ended up in isn’t like this. Perfection is unattainable of course, but I just don’t think we get much of this sort of thing. Just got lucky, I guess.

  5. Hey, thanks for the comments!

    I have participated in some of those “No Rules” clubs and they do seem to work. They can be limiting in terms of big events or projects due to no treasury. But for what they are, they tend to work.

    The club in question is having some growing pains…in terms of trying to figure out what it really wants to be. It is a great bunch of hams and I think we’ll figure it out.

    73, Bob K0NR

  6. From the post, it sounds like the main thing is just that everyone thinks a club should do X, Y, and Z, but everyone’s only interested in X. Heck, if all you’re interested in is a few specific things, just do that. Personally, field day is the highlight of my ham radio year, but that doesn’t go for everyone, I’m sure. So if that’s the case here, just drop it. Do it individually rather than as a club, and instead focus on whatever it is that people actually are interested in. I think you hit the nail on the head with that. If nobody will volunteer to do something, it’s a good sign that nobody wants to do it, and it’s a hobby and a club, not a job – just don’t do it.

  7. I agree with the above post. Sure wish I was closer to any club in my state. Being in the middle of no where has draw backs….and only ticket in county is no fun. But still love getting on the air with weather reports or helping test local repeaters.

  8. Hi Bob,

    I get the same feeling regularly in the club I am a member of (and former president).

    If you agree I’d like to print your blogpost in our clubmagazine.

    Please let me know what you think.


  9. Jurgen,
    You are welcome to print this post, as long as it is non-commercial and you credit me as the author.

    Bob K0NR