It all started with a doll or two you saved from your childhood, and a couple more you bought at a yard sale because you thought they were cute. Then, your friends and family brought you some more dolls as souvenirs. Soon, you realize that you are a doll collector. You perform your due diligence, but there are no clubs within driving distance of your home. What do you do? You start your own doll club!!
1. One way to start a club is to visit local flea markets, antique shows, doll shows, auctions, and doll auctions. Zero in on dealers who sell dolls, and ask them if they would like to be part of our club. Antique and doll folk are friendly, creative, hardworking, and resourceful people who love to talk shop. You might have an “instant” club by the time you leave the show.
2. Check the rates, but you might be able to pay a reasonable amount to take out an ad in your local paper, in an antique magazine, auction newspaper, or doll magazine. Local papers work well because you would be able to find potential club members within driving distance.
• Decide what kind of dolls your club will include; will it be a club for al collectors? Teddy collectors? Antique dolls? Monster High? Barbie? Shirley Temple?
• Once you gather the group, decide if you will use Roberts Rules of Order to guide you. Create by-laws and a charter. Some clubs become 501c nonprofit corporations and elect officers. There is information on forming a nonprofit at your state’s Secretary of State’s website and on the IRS’ site, irs.gov. Many clubs, however, are not incorporated and choose to remain. The number of members, your club’s mission, and experience in club organization will help you to decide how formal or informal the club will be.
3. If you are interested in soliciting interest in a local club, ask about setting up an information table at an antique show, flea market, toy show, or doll show. Mary Lewis, the Muse behind The United Federation of Doll Clubs, went on a radio show to get members, and then lectured and traveled to encourage doll collectors to form clubs. Local radio and television stations especially PBS stations have segments for community announcements. Get on one of these and announce an exploratory meeting for founding a doll club. If you have a local talk show, show if you can get on it to show off a few dolls and talk about your club. Local news shows are a good place to start, too, or talk to the feature editor of your local paper about a story on forming your club.
4. Many local businesses and cafes have bulletin boards, or places to leave business cards. Make up some fliers and business cards for your club, e.g., put your name and contact information on some business cards with the title, “Doll Club Promoter” and hand them out.
5. Start a Facebook page or use your social media to gauge interest in starting an online doll club. Doll groups and pages are also great places to see what interests collectors have and to get advice.
6. Plan an event at your local library or another venue where you can have room to hold a meeting, safe parking, and comfortable seating. Hold an informational meeting. It never hurts to have refreshments at these affairs, and maybe a door prize or two.
7. Let your friends and family know you want to start a doll club. Network all you can. You never know where you will get ideas.
8. Study how other organizations, especially nonprofit ones, began. Look at the history of other hobby clubs in your area, of craft guilds, art groups, etc. See how they operate, when they meet, what kinds of activities they plan.
9. For more help, contact The United Federation of Doll Clubs, www.ufdc.org. They have a contact person who will help you with starting a club, or even staring an online doll club.