My Singles Club
Starting a singles club was one of the greatest experiences of my life! It was exciting to create an organization from scratch. It was also very gratifying to do work that brought hope, fulfillment, and joy to so many people. And although it wasn’t a part of my plan, becoming a leader and somewhat of a local celebrity in my community because of it was pretty amazing as well.
I built my club in a new master planned community in California. I started it with seven (7) people who expressed interest in becoming the founding members of the board. With their help the club grew rapidly, our events were very successful, and our finances were consistently in the black.
I have never been a joiner of clubs or teams and I was always wary of singles groups. So building a singles club was truly an adventure for me. I knew that I had strong creative talents, and I had developed leadership skills in my corporate job, but I was still amazed at how quickly the club became successful!
I feel that most anyone can create a singles club. The key is to concentrate your energies on areas that you’re good at and inspire your club officers and members to use their strengths to meet the other requirements.
The methods that I will be describing are applicable to any size singles club whether it is for-profit or non-profit.
The first step in building your singles club is to design a blueprint of what you want it to become. The driving force for this is the vision and philosophy that you create for the club. This becomes the foundation for everything that will follow including the type of members that you’ll attract, the atmosphere that will exist at events, and the reputation that you’ll build in the community.
As I mentioned, I have always been wary of singles clubs. I always saw them as lonely hearts clubs. A meeting place for losers. During my research for this project and for my books, I visited many for-profit and non-profit singles clubs. I found that the makeup of the membership followed the theme and/or philosophy of the club. Many singles clubs were composed of just regular folks, and many of the members were successful and attractive. At almost every singles club I visited there were a few people who fit the negative image of a lonely hearts club member. This was true of my organization as well. Eventually I discovered that clubs of all kinds usually have a few awkward, strange, or ill-fitting members.
My goal was to create a singles club that was completely different from the stereotypical image. To do this I decided to have an emphasis for the club that was “not” centered on finding a date or a partner. My slogan, mission statement, and all my promotional materials reflected this objective. You need to do the same for your singles club.
Visualize in detail the kind of singles club that you want to create. Then develop a philosophy and plan to reflect your vision. All of this will be communicated to potential club members and to the community at large through your slogan, mission statement, brochure, website, media ads, flyer, and newsletter.
Here are descriptions for the items mentioned above.
- Slogan – A memorable phrase that best represents the singles club.
- Mission Statement – A paragraph about the purpose and goals of the club.
- Brochure – A print or digital advertisement that may include the club’s slogan, mission statement, history, services, activities, membership benefits, sign-up form, and contact information.
- Website – Basically a digital version of your club’s brochure. Should also include sign-up forms and payment methods for membership, dues, events, and trips. (I’ve had an account with Blue Host since 2004, and they offer an amazing deal and outstanding customer support.)
- Media Ads – Short print or digital message contained in a specified space to promote club/board membership, events, and activities in newspapers, newsletters, and online media with geographic targeting such as Google Adwords.
- Flyer – A single page print or digital advertisement to promote club membership or a particular special event like a dance.
- Newsletter – A regularly distributed print or digital publication that includes upcoming events, new activities, club/singles news, calendar, and a list of current club officers, and contact information.
The promotional materials listed above do not necessarily need to be completed by you. As people join the club you will most likely find people who have expertise in these areas. I had a professional graphic designer and a marketing copy editor on my board!
Your first task in designing your club’s structure is to decide whether it will be a for-profit or non-profit organization. I started my singles club as a non-profit. After it quickly became a success, I was strongly encouraged to convert it to a for-profit company. I decided to stay with my original vision and I kept it as a non-profit community organization.
From this point forward, I will be describing how to build the club as a non-profit. To make it a for-profit company, you’ll just need to change the officer titles and a few of the accounting methods.
The next step is to determine the board member positions that you’ll need to run the organization. Here are the board member titles and job functions that I used for my singles club.
- Chairman-President – Creates annual budget and plan, leads-coaches-inspires board members, presides over all meetings, and represents the club in all community matters.
- Vice President – Leads club in absence of the President. Works alongside the club president on key projects. Assists other officers as needed
- Secretary – Records, distributes, & maintains minutes from all club meetings.
- Treasurer – Manages all club financial matters.
- Marketing Director – Creates & publishes all promotional materials and maintains the club website.
- Communications Director – Composes, edits, & distributes all club communications.
- Events Director – Researches, organizes, & manages quarterly events such as dances, trips, and community projects.
- Activities Director – Researches, organizes, & manages monthly activities such as mixers, brunches, and sports.
For more information on meeting procedures, get the book entitled, “Robert’s Rules of Order.”
During the first few months, I assumed the position of Chairman and President of the singles club. Later on after the club was operating successfully, I asked the board to vote on all officer positions, including my own. In case you’re wondering, I won the vote along with the original board members. From that point, we held formal elections annually. Eventually I refused further nomination and encouraged others to take the helm.
The building phase is where it gets really exciting! This is when you will begin to share your vision of your singles club with other people and inspire them to join your quest!
If you know what type of singles club that you want, be sure to develop its vision, philosophy, and goals “before” you bring other people into the project and definitely “before” you present it to potential board members. Otherwise, everyone will have an off-the-cuff opinion on how the club should be created. Sorting out the practical options without alienating those whose ideas were not selected will take some time and skill.
If you only have a rough plan, or few if any ideas, I would suggest these two (2) options.
- Find one or two single friends to join you and then develop a vision, philosophy, and plan together as a team.
- Present whatever ideas you have to the group you have solicited to be on your board and then develop a vision, philosophy, and plan together as a team.
Developing a plan is the first step in the building process. Your plan should answer these questions:
- How will you get board members?
- What will you present at your first meeting with potential board members?
- How will you promote the club to acquire members?
- How will you promote club special events (dances) to draw attendance?
- How will you research, organize, and manage activities and events.
Here’s how I did it.
I met with my town’s activities committee, presented my idea for a singles club, and asked for their suggestions on how to get the word out. I already had an idea of what I wanted. I wanted to put an advertisement in their newsletter and find a place to hold meetings.
The board members were surprisingly supportive and offered me the following at no charge – until I got things going. Free ad space in both the activities and homeowners association newsletters, free meeting room space at the community center, and free booth/floor space at a variety of community events. In addition, they gave me several hundred dollars to cover the cost of printing and distributing our brochures, flyers, and newsletters. I was flabbergasted. (Clearly the power of intention, attraction, and visualization at work!)
I also was able to get FREE ad space in local weekly and daily newspapers and in the newsletters of apartment complexes, homeowners associations, local companies, and public institutions.
I found out that freebies were a frequent benefit of being a non-profit organization. People are especially willing to help a “new” non-profit group. I rarely had to ask for a donation. Usually products and services were just freely given.
My first task was to find people who were interested in helping me build and manage the club by becoming founding members of the board. I did this by creating an ad about the new singles club and the need for board members to help build and run it. I published the ad for free, as mentioned above, in my town’s activities and homeowner’s association newsletters and in a local weekly newspaper. I received responses from seven (7) people who were interested in being on the board and from dozens more who wanted to join the club!
Now that I had the names and contact information for seven (7) potential board members, I invited them to a meeting. In preparation for the meeting, I created posters and handouts on everything that I was going to discuss. At the meeting, I presented my vision, philosophy, goals, and plan for the singles club. I was delighted and amazed by the enthusiastic response I received from everyone. Each person in attendance made a commitment to join the board and help build the club.
Now that I had a management team, we were ready to start building the membership. Here is the sequence of activities we worked on to build membership and produce activities and events.
- Created & distributed/published these promotional materials to gain club membership: website, media ads, brochures, and flyers/email.
- Planned this first group of monthly activities: mixer, brunch, and volleyball.
- Created & distributed/published these promotional materials to promote upcoming activities: website ad/calendar, club newsletter ad/calendar, and flyers/email.
- Planned our first quarterly dance.
- Created & distributed/published these promotional materials to promote the dance: website ad/calendar, media ads, club newsletter ad/calendar, and flyer/email.
Our dances were our biggest and most popular event. We would invite the entire community. Our goals for our quarterly dances were:
- Produce an event that ensured that our members had an unforgettable evening.
- Demonstrate the philosophy and vision of the club by producing a first-class event.
- Promote the club to increase membership.
- Sell enough tickets to generate a profit to fund our treasury so that we can continue to produce events.
Here are some important insights I learned about community relations.
Even with all the support that I got from the activities committee, I soon found out that community relations can be tricky. In the beginning, I would sometimes hear about someone making a distasteful remark about my “singles club” at some community meeting. To overcome any concerns and change the preconceived notions about singles clubs, I put forth a lot of effort into promoting the vision and philosophy of the club. I also made sure that our performance at community events was excellent. It all worked!
I’ve come to understand that the establishment of any type of singles organization challenges the traditions of community institutions that were created to serve families and couples, not singles. This was true even though the singles population in my town was 46%. It’s now 50.3% nationally, according to the 2006 U.S. Census. Changing these obsolete traditions so that singles have an equal standing within society is one of the goals of Solotopia.
Club operations are managed primary at board meetings. Fulfillment of board member responsibilities and assignments are usually done independently. At monthly club activities and quarterly events, we all work together as a team.
I found that board member meeting frequency gradually decreased as the club became more organized. Here are the meeting types, frequencies, durations, and agendas for my club.
- Monthly Club Formation Meetings – Duration: 3-6 months. Agenda: Election of officers, club organization, brainstorming, planning, and project assignment.
- Monthly Club Organizational Meetings – Duration: 6-12 months. Agenda: Officer reports, project assignment reports, and future planning.
- Quarterly Club Organizational Meetings – Duration: On going. Agenda: Officer reports, project assignment reports, future planning, and annual officer elections.
Operating income came from these sources:
- Membership initiation fees. These fees were submitted along with sign-up information as people joined the club. Membership fees were much more than annual renewal fees.
- Annual membership renewal fees. These fees were collected annually after the first full year of membership. Annual renewal fees were much less than membership fees.
- Quarterly dance entrance fees. Entrance fees covered the cost the room or facility, DJ or band, and decorations. Refreshments, cocktails, and food were extra. Profits were automatically donated to the club.
- Raffles of products and services donated by local business. Raffles were primary conducted at the dances. Participants could buy tickets for a drawing to win donated gifts. The proceeds from these sales would be donated to the club.
- Fundraising activities at community events. Here’s an example. At a western-themed community carnival one summer, we sold (loaded) water pistols from our donated booth. We sold out! We also promoted singles club membership at the same time.
All of the funds we collected from these and any other source were added to our treasury, which was maintained at a local bank. The funds were used primary for website hosting, board member meeting rooms, deposits for various activity/event venues, media ads, newsletters, flyers, and postage. No salaries were given to board members.
Your Singles Club
The possibilities for the type of singles club that you can create are enormous. I would suggest that you concentrate your efforts on building a club that matches your personal philosophies and passions. For example, if you are passionate about sports then you should create a club with a sports focus. If you are into health and fitness, then you should build a club with this emphasis. If you are into environmental or social issues then organize your club around your mission.
The size and formality of a singles club can vary widely as well. I’ve always thought that it might be interesting to create a mini singles club composed of only 6-12 members. I envision the relationship of its members to be a mix between “Seinfeld” and “Friends” television shows.
To learn about living a rich, fulfilling single life, read the article entitled, “Singlehood!”
As I see it, the most important goal in creating a singles club is to bring singles together to enjoy, enrich, and support one another. As the singles population has grown worldwide, so has the need to create our own community. A singles club can provide that community for the singles in your part of the world.
If you succeed in creating your own singles club or have already done so, tell me about it in an email here.