First idea is leadership. Someone has to want to do it and inspire others to participate. It takes time and commitment. This is no small thing to ask for people who are trying find time to detect, hold down a job and have a home/family life. So, besides a leader, there need to be some
helpers. From the leader to the helpers they are all volunteers. They don't get paid for any of the tasks they perform for the club. It is their personal time they are giving to you. It is a gift. Don't look the gift horse in the mouth.
So, what kind of helpers are needed? Someone to keep the website, write and mail a newsletter, a treasurer, someone to run the 50/50 and raffles, someone to get prizes for find of the month and the raffles. If you have group hunts or planted hunts, people need to organize those as well. No one person can do it all. So, if you just had the helpers I listed, you'd need seven people willing to volunteer to run parts of the club. Yes, volunteer. That means they do this work for free, and no doubt it is work.
Where do you find dedicated people with enthusiasm or at least a sense of commitment to do all the thankless work? Don't say it's not thankless... 90% of the time, it is. There are always rabblerousers who pay their membership fee, offer no volunteering or help, and want the world on a platter. This is not a retail store, one does not just "buy" a membership. It's an organization of people with a common interest and beliefs. Friendship and fraternity are key elements of a successful hobby club. You have to put something in (more than a membership fee) to get something out. If you need or want something from your club, ask nicely and be willing to help.
I was musing just now what a full-service metal detecting club would cost to operate, a country club of detecting. To pay for the wages for the things most club members do for free would probably be $50,000 to $100,000 a year. Let's see, say 50 members, that's $1,000-2,000 per year for a full service metal detecting club. That's a pretty exclusive detecting club!
I just thought of more people you'll need... a photographer (maybe someone to make short videos too) and someone to organize the yearly dinner. That's 9 people now. Where was I? Oh right, where do these people come from? The simple answer is I don't know. Some have boundless energy, but only for a short time. Others have family and job obligations that keep them from participating.
Another thing clubs and club members should be doing is lobbying government officials for metal detecting rights. And don't even think about asking for privleges unless the club is also advocating responsible and honorable behavior and training members in proper recovery techniques. Sadly, all it takes is one person to ruin a club's reputation or to close public sites to metal detecting.
So wow, this idea of a simple metal detecting club is getting really complicated, isn't it. No wonder so many have fallen by the wayside.
So, you need a meeting place too if you're going to have meetings. A place where everyone feels comfortable and interested members of the public can stop by. Public places such as libraries, historical societies, and parks are all great free places to meet. These reputable and respected locations have the added bonus of lending a sense of acceptability and legitimacy to your club. Not much fun if no one shows up to your meeting. How do you get people to make the metal detecting club a priority and show up every time? Is it the finds contest, the raffles, the prizes, a presentation or demonstration, a dinner or a group hunt? Different things appeal to different people, and with a small group, it's hard to please everyone every time so keeping activities varied is a help.
A club should have a public service component. The club can have a clean up day at the park, offer metal detecting services to local law enforcement, or any of 100 other ways of giving back. Every member should do something either individually or as part of the group. Why would you want this? Because it's great publicity for one, and secondly it shows that you do truly care about your community - a group of takers and users are not going to get much sympathy from local officials or the public when their rights are at risk.
Clubs should also be members of the FMDAC,The Federation of Metal Detecting and Archaeological Clubs. I have not been a great fan of the FMDAC and have found their responsiveness to members to be lacking. However, they are an organized front that represents and fights for our hobby. The more involved we are with FMDAC, the more they can do for us.
Now about the internet, which my aunt still considers a "fad," I promise it is not. There are still quite a few detector users who are not computer users though. Hard for many of us reading this online to believe, but it's true. That said, I think all clubs should have a web presence. Even if the club pays someone's teenage child a few dollars a month to keep a website going. Without local detector dealers recommending your club, how will people find it? A virtual club in addition to the physical club helps keep people connected, even when they may not be able to dedicate much time to their club or detecting. It also serves as a valuable resource to publicize the club and get new members.
Speaking of new members, ongoing recruiting needs to be a goal of the club. If you are not attracting new members, eventually there will be none. People stop attending club meetings for many reasons, some of which can be when they get busy with other hobbies, lose interest, disagree with others, have family issues, or illness. Clubs should have a goal of attracting new members and keeping them, maybe even offering some sort of bonus or award for existing members signing up new members.
Awards and prizes. I don't know about you, but I no longer need a silver half dollar as a "prize" when I win find of the month. I already have the find of the month, what greater reward do I need? Recognition is great, but a simple certificate serves me just as well as a coin. The thrill of competition is what keeps me going, rather than the promise of a reward. In a club I was a member of we had categories for find of the month. Best coin, oldest coin, relic, jewelry, button, etc. Back then I worked hard at getting something to enter in each category. I remember a friend and I went out one day specifically looking for buttons to enter in the contest. Now that kept things interesting and got us thinking outside the box about our usual detecting.