Starting a Collector Car Club by zhouwenjuan

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									Starting a Collector Car Club
/ John Gunnell



My favorite car club started when a man from California couldn’t find a grille for a 1926 coupe he
was restoring. He ran an ad in a hobby publication and, before long he had his grille and 200 new
friends. The number of people interested in his type of car inspired him to start a club that now
has 12,000 members throughout the world — which goes to show you how many people love
collectible cars.

You may not have such a big organization in mind, but this article will give you advice that’s
useful for starting a club of any size and making it successful.

Why Start a Collector Car Club?
As a rule, collector car clubs form: 1) to preserve classic cars; 2) to promote interest in antique
and classic cars; 3) to help antique and classic car owners network; 4) to provide classic car
owners with social activities and 5) to help classic car owners fix and maintain their cars. Clubs
hold meetings, distribute newsletters or magazines, plan shows, publish books, make
reproduction parts, sell club garments, hold tech sessions and pool resources to organize club
workshops.

You should first answer a few questions to see if a new collector car club is needed. Are there
similar clubs? Will starting a club solve a problem? Can the club provide needed services? Can
your club attract enough collector car enthusiasts to grow? Will other collector car owners benefit
from your club? After answering these questions, you’ll know why you are starting a club.

Picking a Good Name Is Important
Picking a good name for your classic car club is important. Let’s say you decided to call it “The
Collector Car Club of Tuxedo Junction.” By limiting the focus to “Tuxedo Junction,” you have
scared away members who live just outside the city limits. The name you pick should draw as
many people with a common interest as possible. It should also be short, simple and easy to
remember. Because many clubs wind up being referred to by their initials, a club’s acronym
should have a ring to it. For example, Wisconsin’s Ripon Area Car Enthusiasts Club is also
known as the RACE Club, a name that rolls off the tongue and sticks in your memory.

A Good Club Needs a Good Constitution
One of the strengths of America’s Constitution is that the framers of the document worked so
hard to get it right the first time. After determining why you want to start a collector car club and
picking a name for the club, you will be faced with the job of creating a framework on which to
“build” the club. Get it right! Often, it’s best to avoid the “committee approach” during this phase.
Leadership is needed to get the ball rolling. Basic decisions are best left to a small number of
people or even one person. Most good car clubs have one or two founders who start the ball
rolling in the right direction. Once the club is formed, refinements can always be made. Few car
clubs get bogged down on parliamentary procedures. Most use Roberts Rules of Order Newly
Revised (www.robertsrules.com) as the basis for conducting meetings.

The foundation of the club — the structure on which it’s built — will be its constitution and
bylaws.

Dues
Setting proper dues is important. In general, it isn’t a good idea to “guestimate” the costs you’ll
run into (postage, printing, trophies, etc.) and “back out” the amount of dues. For one thing, your
estimates could be way off. In addition, your dues will have to be competitive with that of other
clubs. It’s far easier to base your dues on hobby standards, get as many memberships as you
can through good promotion, and then create a budget to keep your expenses in line with
income. Make the services match the income, instead of going the other way around.
Incorporating
Incorporation of your collector car club is a good idea. This sets up the organization as a separate
legal entity. There are tax implications that being incorporated will help you deal with.
Corporations have certain legal rights that individuals do not have. Getting your club incorporated
makes it look more official and stable. It’ll help if you want to trademark the club name and/or logo
too. For information about getting a trademark, contact the United States Patent and Trademark
Office at www.uspto.gov. Being incorporated also makes the organization, rather than the individual
officers, liable if any legal problems should arise. If nothing else, this will make people more
comfortable in serving the club as an officer.

Statement of Principles
One final important step in organizing your new car club is to create a statement outlining the
principles of your group. This should cover many of the same points addressed in your club
constitution but be expressed in simple prose. Once you state the club’s principles, they can be
used to promote new memberships. The statement of principles will also be helpful if you decided
to file for tax-exempt status. The first part of your club constitution can easily be reworded to
create your statement of principles, for example:

We the members of Your Collector Car Club Inc., a nonprofit educational and social club, are
committed to the goals of: (1) gaining information about collectible automobiles; (2) exchanging
ideas among the many collector car owners throughout the world; and (3) helping people
throughout the world to better enjoy the collector car and its history through the publications,
shows, events and other activities organized and sponsored by our membership for public
enjoyment.



Nonprofit status for tax purposes is commonly referred to as “501(c)(3)” status after the Internal
Revenue Code section of the same name. 501(c)(3) status allows a club to receive donations for
which donators can receive a tax write-off. Depending on local law, 501(c)(3) status can also
allow a club to receive benefits and breaks that ease a charitable mission, such as being eligible
for reduced government fees, or exempt it from certain laws, such as those against running a
raffle. For more information on 501(c)(3) status, go to
www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=96099,00.html.

John “Gunner” Gunnell is the automotive books editor at Krause Publications in Iola, Wis., and
former editor of Old Cars Weekly and Old Cars Price Guide.

								
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