Starting a CGOA Chapter
Crocheters from coast to coast have found that local chapters are exciting places to meet new people, learn more about this wonderful fiber art form, and share their love of crochet. The Crochet Guild of America was founded in 1994 and now has over 2,500 members and nearly 40 chapters.
All of our chapters were started by people like yourself who wanted to "spread the word" about crochet. Some chapters began with just a few people who wanted to get together with others. Some began when several people from the same area attended CGOA's annual Chain Link Crochet Conference and decided to take the enthusiasm generated at the conference home with them.
Each chapter is unique and as different as the crocheters who attend the meetings. But under the CGOA umbrella, we come together as a national organization dedicated to the art and craft of crochet.
Here are several suggestions that others have tried that might be helpful to you. Remember this will be your chapter and you can structure it to best suit your chapter's needs.
1. Meeting rooms at community centers, libraries, and churches are often available at no charge. It may be helpful to mention that you are part of a non-profit national organization. You might also try your local yarn or craft shop as they are usually happy to offer support to groups that bring them new customers. Of course, you may choose to meet in a private home, but most people feel more comfortable attending a new meeting in a public place. It is also better to have the meeting at the same place and the same time each month so people can plan to attend.
2. Publicize your meetings. Most newspapers, public radio stations and cable TV stations have a free community service listing for clubs and organizations. At your local library there is a resource guide that will list all your local newspapers. Contact these newspapers and ask them where a press release should be sent. Usually it will be to the editor, but you may need to send the press release by mail, fax, or email, per the newspaper's requirements. Sample press releases are available from the CGOA Chapter Developer. A press release is anything newsworthy about something going to happen or that has happened. Many small town newspapers will appreciate your input. A simple poster on 8.5 x 11 paper with the name of your group, meeting date and time (e.g., 2nd Monday at 7 PM), place of meeting and phone number of contact person can also be used as a flyer/mailer.
At the Meeting
3. Structure your chapter meetings as you like, but don't forget to introduce yourself to first-time visitors and make everyone welcome. Everyone enjoys "show and tell" time; plus a time to answer questions and solve crochet problems is helpful to new crocheters. Your own chapter members may be willing to share a favorite topic by teaching a new technique to the group. Your chapter may also want to become involved in a community service project such as crocheting afghans, hats and mittens for a homeless shelter, demonstrating crochet at a local fair, or teaching children to crochet.
Running the Chapter
4. Your chapter can be informal or formal. Some chapters choose to have officers and others are more informal, polling the membership when a decision needs to be made. Some chapters collect dues ($10 per year is typical) to be used for expenses within their local chapter (e.g., newsletter, meeting expenses) and others do not. Some chapters allow guests to visit one meeting for free; then charge a $5 guest or instructional fee.
5. There is a chapter affiliation fee of $40, paid to CGOA and mailed in with your Application for Chapter Affiliation. This fee enables CGOA to offer communications with your chapter by listing on the CGOA Web site. After this the fee is only $10 a year.
6. At least one member of your chapter is required to be an individual member of the Crochet Guild of America. There is no minimum number of members to begin a chapter. All members must be listed on the Application for Chapter Affiliation.
7. CGOA requests that you draw up Chapter Bylaws similar to the CGOA Bylaws.
Clear-cut Steps to Beginning Your Chapter
- Contact other crochet enthusiasts.
- Set a date, time and place to organize your group.
- At your first meeting: set goals for your chapter's future; plan programs, and elect temporary officers.
- Send in the Application for Chapter Affiliation.
Remember, the main thing is to have fun and share your love of crochet with others.
Good luck and keep those hooks flying!
Inquiries about starting a CGOA chapter:
Contact CGOA headquarters at CGOA@crochet.org
Please include your city and state!
Ideas for Chapter Programs
Thoughts on Retail Yarn Shops and Local Chapters
Chapter sometimes have difficulty finding meeting places that do not charge rent or require them to have insurance. Retail yarn shops can be a solution for them. It can be a win-win for the chapter AND the shop, as long as each has a good understanding of what the arrangement parameters are. Shops may find that hosting chapter meetings provides them with added visibility among crocheters and increased traffic, but it is important that shops be careful not to hold unreasonable expectations of the chapter members. Shops have been known to drive away local groups because of demands that they only buy supplies from their store, etc. This can be an especially touchy situation if there are other yarn shops in the area.
Shops also need to consider what hosting a chapter can mean in the way of obligations. For example, will the chapter meet during business hours? If so, is there adequate parking so that other customers can easily get to the shop? Or will the chapter meet after business hours? If so, are employees available to supervise? Nothing can put a wedge between a shop and a chapter faster than an accusation of theft (whether true or not) because no one was there to keep watch.
Shops who "found” a chapter also need to keep in mind that CGOA does not consider those who "found” chapters to be "owners” of the chapter. (Dues paid to start a chapter do not make one the chapter's "owner”.) Hopefully, these thoughts will help chapters and shops take in all considerations when thinking of working together – and a happy mutual arrangement can be set in place. It can be rewarding for both sides!