GUIDE FOR STARTING A NEW CLUB

Clubs are a wonderful place to make friends and learn violets from fellow growers who live in your area and know what works.

To build a great club requires a little work at the beginning, and we have laid out the steps for you here. The legal steps are the most daunting but also very important. Once that’s done, the rest gets easy. Enjoy the process! We look forward to watching your group grow!

Graphic Join African Violet Society of America
MORE QUESTIONS?

Contact the AVSA Affiliate Chair affiliate@avsa.org

Start a New Club – Who Me?

Almost every African violet club started with someone who wished that there was a club in their area. If that is you, then this might be the day for you to consider how to make a club happen. There are lots of ways to make it happen. But first, let’s answer a few questions.

  1. Because they enjoy growing violets too.
  2. Because they want to learn and make friends with other growers.
  3. Because they want a support group
    1. to share their enjoyment (and maybe some cuttings),
    2. provide motivation to grow better,
    3. and advise them when there is trouble.
  4. Because they already belong to the African Violet Society of America but didn’t know anyone else lived so close to them.
  1. The African Violet Society of America can provide useful tools to a new club such as sample bylaws, program suggestions, free old magazines, and tips.
  2. Affiliated clubs may sponsor an AVSA show once a year. AVSA provides judges and a set of standards to challenge and encourage your club members to grow better plants. Shows are also outstanding tools for finding new members for your club.

Affiliated club shows receive free advertising in the African Violet Magazine and on the website Events page.

  1. Contact the AVSA Affiliate Chair to say hello and ask questions.
  2. Find a group of potential members – at least three or four. (More on how to do this is below.)
  3. Set up a meeting date and plan a fun relaxed first time gathering.
  4. Write a set of bylaws. AVSA can provide you with guidelines. (The sample bylaws are especially helpful in providing language required to satisfy IRS and Banking regulations.)
  5. Elect officers.
  6. Affiliate your club with the African Violet Society of America by paying the Affiliate Dues.
  7. Learn, have fun, make friends, grow better violets!

There aren’t many rules until you want to host an AVSA Standard Show.

  1. The club must pay annual dues to maintain its status as an AVSA Affiliate.
  2. The club should update the club information as needed with AVSA. Everyone benefits when the club contact information is correct.
  3. Clubs may have a dual affiliation with the Gesneriad Society.
  4. Clubs may meet as often as they wish. Many clubs meet once a month, but some regional groups meet only once or twice a year.
  • Ask the AVSA Affiliate Chair affiliate@avsa.org to provide you with a list of AVSA members in your specific zip codes or state. These names will be accompanied with a mailing address so that you may invite them with a postcard or letter.
  • Contact The Violet Barn, supplying them with 50-100 postcards about your new club. On request, they are willing to include a postcard in every shipment they send to your area.
  • Have a garage sale that features only African violets. Walt Maurus held a 3-day sale and found 40 individuals interested in forming a club! (African Violet Magazine, June 1985)
  • Join a Facebook African violet group (Such as AV Nerds, AV Buddies, AV Addicts) and post about your plans for a new club. And post photos there as your club grows.
  • Ask AVSA to list your new club information with a contact in a weekly Growing Tip.
  • Teach a class at a local garden center, botanical garden, community college, and/or as a city parks and recreation program. The class doesn’t have to be complicated – propagating a leaf, basic care, or how to repot a violet with a neck. Be sure to bring information with you about the new club which is forming.
  • Offer to be a speaker for various civic or garden club groups, and provide information for joining the new club.
  • Send postcards to local garden editors and journalists in your area, inviting them to call if they would like more information. Be sure that they have the Who, What, When, Where, Why with a contact phone or email, so that they have the option of publishing it in a listing of local events.
  • Go online to find local news media and community bulletin boards who offer online forms to complete for your event.
  • Set up a display of lovely African violets at a county fair, festival, or boutique and make sure your new club information is available.
  • As you advertise your club, remember to advertise the African Violet Society of America too. It gives you credibility! And AVSA sells culture brochures which answer many questions and offers free back issues (for the cost of the postage) of the African Violet Magazines. When your new members belong to AVSA, they are more likely to stay active in your club and to become leaders.

Legal Checklist

If your club goals include having a sale or maintaining a treasury, then your group needs to become a legal non-profit entity under state and federal rules. Banking rules require that these papers be in place before accounts may be opened.

#1 Meet the Federal requirements for a non-profit group.

Write Your Articles of Incorporation for the IRS in your “Organizing Document.”

SEE IRS REQUIREMENTS

#2 Contact Your State for Procedures

Please contact your Secretary of State and ask the procedure to become a non-profit in your state.  Or, if possible, check their website, it is usually full of helpful information.  Remember, use the word NON-PROFIT and not tax exempt.

Each state is different in its requirements for “Organizing Documents.” Usually the easiest way to become a non-profit is to file the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State.

TIP:  NON-PROFIT status is state law – TAX-EXEMPT status is federal law

All tax-exempt organizations are nonprofit, but not all nonprofits are necessarily tax-exempt.

Downloadable pdf Sample bylaws for AVSA Affiliate 

Sample African Violet Society Bylaws

Article I – Name and Objective

  1. The name of this organization shall be _____________
  2.  The object of this non-profit society shall be
    1. to provide an association for people interested in the culture of African violets and other gesneriads
    2. to promote distribution of varieties among members and others
    3. to share reliable practical information

Article II – Membership and Dues

  1. Any person interested in African violets shall be eligible for membership
  2. The amount of dues for membership shall be determined by a vote of the membership.
  3. Dues shall be payable in advance to the Treasurer for the coming fiscal year.
  4. Each paid active member is entitled to vote in the business meetings of this club.
  5. The fiscal year shall be from _____ to _____.

Article III – Meetings and Quorum

  1. There will be ____ regular meetings each year, normally on the ______ of each month.
  2.  Special meetings may be called by the President and two other elected officers.
  3. A quorum at any club meeting shall be one-fourth of the active membership.
  4. The dissolution of the society may be made with a quorum vote, provided all members are notified ________ weeks before the vote. Any remaining monies in the treasury shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.

Article IV – Officers and Their Duties

  1. The officers of the society shall be president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. The officers constitute the Executive Committee.
  2. The President shall preside at all meetings, appoint all committees, and fill vacancies of officers for unexpired term. The president shall also supervise the affairs of the society and assume any other duty necessary for the good of the society.
  3. The vice-president shall preside in the absence of the president and serve as the program chairman.
  4. The secretary shall keep a permanent record of all meetings of the society and shall conduct all correspondence of the society as authorized by the president. The secretary shall maintain the membership roster, notify the membership when dues are payable, and other duties as directed by the president.
  5. The treasurer shall keep an accurate record of all funds received and make disbursements (with valid voucher) as authorized by the membership. The treasurer shall
    1. have authority to open and close bank accounts as needed, to transfer funds, and to receive bank statements;
    2. sign all checks and pay all bills approved by the society
    3. give a detailed report at each meeting
    4. collect all dues and give receipts, and shall notify members whose dues remain unpaid.
    5. pay dues to the African Violet Society of America every year
    6. file the federal 990N form and the state sales tax report, as well as any other required government forms, in a timely manner
    7. submit the Treasurer’s books for review when directed by the President.

Article V – Elections

  1. Election of officers shall be held in odd-numbered years in the month of ____. If more than one candidate is nominated for the same office, a written ballot must be taken. The candidate who receives a plurality of the vote shall be elected.
  2. A Nominating Committee shall be appointed two months prior to the election, consisting of two members appointed by the president to complete the slate. Nominations may be made from the floor.
  3. The term of office shall be two years. and officers may serve two consecutive terms.
  4. Officers shall assume their duties at the meeting immediately following the election. All records shall be delivered to the successor within one month of the election.

Article VI – Amendments

  1. These bylaws may be amended at any regular meeting, providing the amendment has been submitted in writing at a previous meeting and that each member has been notified at least two weeks preceding the vote at a regular meeting.
  2. A two-thirds vote of the members present shall be required to make any change to these bylaws.

Article VII – Parliamentary Authority

Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised (current edition) shall be the parliamentary authority to cover questions of procedure not provided for in these bylaws.

Every organization must have an employer identification number, even if it will not have employees.  The EIN is a unique number that identifies the organization to the IRS.

To apply for an EIN, please either fill out the highlighted areas on the current Form SS-4, or call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 and provide them the information from the SS-4.

Please note that the EIN is not your “tax exempt number.”

Using the EIN number received from the IRS, open a separate checking account for your organization.

It is very important to keep the organization’s funds separate from an individual’s funds.  In other words, please do not write checks from or make deposits to personal checking accounts on behalf of the organization.

Sales & Use Tax

The state revenue departments of each state govern the sales and use tax laws.  Please check with your state as to whether nonprofit organizations are required to collect and remit sales and use tax.  If required, a permit may need to be applied for.

Form 990-N (e-Postcard)

If your organization’s gross receipts are normally less than $25,000, you will be required to file Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard.  The form must be completed and filed electronically.  There is no paper form.  (Please see www.IRS.gov/charities)

The e-Postcard is easy to complete.  All you need is the following information about your organization.

  1. EIN
  2. Tax Year
    1. There are two kinds of tax years:
      1. Calendar Tax Year -Beginning January 1 and ending December 31.
    2. Fiscal Tax Year – Which is a period of 12 consecutive months ending on the last day of any month except December.
  3. Legal name and mailing address
  4. Any other names the organization uses
  5. Name and address of a principal officer
  6. Website address if the organization has one
  7. Confirmation (yes or no) if the annual gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less
  8. If applicable, organization termination

Affiliate with AVSA

Once your club is formed, the next step is to become an AVSA Affiliate.

There are perks to becoming an AVSA affiliated club.

  • Each affiliate receives one copy of the African Violet Magazine.
  • All affiliate clubs are featured on the AVSA website, and AVSA Facebook is happy to promote new groups.
  • The AVSA Store offers many products useful for affiliates, including educational programs, culture brochures, and show supplies – at member pricing.
  • AVSA offers liability insurance to clubs at a reasonable rate to protect your club at meetings, shows, and sales. Contact the AVSA Office for information.
  • AVSA promotes your affiliate events – free of charge – in the magazine, AVSA Events and in AVSA social media.
  • AVSA provides a structure for hosting a show, with guidelines in the Judges Handbook, lists of current AVSA judges,  and AVSA awards.

One person must serve as the Administrator for the club and may affiliate online or by mail using the white cover-wrap of a recent African Violet Magazine

  1. On the initial page choose “Affiliate” for your type of membership.
  2. If the Administrator is a member of AVSA, he/she should sign in. If the Administrator is not an AVSA member, it will be necessary to set up an account.
  3. Click on the tab “Create Organization” to complete details, including the mailing address both for the affiliate’s billing and for delivery of the club’s copy of the African Violet Magazine.
  4. Pay the cost of dues.

Growing a Club

Congratulations! You’ve started a club! Now make it fun and educational.

Now you need to promote your club so that you can grow and add members. Here’s some ideas which have worked for others.

  • Create a logo which should include your club name in an interesting design. AVSA can provide you with the name of a graphic designer who will assist clubs in creating unique logos for a reasonable hourly fee. This logo should be used on all other advertising your club creates.
  •  Create a website to draw new members and promote your club activities. There are many free website builders which are easy to use. (Try internet search on “Free Website Builder.”)
  • Create a Facebook page, a Pinterest board or other social media site to communicate with members and to create a warm community for sharing ideas and coming events with potential new members.
  • Build a list of contacts to generate interest and inform of upcoming meetings. Contact local floral and garden clubs to help promote your new group. Request a list (affiliate@avsa.org) of AVSA members living within zip codes in your area to invite them to visit a meeting.
  • Offer to do a free program at a local library, nursery, or community college. Be sure to have club information (and AVSA information) to share with attendees, and collect contact information on sign-up sheets.
  • Look for free advertising on your local community websites such as NextDoor, garage sale websites, or media outlets who publish lists of local coming events.
  • Contact the media, such as newspapers or local radio/television stations with a press release about the new club and the knowledge you are able to share about growing violets.
  • Create business cards or postcards and carry them with you to share at garden centers, libraries, etc. Be sure the cards have your club logo or at least a picture of a violet, with the who, what, when, where, how and why of joining.

People will come to your club meetings for many reasons. They often join to learn more about violets, but they stay because they made a friend and they feel comfortable.

As your club grows be sure to continually ask, understand and incorporate those reasons/ideas into the club agendas.   Listening and responding to those needs will keep people coming back and bringing others.

Try to keep business meetings short and to the point. Get to the program as fast as you can.

Have interesting programs, and encourage participation so that everyone has a chance to say something in the group at every meeting. A regular “question of the month” (which invites each member to describe where they first saw violets, what their favorite products or colors are, how they water, etc.) gets members better acquainted and helps everyone feel important and appreciated.

Consider going on field trips to local hydroponic stores, to local botanical gardens or nurseries, or even to members’ homes. Consider having one meeting a year that is purely social and fun.

Share violets! Set up a small sales table or a raffle drawing at every meeting where members may share and exchange violets and related items. Offer leaf or tip cuttings of plants used for the meeting program. Sharing your favorite plants with others is good insurance against losses in your own collection.