General Category > General Pink Pistols Discussion

Starting A Chapter: Some IMPORTANT points!

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Gwendolyn Patton:
Every once in a while, I find that someone has started a Pink Pistols chapter, and I know nothing about them.

This is usually because they've done everything in the Utility Manual regarding starting a chapter EXCEPT for one step.

If you're starting a chapter, you need to get in touch with me so I can put you on the list. Here's the basic steps for starting a chapter:

* Choose your service area. This is the radius around your chapter you intend to serve. Don't bite off too large an area; a good service area is as far as you can comfortably drive to go shooting. No more than an hour, usually.
* Pick a descriptive name for your chapter. Don't name your chapter after the entire state unless the entire state is small enough to fit in your service area.
* Find at least one, preferably more, people to help you get started. We do not add solo-start chapters to the chapter list anymore, because they nearly never thrive. Adding even one more person exponentially increases your chances of success!
* Set up some kind of web presence. This can be a Facebook page, a website, a Meetup group, a mailing list, whatever. It just has to have an URL I can put on the website so people can find you to join you.
* Email me and tell me when you're ready with all of those other things. Tell me the name and service area, and let me know how many people you're starting with. If you're still alone at this point, go back to step 3 and come back when you have more people with you. Once you've done ALL of these steps, I'll put you on the webpage.
There are good reasons for ALL of these steps. They're the minimum you need to set up a thriving chapter. You can do other stuff as well -- get your range lined up, find a place to meet socially such as a restaurant, get a Google Voice phone number, set up a chapter Gmail account or other email address...the list goes on and on. But those steps are the MINIMUM.

The ones that seem to go by the wayside are #3 and #5. People try to start a chapter alone and wonder why they're losing interest after 3-4 months. It's because they're out of energy, having tried to go it alone. GET SOMEONE ELSE to help you! Also, if you can't find at least one other person to help you get started, is there really sufficient demand in your area right now? Then they forget to contact me to put them on the list. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you have the other things set up, really. You don't need to tell me the names, etc. of the other people in your chapter, I don't keep track of that stuff. There are no membership forms and no database. I keep track of the contact info for the chapter head so I can contact them when/if a reporter wants to contact the chapter. Then I forward the reporter's info to the chapter founder. I NEVER give out that info to ANYONE without your permission.

Some ask me if they should get a 501(c) incorporation. The reason is that they want to do fundraising, collect donations, sell stuff, that sort of thing.

I don't want chapters to get snarled up in that stuff. There's a few reasons why. One is that the more bureaucratic stuff you get involved in, the more you have to tell to Uncle Sugar. Imperial entanglements are a big time-sink, and can lead to all sorts of headaches! Another is that your TAX FILINGS get a lot harder when you go that route. You think your 1040EZ is a pain in the ass now? Try a 1040 long form, with a Schedule C and a Schedule E, just to START! You'll soon find that you need an accountant, which costs more money, and then you might well be audited because you're a gun-related group and the Powers That Be don't like them (of course it'll be a low-level employee out of Cincinnati that instigates it), and THEN you'll want to table at gun shows and Pride events, which takes MORE money...and eventually you find that you haven't actually had a shoot in six months because you're too busy fundraising.

I've seen this happen to groups. It's not pretty.

I also believe that not getting into the whole "someone else's money" thing is the better choice. If you want to do something, if you aren't willing to dip into your own pouch to achieve it, should you really do it at all? What's nobler about spending other people's money to do it? I don't have a thing against passing the hat around the group to pay for something that benefits the group, but I don't like the idea of donations. We do not tax our members with dues for a reason. We want them to spend that money on training, guns, ammo, range time, and other important stuff.

And mostly, I think not taking other peoples' money keeps us humble. It keeps us focused on the mission statement rather than on the process of chasing money all the time.

I pay for the domains, and the hosting, and all sorts of other stuff I think I need to do what I do. If someone asks me how they can contribute, I tell them to take someone shooting. Teach someone. Most of the time, wanting to throw money at something is a way to absolve oneself from not doing enough actual, material things to help. It's the modern equivalent of buying an indulgence. It's hashtag activism. I'd rather that $20 or $50 gets spent on taking a new shooter to the range. The light of empowerment in their eyes when the first kick of recoil hits their hand, and they realize that THEY command that power is worth every penny, and accomplishes far, far more than paying for my domain fees or something.

The actual important things you need to do to start a chapter are in the Utility Manual. The other stuff just gets in the way and distracts from the mission.

Teach queers to shoot. Tell the world you've done it.

I run the San Jose, California Pink Pistols chapter since 2006.

I'll be happy to write or schedule time to consult with any of you who would like to get a chapter running. I am sure many others here who run chapters right now would do the same. So far the attitude of every chapter leader I have had the honor and pleasure to meet is we have each other's back.

I recently retired and once I can secure steady funding, my goal is to travel 2 to 3 weeks per month to help grow our groups in the South West(California, Arizona, Nevada). Once we are solid here, if the rest of the country still needs help, will step up.

Feel free to contact me.

I'd like to see a "local meetups" section of the forum dedicated to helping people find either local chapters or local individuals to go shooting with.  With over 8k members, I'm sure there are folks in my area, but I can't seem to find them.  Having a dedicated space to network would really help me find folks near me who could help me start up a chapter.

Gwendolyn Patton:
We already do have something like that. When a chapter starts, they must have some sort of web presence so people can find them. They tell me the chapter's URL, and I add it to the "find a local chapter" page on the website. If you're looking for shoots in your area, look for a chapter in your area, then go to their web presence to coordinate.

I'll think about creating a "chapter wanted here" board (I don't like that title, I'll try to figure out something better) so people who want to shoot together in, say, South Dakota, can say "hey, we're not far apart, let's go shooting together". Maybe they'll start a chapter if there's enough interest. I can see that people might just want to go shooting and doesn't necessarily want to start a chapter...maybe that's more work than they want to go to, or can't commit their time like that.

But we don't necessarily need a dedicated sub-board for that. They can say that on the General board, and if someone's in their area, they can respond. It can happen in any general-post area.

I'm not going to start creating sub-boards for every state, then every major metro area, then every small town or county...just so a couple of random people out in the boonies can filter down through it. If you want to shoot with someone and there isn't a chapter nearby, post in the general area and see if anyone's nearby who's interested.

Before the trolls screwed things up for everyone they could have posted it to the facebook page. But some people felt it was more important to call others names over who they were going to vote for, and other trollish crap. This is why we can't have nice things.

That's kinda what I was thinking.  If you need at least 2-3 people for a local chapter, having an effective tool to find and meet those people would help.  Sub-boards for every state or municipality would obviously be way overcomplicated, but a general "local meetups" sub-board would be searchable for keywords like "Utah" or "Salt Lake City" to find folks.

There's no local chapter in my area, and I'd be interested in starting one, but finding a way to meet another 2 or 3 Pink Pistols members in my area to start with would help.


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