There are five basic steps in starting a new Torch club. They are:
1. Identify the site
2. Identify an organizer who is well-known among local professionals
3. Identify prospective members
4. Contact prospective members
5. Hold a series of organizing meetings.
This guide offers recommendations on these five steps.
STEP 1: IDENTIFYING THE SITE
Experience shows that certain demographic features should be considered when analyzing a community (or a group of communities) as a potential site for a Torch club. These factors are:
A. Population: The ideal site for a Torch club is a community which has a population of 25,000 to 300,000. It is unlikely that a community with fewer than 25,000 will have sufficient professionals to support a Torch club. Torch does not recommend that a community with a population greater than 300,000 be considered only because it is difficult to overcome the problems of securing a central meeting place, establishing recognition of the club in the community and developing a cohesive membership base. However, if you have no other choice than a community with greater than 300,000, concentrate the club in a cohesive, recognizable section of the larger community.
B. A college community: Members of college faculties are strong participants in Torch clubs. Therefore, the site for a Torch club should have a significant number of college faculty members residing in the community. However, faculty members should not constitute more than 50% of the members of any Torch club. Remember, Torch depends upon a mix between “town” and “gown” for its vitality and effectiveness.
C. Proximity to an existing club: It is helpful if a potential site is near enough (less than 60 miles) to an existing Torch club so that the established club can support and assist the new club through its development period.
D. Former Torch members: In starting a new club, try to select a site that is home to one or more former Torch members. Former members usually are interested in rejoining Torch and assisting in organizing the new club. Names and locations of former members are available through the Association’s central office.
STEP 2: IDENTIFYING AN ORGANIZER
It is essential to recruit a committed local professional who is well known in the community and who can persuade others to form a core of members from which to start the new club.
There are funds available from Torch International to cover reasonable expenses when starting a club.
STEP 3: IDENTIFYING PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS
After selecting the site for a new club and recruiting an organizer, your next step is to identify prospective members. Sources for prospective members are:
A. Professionals in the local community who are members in good standing of a recognized profession; have a degree from an accredited school or an acceptable equivalent in training and experience; pursue (or are retired from) work that requires a mastery of some area of knowledge and skills; exercise judgment and assumption of individual responsibility; evidence an obligation of service to others; join with his or her vocational group in maintaining standards of competence and integrity in professional service.
B. Active Torch clubs near the site: It is best to contact the clubs’ secretaries and request that they solicit recommendations from their members for prospective members at the new site. This solicitation should request information concerning the prospective member’s name, address and professional position including whether active or retired. Also included should be the name of the person making the recommendation.
C. The Association’s central office: Information is available on former members now living at the site and records are kept on prior Torch activity at the site.
STEP 4: CONTACTING PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS
It is necessary to do some planning before contacting any prospective members. This includes compiling a list of prospective members according to age, profession and gender. Remember, the goal in developing a Torch club is to bring together a diverse group. Therefore, even at this early stage, give priority to contacting persons who represent a diversity of backgrounds.
Three questions arise when it is time to contact prospective members. They are:
A. Who should make the contact?
The first step is to ask the person who recommended the prospect to get in touch with him or her about Torch. This “opens the door.” That person should indicate to the prospect that a representative of Torch will call in a few days.
The second step is for the organizer and, if possible, a member of a nearby club, to contact the prospect.
B. How should the follow-up contact be made?
Contacts made in person are the most effective. Although contacts can also be made by phone calls or letters, these are usually less effective.
C. What is the goal of the contact?
The goal of the initial series of contacts is to identify a minimum of five prospects who are interested in attending a “get acquainted” meeting. Plan this meeting for a convenient time and place.
To stimulate a prospect’s interest in Torch, the organizer should give the prospect a copy of the“Torch Is…” brochure and, possibly, a copy of The Torch magazine, explain the philosophy and background of Torch and “testify” to the intellectual benefits and pleasures of Torch.
Make your first contact brief and end it with an invitation to attend the “get acquainted” meeting.
STEP 5: HOLDING A SERIES OF ORGANIZING MEETINGS
The best method for organizing a new Torch club is to hold a series of meetings.
The First Meeting:
This meeting is a “get acquainted” session to familiarize the attendees with Torch. Have a minimum of five prospects in attendance at this meeting. The cost should be paid by the Association or a nearby, active Torch club.
The agenda for this first meeting should include:
a. Self-introduction by the hosts and attendees
b. An explanation of Torch
c. An explanation of the purpose of this meeting
d. A question and answer period
e. An evaluation by the prospects of the potential of the community to support a Torch Club.
f. A commitment from the prospects to support the formation of a club.
If the prospects express an active interest in the formation of a new club, the hosts should move to:
g. Schedule the next meeting
h. Select someone who will be responsible for assisting the hosts with the arrangements
i. Request that prospective members participate in recruiting additional prospects.
The Second Meeting:
Make this gathering a “model” Torch club meeting with a “Dutch Treat” dinner and a paper. The goal should be 100% growth in attendance. Have at least two representatives of Torch International or nearby clubs in attendance. The agenda should include:
a. Fellowship time (cash basis)
b. Brief welcome by the hosts
c. Self-introduction by hosts and attendees
e. Presentation of the paper (preferably this should be presented by an outstanding speaker from a nearby Torch club)
f. Discussion of the paper
g. Discussion of Torch and the formation of a new club
h. Solicit a commitment by the attendees to the formation of the new club
i. Schedule the next meeting
j. Request participants to recruit additional charter members.
The Third Meeting:
The primary goal of this meeting is to have a minimum of 20 persons in attendance who will commit themselves to membership (a minimum of 20 paid members is necessary before a charter can be granted).
This meeting should follow the same format and basic agenda as the second meeting. Additions to the agenda should include:
a. Having each person complete the “Application for Membership” form and pay the initiation fee
b. Scheduling the Chartering Banquet
c. Electing officers (President, Secretary and Treasurer) who have the authority to prepare and submit a Constitution and Bylaws at the Chartering Banquet.
The Chartering Banquet:
Invitations to the Chartering Banquet should be extended to the new club members, officers of nearby clubs, the Regional Director and other persons instrumental in the organizing process.
The agenda should include:
a. Fellowship time
b. Brief welcome by the club president
c. Introduction of all guests
e. Presentation of the Charter by the Regional Director
f. Adoption of the Constitution and Bylaws
g. Announcement of the next meeting.