Here are steps that Torch club members can use to help a new club become organized:
Membership Applications When 15 or more people agree to join a new club, they each fill out a Torch membership application and pay a small one-time initiation fee to IATC for a new member kit and pin. Application forms are to be sent to IATC with copies kept for the club’s records. The kits can be pre-ordered. All correspondence can go to James Coppinger, Executive Secretary at
2917 Duchess Drive Kalamazoo, MI 49008 Phone (269) 312-8026
Organizing Dinner The first new club dinner will be a prototype of a regular Torch evening, with social hour, dinner, paper presentation and discussion, with some added events. Officers need to be elected, if not already done, and plans for club bylaws made. Torch has model bylaws that can be customized. The monthly dinner location can be decided, if not already done, with room for future club expansion kept in mind. The sponsoring Torch club can provide a paper presenter or a new club member could volunteer.
Officer Election Club officers will be president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and membership chair. After the first year, officers will include the immediate past president. These officers are often designated the executive committee, which will have regular meetings to discuss and decide club business. The IATC office has a sheet which outlines the administrative assignments of club officers. Often, the vice president is in charge of lining up a year’s schedule of presenters. A member can hold more than one office, such as combining secretary and treasurer.
Bylaws Before being chartered, a new club must adopt a set of bylaws. IATC has a model for that, a “fill-in-the-blanks” document, or new clubs can borrow from their sponsoring club bylaws. Torch is a federation, in that local clubs have a great deal of independence for programs, membership, club fees and dinners and other matters. Some clubs have membership limits, necessitating waiting periods of new members, and vote on accepting new members; others don’t. Once bylaws are adopted, a copy must be sent to the IATC office.
Regional Directors Each Torch club is assigned to one of ten regions which are led by a regional director, who has a travel budget to visit all the clubs in his or her region. They often help in starting new clubs and can be relied upon for assistance in administrative needs of local clubs.
Charter Dinner Once officers are elected and bylaws are adopted, the club will have a charter dinner, with the help of the sponsoring club and/or regional director. A top IATC officer, president or vice president, will attend to present the charter and give a talk about their experiences and expectations of Torch and the local clubs.
Dues IATC has a one-time initiation fee and annual dues of $50 per member, with two exceptions. Young professionals under 30-years-old pay only half the annual dues ($25), as does the second member of a household. Dues are billed each January. Club treasurers can collect the annual dues from members on a monthly basis or all at one time, depending upon their club policy. Any extra club dues and dinner costs are done at the discretion of the local club. Most often, clubs collect dinner costs on an annual or semi-annual basis without refunding for absent members, building up a small treasury.
Reports IATC has a sophisticated data collection system that makes it easy for club treasurers and secretaries to report membership changes, such as resignations, additional members and address changes. Annual dues for IATC are calculated on the number of members, so an accurate count is important. Secretaries are also asked to submit a short monthly electronic report about their meetings, presentations and attendance.
Recruitment After a new club is chartered, most additional new members come from being invited to a dinner and signing up if interested. If a club wishes to hold a special event to gain new members, funds are available from IATC for each new member recruited. Clubs should check with their regional director and the IATC office for details. Most often, clubs develop a small treasury to pay for prospective member dinners.
Annual Conference The Torch annual conference, open to all clubs and members, is held in June, hosted by a club. The IATC president and vice president are elected there, bylaws and new policies are debated and voted upon, reports are made from each Torch division, papers are presented including the Paxton Award winner for the year’s best paper and tours are hosted.
Each Torch club can have two voting delegates and two alternate delegates for the conference. IATC provides a subsidy of $300 to each club sending delegates, to help defray their expenses. Often clubs will match that, in whole or in part, for their delegates.
The Torch Magazine The magazine is published three times a year and sent to each Torch member. It contains several of the best papers presented in local clubs, as determined by an editorial board of 15 members. All presenters are urged to submit their papers, with notes and bibliography, for publication. There is a Paxton Award honorarium for the year’s best paper.
Torch Foundation Clubs and individual members may make tax-deductible donations to the Torch Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization. The Foundation has officers and five trustees who invest the funds and award grants to members, local clubs or IATC for Torch programs.
Torch Website Each club is urged to develop a website which can have a link from the Torch website, and to engage in social media outlets to advertise the club and its activities. Help is available from IATC for this.
Torch Newsletters Regular electronic newsletters are sent to club members and officers, including the Torchlight presidential newsletter, a membership newsletter and a Torch Leader newsletter for officers.
Torch Tours Travel tours for Torch members are available each year through Roads Scholar, and have been enjoyed to Cuba and Costa Rica so far. See The Torch Magazine.
Submitted by Francis Moul, Torch Membership Director, January, 2017
Francis Moul is a member of the Tom Carroll Lincoln Torch Club since 1989 and is currently Torch Membership Director. He has a PhD degree in environmental history from the University of Nebraska, was a Fulbright Scholar to India in 1966, has been in journalism much of his life as reporter, editor, editorial writer and publisher and taught college political science at Wayne State College, Nebraska.