Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Steps - Getting Your Club Online

Many clubs have not gone online because they do not have anyone who is willing to undertake the project to create a website, a blog or some other online presence.  That may have been true a few years ago, but "Web 2.0" is upon us.

Now, anyone with basic computer skills can create an put their club or business online using available free online services. The first question is "How do we get started".


Before you can launch into building an online presence, it is important to engage the club members into a discussion to determine what kind of online presence is needed.

Most service clubs exist to deliver service to their communities for a specific purpose.  Optimist clubs, for example, focus on running community service projects focused on local youth, raise funds to sponsor local youth activities and programs and recruit members to run those projects and raise funds.  So when looking at online presence, ask a few questions.  Does your club want their online presence to (and possible matching online services):
  • explain who you are and what you do? (website, blog, facebook)
  • help point out the community service projects you perform? (website, blog, facebook)
  • help recruit new members? (blog, facebook, twitter)
  • demonstrate how active you are in our local community? (blog, facebook)
  • explain what kind of help your club needs? (website, blog, facebook)
  • allow your members to share in fellowship? (facebook)
  • allow your members to share their volunteer experiences? (blog, facebook, twitter)
  • allow the community you support to comment on your club's activities? (blog, facebook, twitter)
  • allow your members to communicate in a secure community to plan projects? (facebook, secure member portals)
Keeping in mind that service clubs are volunteer organizations, creating and maintaining an online presence will be done by a volunteer.  Whatever presence is created and whatever online services are used, it should focus on the following traits:
  1. It must have value to the service club.  If not, members will not participate or use it.
  2. It must be easy to use so that anyone with average computer skills will be able to manage it.
  3. It should not be excessively time consuming.
  4. It must be no-cost or low-cost.
  5. It should allow and encourage member participation by being engaging and fun.
  6. It should be easy to transfer administrator rights to different club members.
  7. It should use most popular and most recognizable services which will put your club in front of more of the public eye (your target audience).


There are hundreds of available of online services.  The trick is to select those services that can be easily combined into a cohesive combination of services that will take the minimum of time to create and maintain.  It is important to remain focused and to select those services that will work best to build an online presence.

As a guideline, you will probably want to focus on creating an online presence with those services that are easiest to create and configure, and ones that most of the club membership will use.  We suggest the following strategy:
  1. Create a generic email account to use when registering accounts with online services.
  2. Create a Facebook page.
  3. Create an online secure portal for club members.
  4. Create a blog/website.
After creating this basic online presence, you can extend it to using other services that may be of specific use for defined needs.


We will continue this discussion with a series of articles exploring each of these first steps:
  • First Steps - Create a Generic Email Account
  • First Steps - Create a Facebook Page (coming soon)
  • First Steps - Create an online Secure Portal with TeamLab (coming soon)
  • First Steps - Create a Blog/Website with Blogger (coming soon)

Our Thanks must go to jscreationzs and Ambro / FreeDigitalPictures.net for the free use of the artwork and digital photo in this article.


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