Can’t find a chapter in your area? Have a group of friends interested in Hatting?
While it is great to be part of an existing chapter, so that you are part of a group that already has its own traditions and have a ready-made group of new friends. Sometimes it can be beneficial to start your own chapter.
Some ladies have asked how one goes about starting a chapter, we hope this page can give you the information you need to become a Queen :)
The leader of a chapter is called a “Queen”, and Queens are welcome to be members in other chapters as well as being the Queen of their own chapter. Different chapters do things differently, have different types of outings and meet on different days, so sometimes being part of more than one chapter can allow you more opportunities to get out and have some fun!
So what exactly is involved with starting (and maintaining) a chapter?
- Any Chapters in your area? – First you may like to check if there is already a chapter around your local area. While most Queens should have no issue with a new Queen starting a chapter in the same location, it may be polite to contact them first to see if they mind. You can look in the Chapter listing here. You can also check the chapter listing on the Red Hat Society site (http://www.redhatsociety.com).
- Naming your Chapter – You will need to think of a name for your chapter. It is a good idea to make it unique and not too similar to an existing chapter, especially in the same state – so check the Chapter listing here to make sure you aren’t using a name that is already in use. You can also use the Chapter Search section of the RHS website (http://www.redhatsociety.com) to see a listing of all the registered chapters, that might help you come up with a name (and check to see if a name is already used). You might want to name it something that has special meaning to you, or that represents you or what you plan to be doing as a chapter.
- Queen Membership – You should go to the RHS website (http://www.redhatsociety.com/membership/queen) and purchase a Queen membership to make your chapter an official chapter of the Red Hat Society. If you are already a supporting member, you can find the option to upgrade to Queen membership in your Account section. This Queen membership will register your chapter as an official Red Hat Society chapter, and you will receive a special Queen pin and certificate (among other things).
- Adding Members – Your chapter will need members! So talk to your friends, get them to talk to their friends, and build your chapter that way. You could also put up notices in public places to gain new members, and don’t forget to e-mail us so we can add your chapter details to this site to help people find you.
Be a little cautious with your advertising – it may be best to give out only an e-mail address or mobile phone number, until you know the person is genuinely interested in joining the chapter. You may like to arrange to meet up at a local cafe or other public place first before you invite them to your next outing.
- Capping members – While you can have as many members in your chapter as you like, many chapters have a cut-off at about 20-30 members, as they find that more than this can make organising events difficult, can cause “cliques” within the group, and can have troubles bonding as well as a smaller group can. If you decide on a number of members you will have, you may want to work out your policy for handling ladies who would like to join once you are closed. Some groups have a waiting list, and will remove inactive members to allow new people in.
- Chapter Guidelines – You may like to think about what sort of guidelines/policies or traditions you might like to have in your chapter. While the RHS prides itself on being rule-free (mostly), having some guidelines in place can help keep the chapter running smoothly, and lets everyone know what the expectations are. Sometimes these may be decided upon as a group, but you may have an idea of how you would like your chapter to run. Think about things like whether you require members to wear their colours, will you require a particular level of attendance, can members bring a friend along, what your policies will be regarding any bookings or pre-payment for anything. If you have particular guidelines for your chapter, you may like to provide new members with a little handbook outlining these, or start up a website, facebook page or “blog” where that information can be added.
- Gatherings – Where, When and What – While things can change, have an idea of where you would like to have your gatherings, and when. Would you like them at your home, rotating members homes, in a local cafe or restaurant? Will it be casual? Will your chapter be focused on having large lavish parties? Will you have a big ceremony welcoming new member in? and so on. Make a list of some activities you may like to do. Visit the museum, go on a picnic, go bowling, have a craft day – whatever you like. Also think of what frequency you’ll be meeting, and whether it will be mostly weekends or week days. Some chapters meet once a week, some once a month – and anything in between.
- Participation – Not all members may be able to attend every get-together you have, either for financial or time reasons. However you may like to make sure your members are active enough for you to consider them still a part of your chapter, especially if your chapter has reached capacity.
- Delegation – You should also make sure that you are not the only one running your chapter. The role of the Queen is to be the founding member of the chapter, and to act as the head of the group – but the RHS guidelines specifically say that the Queen is NOT expected to solely run the chapter, and delegating roles is highly encouraged. Often chapters will have a “Vice Queen”, who assists the Queen, but there are also various other roles that members can take. Organising events should not fall solely on the Queen, each member should be encouraged to suggest ideas and even organise events and
- Insurance – Insurance is always a hotly debated topic, but you should be aware of the issue so you can make a decision about what to do for your chapter. See the extra topic on Public Liability Insurance
- Dues – Some chapters use yearly dues to pay for the cost of registering the chapter and paying for insurance and other running expenses. Some chapters have smaller running costs and may ask for money only when the need arises. If you are going to charge a fee, you should make sure the members know what the money is paying for.
Remember that individuals are only members of the RHS if they have paid their yearly membership to the RHS itself. Paying a fee or chapter dues to a Chapter, does not automatically make you an official RHS member. If you are an official “supporting” member of the RHS you will be issued with a RHS membership card.