I'm involved with the Talbot County Historical Society here in Easton Maryland. I would like to hear some advice as to initiating a civil war round table in my area. I believe there are individuals of like interests as mine in this vicinity. The nearest cwrt's are in DC, Annapolis, Wilmington. Would appreciate any ideas.
Forming a Civil War Round Table is quite easy. To my knowledge there is no formal process. In other words a simple declaration on your part is all that is needed. I guess you have hereby created the Eastern Shore Civil War Round Table.
When I started as President of the Fort Worth Civil War Round Table in 1996 we had a small mailing list and meetings were attended by 15-20 people. Over the years we have built our list, added a website and promoted the meetings by e-mail. We now have 50-80 in attendance. We don't do any advertising. We have added almost all members by word of mouth.
The key, in my view, is having good programs. If you make it informative and interesting, they will come.
I don't think you need more than 5 to 10 dedicated people to start the ball rolling. Go to it. If you need help on the way, I would be glad to supply more information on what we do.
Doc, Ashbel gives good advice. I was not around when the round table I am program chairman of was formed. I have heard that they started meeting at the local library and invited locals to speak to the group. We now meet a a Carrows coffee shop. They give us the backroom for nothing once a month. Since most people eat dinner that pays for the room.
I have built up a list of speakers from various places, Members of the group, members of other round tables and people other people recommend. We do not pay for speakers as our treasury doesn't allow for that. We buy the speaker dinner and sometimes if they come from a distance provide gas money.
We usually have 30 -40 people which fills the back room. We have a book raffle every other month to raise money for presveration. The books come from members who donate them. Pure profit.
One thing we do to get new members in is attend the local reenactments . We set up a booth and pas out flyers with information on the round table and what our upcoming programs are going to be.
This is how I found the round table in the first place. I went to the local Huntington Beach reenactment and there they were . I joined on the spot. We also had cards made up that list the name, when and where we meet on them. The members have these to pass out to friends and relatives or strangers. I keep some in my purse and have past many of them out to people I talk to . One of our members gave one to a young man at jury duty. He showed up and brought two friends this past month.
Good luck. Hope it works for you. I look forward to going to ours each month.
If you get into the raffles like Susan is talking about or giving book prizes you may have to incorporate in your state as a non-profit organization, which then requires you to file Federal Income Tax statements (but not pay any tax), check the local laws to be sure.
Technically David is correct. However, most CWRT's do not generate enough income to warrant setting up a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation. The only time this might be an issue is if you have a big donor that wants to use their donation as a tax deduction.
My advice is keep it simple. Focus on making it fun and enjoyable. The rest will fall into place.
Thanks everyone for their input. Since I'm involved with the local county historical society I was contemplating doing something in conjunction with the society. As an aside, I was able to visit Wye House here and took photos of Franklin Buchanans and Tilghmans graves. If anyone would like to view them just contact me at my email address.