Club Scene: Members Only
Many anime fans would love to join an anime club, but first they have to know it exists.
Whatís the most important thing in an anime club? A place to meet? Money to fund your activities? Anime to watch? All of that is important, but not as important as the club members. After all, if there's no one in your club but you, you might as well just watch anime at home. Part of the reason that I'm starting a club is so that I can meet other anime fans and introduce new fans to the medium. The anime club should give anime fans a chance to interact and get to know each other, and with more anime fans in the club, the more likely that this will happen.
Many universities require that you have a certain number of members to get official status and funding. To get members, you should have some kind of meeting where interested persons can find out all about your club. It doesn't have to be a 'real' meeting with anime showings or anything; just a place where anyone can drop by and talk with you. You may not even be able to hold an official meeting or reserve school space until you are a certified school club, so just slow down and take it one step at a time. Just concentrate on getting the word out for now.
There are a lot of ways to spread the news about your anime club, depending on how you want to do it. If you are a college student, you could talk to your local campus radio station about airing an announcement, or to the school paper about placing a classified ad. You could create some eye-catching posters and put them up around town. If you want to reach a larger audience, and you don't mind spending some money, you could place a notice in the classifieds of your local paper. If your city or school has an online web site and forum, you could start a thread there. Basically, do whatever you feel is necessary, but only do what you feel comfortable doing.
Which brings me to the hardest yet probably most effective way of telling people about your club: face-to-face. I don't mean evangelizing, but if you mention your anime club to friends and people, you know that there's a good chance that even if they aren't interested, they will know someone who will be. If those people know someone else and tell them, and then that person tells another anime fan, that would be... uh, a whole lot of people.
The face-to-face method works well enough one-on-one, but if you go to school or work, or anyplace where a large number of people gather, you have a forum right there to advertise your club. At my university, it's common for students to address the rest of the class with any upcoming events or activities that their club has planned. The student union makes their announcements there, and the whole thing has a very cool town-crier feel to it.
Now I usually consider myself a pretty extroverted person, but the thought of getting up in front of my entire first year class and asking people to join my anime club scares the hell out of me. I can think of a thousand things that can go wrong, all ending with the entire freshmen student body laughing at me. However, if I can reach even one or two anime fans, then it will be worth it. Besides, past announcements have included two guys dressed up for 'Talk Like a Pirate Day,' so it's not that formal. Still, if you don't relish the thought of getting up in front of the student body, you can always ask a more extroverted member of your club to make all future announcements, which admittedly is what Iíll probably end up doing.
So youíve managed to tell people far and wide about your club. Where will you offer information on your club? Plenty of public places will let you meet, such as a city park or a local cafť, as I wouldn't recommend inviting people over to your house until after you have met and gotten to know them.
I had my information meeting at my school's bar. I brought Pocky (I had promised free Pocky on the signs that I made up to promote the club) and my laptop, mainly to keep me busy in case no one showed up. Practically as soon as I had my sign with the club's name taped to the back of my computer, someone came over to talk about the club. I was ecstatic when other anime fans showed interest as well. What really made me happy was that pretty much everyone said that they'd been waiting for an anime club to form at the school for a long time. So far, the club is very small, but the people in it really love anime, and they want to share that feeling. Hopefully the club will grow as the year goes on, but for now I'm happy with this close-knit group of otaku.
Of course, my work isn't done yet. Now that I have members, itís time to get working on the paperwork for the student union, in order to get money and status as a school club. I can also start planning the actual anime club meetings. Finding a few more members wouldn't hurt either. An anime club is a continual process with many different things to consider, but having other people in your club to help you out makes everything a whole lot easier.