Exploring NYC History and Neighborhoods Message Board › Greeting to All Members - We are Now at 800!

Greeting to All Members - We are Now at 800!

Hank O.
user 79290392
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Hi All,
Our group is 5 months old and we now have 800 members!  Since April we have had 40 meetups in 30 different neighborhoods and it has been a great pleasure strolling and socializing with you!  Thank you to all who have joined! You are an awesome group of people!
For newer members who have yet to attend one of our meetups I plan to repeat a number of the meetups this September and into the Fall to give you a better chance of participating.  Since our neighborhood walks are narrated by me it is simply not practical to have more than 35-40 people at one time.
I welcome suggestions for neighborhoods to explore or even thematic walks and exploration -- please do not schedule these as meetups - simply send me an email and/or or post a message.
Our meetups thus far have tended to be walks that last 2-3 hours and I plan to offer some shorter walks - perhaps ending at an interesting museum or event where people can enjoy an optional visit. One we get into the colder weather this will be more the norm -- with longer walks resuming once next Spring emerges.
The waiting list works automatically so I continue to emphasize that it is very important for people who do sign up to remember to change your RSVP status once you know you can no longer attend.  Some members have suggested that I charge a nominal fee in part to cut down on NO-SHOWS, or to ask for a voluntary contribution.  I do spend time and money planning and providing handouts for nearly all of our meetups (although this is largely a labor of love).  I am still mulling this over and will likely wait until the end of September to make a decision about this.
After the meetup please take the time post your photos - everyone appreciates this and they help us all remember the experience. Comments and feedback is always appreciated

Thanks again - and enjoy the holiday weekend!
Warm regards,
Hank
________________________
Hank Orenstein
Licensed NYC Sightseeing Guide/Director, Hank's New York Tours
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Rubicon Property
451 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024
www.hanksnewyork.com       www.rubiconNYC.com
646-596-3005     hank@rubiconNYC.com
Joey
user 5090214
New York, NY
Post #: 4
Hank, let your labor of love be the labor. Making a small contribution to pay for the Meetup page, xerox copies and organizing expenses is more than fair for the benefit that members receive. And canceling an RSVP instead of thoughtlessly blowing it off is good manners. Thanks for leading.
A former member
Post #: 8
Hank, let your labor of love be the labor. Making a small contribution to pay for the Meetup page, xerox copies and organizing expenses is more than fair for the benefit that members receive. And canceling an RSVP instead of thoughtlessly blowing it off is good manners. Thanks for leading.

I agree -- more than fair!
Paulette
paulettemarie
New York, NY
Post #: 2
It's fine to talk abstractly about fees and contributions, which I'm sure most would agree are justified, but at some point we have to get to specifics. A number of other groups (both larger and smaller) I'm a member of charge one-time OR yearly "membership" fees. These range from $3 to $10 and are generally payable through PayPal (though a significant number of people are not comfortable paying that way, so a group using that service risks losing members). Hank can decide on how he wants to collect these fees but assuming everyone contributes - which would have to be monitored - based on the groups current size of 845 members, a $3 fee would provide $2,535.00 and a $10 fee $8,450.00 to cover copying and page maintenance and related costs.

I don't think any of us can calculate the time and effort it takes Hank to research and organize each event - and I'm not even sure he can - so I can't see any way we can fairly compensate him for this, other than referring clients to him for real estate transactions - as some members of the group have already done - and/or endorsing him on his tour guide Website, should he want and offer us access to.

A "membership fee" won't, however - based on my conversations with other organizers - significantly reduce the number of "no shows" at events, which is a problem for most groups. What does seem to have some impact is to charge a fee PER EVENT payable IN ADVANCE, but none of the groups I'm in that do so charge more than $1 per event, if they have multiple events per month, or $2 if their meet-ups are infrequent. Some have TRIED charging more - sometimes substantially more - from $5 to $15 PER EVENT - but these are usually DINNER, CLUB or SOCIAL events not walks or meet-ups at museums - and it has been my experience that as fees increase attendance at events and group membership decreases. Given that many of our members have limited expendable income I am certain this would happen here.

My suggestion to Hank is to charge either a one-time "member fee" or a $1 per meet-up fee (not both) and accept the fact that collection of fees always involves some degree of bookkeeping and babysitting (ie tracking down those members of the group who are negligent about paying their dues) and may even have tax ramifications (though only a tax professional can determine this) - and that it remains to be seen whether any of this will deter people from signing up but not showing up to events.

There is another possibility that can be considered either in conjunction with or in place of charging fees and that is penalizing "no showers", which is a tactic that one of the groups I'm in has adopted. They state their ATTENDANCE POLICY on their landing (opening) page; it specifies that any member who signs up for but does not attend an event is "marked" a "No-show" and that 3 "No shows" will result in that member being permanently banned from the group. This sounds a bit harsh, as far as I'm concerned, and probably deters some people from joining the group, but the groups organizers just look at it as being discerning and necessary; in any case, this approach requires the group organizer to take "ATTENDANCE" at each meet-up, monitor all "no-shows" and apply applicable penalties to offending individuals - i.e., more administrative work that Hank may or may not want to take on.

There is no "wash and wear" policy to managing a group, it all takes work and effort, and only the individual (or individuals) organizing the group can determine what is feasible for them. However, a satisfied organizer and a disgruntled membership - or vice versa - will not work, so whatever policy or policies are adopted must be fair to, and respectful of, both.
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