Most old car clubs are suffering these days. Some say it’s due to the “graying” of the hobby and young people not liking cars. I don’t know if that’s 100 percent true, but I do know that people in general aren’t “joiners” anymore. Whether it’s a snowmobile event I help out with or a motorcycle organization I belong to, it’s hard to get all but a few helpers or members involved. Everyone is so busy these days and no one wants to do anything unless they’re getting paid for it. It’s true across the country, isn’t it?
So, I have been tracking the membership numbers for a few car clubs I belong to and they keep dropping. Clubs that used to have 14,000 members are down to 8,000 members. I’m surprised how many clubs put out beautiful glossy magazines every month or two and have only 2,500 members. After my years of being in the publishing business, I don’t know how they do that.
And what do the clubs do when their numbers start dropping? Most of the time they cut back on benefits. They cut the number of pages in the newsletter or they stop sending the newsletter to new members. They raise the amount of the dues (which are high enough already). They put paid advertising in the newsletter, instead of stories the members want to read. And all of these cuts tend to lower the membership numbers even more because the club members get less for the higher dues.
What I think is that every professional magazine in the hobby should start listing clubs when they do an article about a certain car. If it’s a Buick, they should list the Buick clubs. You get the idea. Hobby businesses should also help the clubs. Put a list of clubs in your parts catalog. Give the clubs links on your website. Car show promoters should give free vending spaces to clubs (many do) and let them sign up new members at events.
On the other side of the coin, the clubs should help the professionals. If the club magazine carries an article about a convertible, use a little bit of extra ink to list websites of vendors selling stuff for convertibles.
We are all in this hobby together. Instead of complaining about how the hobby is shrinking, we should all be helping each other to make the hobby grow. And most of all, remember that this is a hobby. Everything we do doesn’t have to have $$$$ attached to it. One British car club I belong to uses the phrase “Members Helping Members.”
In the hobby at large, let’s translate that into “Hobbyists Helping Hobbyists.”