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Once you have selected a breed club or association you have several options as to how much or how little you want to be active and participate within the organization. Since breed clubs and associations are typically run on a volunteer basis, chipping in with a bit of time and perhaps some special talent or skill that you have can really make the difference between a good organization and a fantastic one.
If you are interested in taking a more passive role in the club you can just pay your dues and go to a meeting or two, perhaps show up at an event spend one afternoon a month working at a breed rescue or some other charity in your community as a representative of the club. This, although only a small investment of time and energy, is still much appreciated by the club, but it is usually not all that the organization really needs from its members.
People that want to be a bit more active may be regulars to breed club functions, may be involved in showing or competing in club sponsored events or may even work at some of the events. In addition these individuals may also offer their home as a foster home for dogs from the rescue or they may work regular shifts at the rescue to help find loving homes for abandoned, neglected or surrendered dogs.
The way to really get involved in your breed club is to take the opportunity to sit on the board of directors. Since almost all breed clubs in the United States are non-profit organizations, they are run by a board or committee rather than by a single person. Some of the large breed clubs, especially those that have their own rescue or shelter attached to the functions of the club may have paid staff or regular volunteers that make day to day decisions, but the board sets goals, develops protocols and plans for the club's activities throughout the year.
Most organizations have a fairly large board of directors and they are always looking for new people to get active. A typical board comprises of several different positions that allows members to pick committees or areas of their own interest or expertise. Most boards are elected to serve a specific term, either one, two or more years, and are voted in at a yearly general meeting. The membership votes for its own board and anyone that is an active member can put their name forward for a position on the board.
The most common structure for a rotating board of directors will include a president, a past president, a president elect, treasurer, secretary and several members at large. The president is the leader of the Board and runs the meetings. The president is usually also the contact person for the national breed club or contacts with other dog registries, Kennel Clubs or international breed organizations. The past president stays on the board for one term after his or her term is completed to provide continuity in planning as well as to provide support to the current president. The president elect can be thought of as the new "president in training".
The secretary is usually responsible for taking notes and ensuring all communication between the board and outside agencies or individuals is completed. They are also the record keepers of the board's decisions and may be required to distribute the minutes of all board meetings to the members of the breed club.
The treasurer looks after the money, including paying bills, overseeing investments and typically for renewing memberships and taking the payments for new members. The members at large represent the membership and carry information from members to the board and vice versa including what members want and where interest is building in the organization.
While this is the basic structure of the board, there are usually a huge number of committees that report to the board. Typically committees are formed by board members in conjunction with members at large and general members. These committees may look at areas such as public education about the breed, rescue or shelter advertising and promotion of adoptions, good dog care and responsible ownership education, publicity, hosting shows or events or even in setting up and maintaining a website.
Of course all members of the board will also be members of the club and will have a true interest in promoting their breed of dog and ensuring only the highest health, breeding and training standards for their members. This unique unifying theme of the dog breed keeps the board working for the membership and the promotion of the very dogs that you are interested in.
If serving on the board seems a little overwhelming you might want to consider volunteering for one of the subcommittees that the board organizes. Maybe you have a knack for writing, developing websites or public speaking. By going to the board or committee chairperson you can let them know what your special skills are and how they could benefit the breed club. Even volunteering to man a booth about the breed at a local fair or dog show, offering to go to schools and talk about the breed or writing a blog about your breed club or breed can be much appreciated. Some people may even have a facility they would like to donate to host a charity event to raise money for the breed club or to host a dog show or competition. You really never know what the board may be interested in or requiring unless you get active and attend the meetings.
The more people that get involved and active in any type of organizational leadership the more options are generated for expanding the club, increasing awareness and understanding of your breed as well as providing ongoing support to the members. Since most volunteer organizations are always looking for ideas that are unique and creative as well as the people to carry them out getting involved really is a great opportunity.
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