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Give Club Officers, and Members, a Leg Up
Everyone Thrives on a Bit of Recognition — and Maybe a Prize
In the holiday film classic “A Christmas Story,” Ralphie Parker’s father enters a sweepstakes and is the winner of a “Major Award.” The Old Man’s pride at being selected for such a prestigious recognition isn’t diminished whatsoever by the contents of the crate marked “Fragile” that arrives at the Parker home. Carefully pawing through the excelsior-filled box, the Old Man gently lifts out a floor lamp shaped like a woman’s leg wearing a fishnet stocking, more suitable for a poolroom than a living room.
That the lamp is doomed is a certain prospect. But the pride felt by Ralphie’s father is undeniable. After all, it’s human instinct to want to be acknowledged and recognized for our accomplishments — slim as they may sometimes be.
Most investment clubs could stand to incorporate some rituals of self-celebration now and again, as well as to recognize those within their ranks who go the extra mile on the club’s behalf.
For instance, why not create some small acknowledgement for outgoing officers after they’ve served their terms?
The jobs of club treasurer, president, secretary (and the rest) all have their challenges and time commitments, and although it’s true that every member of your club should likely serve as an officer at one point or another, it’s still nice to say thank you to these folks regularly.
At the club’s annual meeting at which elections are held, give thanks to the outgoing officers with a token “Major Award” of your own choosing.
It could be an offering of homemade baked goods prepared by your club’s best baker, a small novelty gift crafted by the club’s funniest joker or a humorously worded certificate of achievement.
Another idea is to create a ritualized “passing the gavel” ceremony in which the incoming and outgoing officers officially hand over the reins. Use funny hats if you wish!
The point is to ensure that your officers feel the club’s gratitude, so put your imagination to work and come up with lighthearted ways to pay tribute. But it’s not just the officers of your club who deserve gratitude — everyone in your club should have a role in celebrating its success.
Milestones, like the club’s first, second, third, fifth and 10th years, are all occasions to mark with mutual pride.
Many investment clubs have an “annual meeting,” a potluck meal held in a member’s home or a more formal occasion at a favorite local restaurant. Minimal investing business may occur at these meetings, but that’s OK. This is the time for the club members to relax and look back on another year of successful investing.
Note that “successful investing” isn’t always gauged by the size or performance of your portfolio, particularly for clubs under five years of age.
It can take time for the market to recognize the value of your stock picks and for the portfolio to start demonstrating results, so don’t get hung up on the numbers.
Think about the money you and your fellow members are setting aside each month and the growth of the club’s assets. Also reflect on the great potential of the coming five years from the terrific starting platform you’ve built and the education that you’ve gained.
The summer is an excellent time to host a backyard club meeting-slash-barbecue during which members can show off their potato salad, favorite chili recipes or grilling skills along with their top stock picks. The fellowship that investment clubs offer is a compelling aspect of the club experience, so a summer social event is a perfect way to enhance friendships. Inviting family and friends to this kind of outing can be a great introduction to the social side of investment clubs as well.
On a more technical note, the costs of food and gifts are probably not acceptable as legitimate investing expenses in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service. As a result, treasurers should be careful to record these as noninvesting expenses in the club’s books or keep these costs off the books entirely.
You can rarely say thank you too many times. Incorporating the acknowledgement of the contributions of all partners to the investment club is a great way to make the club more enjoyable.
Douglas is ICLUBcentral's product manager, helping develop the company's programs including Toolkit 6, myICLUB.com, and the Investor Advisory Service. He is also the author of several investing books, including The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Direct Stock Investing, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Investing, The Armchair Millionaire, and Investment Clubs for Dummies.