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We understand that a number of our groups are faced with declining memberships. In this issue there are some ideas from a Roundtable at Southwest on page 4, I relate a suggestion we found worked back in the 90s, to begin publishing a tabloid newspaper (supported with advertising revenue) and distributing it all over town (page 8), and Linda Moore explains on page 31 how NTPCUG was able to grow by starting SIGs for developers, IT Professionals, and small business owners. A User Group can continue to offer its standard support to end users, and still offer something to these professional Special Interest Groups, and you never can tell when you might want to look to those professional SIGs for some volunteers to do things for the main group.
We held our 9th annual Jerry Awards Contest, and you can see all of the groups that participated in all 9 years at http://comservice.apcug.org/jerry.htm. For 2004 you can see all of the entries (not just the winners) at http://comservice.apcug.org/2004/index.htm. In 2005 all of the entries are at http://comservice.apcug.org/2005/index.htm, and the winners are at http://comservice.apcug.org/05jerries.htm, and for 2006, all of the entries are at http://comservice.apcug.org/2006/index.htm (the winners are at http://www.apcug.net/community_service/jerry2006/jerrys2006winners.html).
Beginning in 2004 we retained all of the entries, because we felt that a group planning on doing a project may have something to learn by studying what all other groups are doing. The problem is that the way we have been collecting files and presenting them to the judges, there is just a list of files, and there is no way for a group to show what order they should be viewed in, what they feel is most important, etc. This makes the judges job harder, and it also makes it harder for a group planning on doing a similar project to follow things.
For the 2007 competition I want to make some changes. I will be illustrating what I would like to see by referring to what the Tulsa Computer Society's HelpingTulsa project does. To avoid any conflict of interest, I will state here and now that TCS will NOT be entering the contest in 2007. I will also extend the following offer to all winners this year: "If you are willing to forgo entering the competition for 2007, I will invite you to provide a representative who will serve on the Community Service Committee, helping to plan the 2007 competition, and possibly serving as a judge for that competition. If you are not willing to forgo entering the 2007 competition, we will still be happy to receive any written recommendations you have for how the competition should be organized, and they will be considered by the committee."
The main thing I want to change this year is that I want to urge all projects to prepare a website describing exactly what their project does, with all of the How To information on it. We do that for Helping Tulsa. http://helpingtulsa.org/ is basically What We Do, and http://helpingtulsa.org/howto/ describes the HelpingTulsa Computer Refurbishing Procedures. There are several reasons why we find it helpful to maintain these procedures online. One is for the Jerry Award Competition, of course, but even more important is that all of our volunteers, some of whom do their refurbishing work at home, can just refer to the website to see how to do a particular task. We have also shared our techniques with other not-for-profit Computer Refurbishing Projects, and they can keep up to date by referencing our website.
We do recognize that not all projects will have someone with the web skills to maintain a web page, so in 2007 we will also accept a Microsoft Word document with all text, photos, etc in it, and when we prepare the entry for the judges we will use Word's Save As Web Page, so the judges will have a series of web pages to judge. If you do your entry as a web site, you can include Power Point slide shows, video, and other such data that may not be supported in an MS Word document.