The MQG Guild Leadership Handbook

First off, thank you for being on your guild’s leadership team. The Modern Quilt Guild, like any membership organization, requires strong leadership at the local level to flourish and grow. Whether you are starting your guild, new to your guild’s officer team, or you are an experienced leader, we hope that this document will help you in whatever part of your leadership journey you are on. 

Some parts of this document will be great for new guilds, some will be a refresher, and some might just be a reference guide when you think “I’ve run out of ideas! What do I do at my next guild meeting?!” We hope this helps with any questions you have, but as always we are here to help you along the way too. If you have any questions that you can’t find an answer to here, please reach out to us at info@themodernquiltguild.com

Table of Contents

Click a heading below to jump to that section of the handbook.

  1. Starting your Guild
  2. Structuring your Guild
  3. Policies & Procedures or Handbook
  4. Setting up your Guild
  5. Guild Officers
  6. Being a Guild Officer
  7. Setting Up Your Guild Finances
  8. Budgeting & Dues
  9. Communications with Members
  10. Guild Meetings
  11. Local & Community Events
  12. FAQ’s


1. Starting your Guild

Our members and our mission are at the core of the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG). Our guilds and individual members make up our 16,000-person membership. We are thrilled that your new guild wants to join us.

In this section, we have made every effort to walk you through the steps necessary to get started as an MQG local guild. Some information is strictly for U.S.-based guilds, some are for international guilds, but most information applies to all guilds looking to become affiliate members of the MQG. Welcome!

What is a guild and why are we one?

A guild is a group of people associated with a common interest, goal, or mission. Craft guilds were around in medieval times when groups of skilled craftsmen of the same trade came together to set standards and teach others their skills.

Our guilds are organized in many different structures and operate as independent entities with their own bylaws, officers, budgets, and goals, but at the heart of most of our guilds are regular meetings where members share inspiration, skill-building, and quilting time.

Membership with the MQG means that a local guild becomes formally affiliated with the trademarked name and the network of other MQGs worldwide. All members of local guilds are also conferred membership into the worldwide MQG.

What is a Starter Guild?

In order to give new guilds time to organize, gather a dedicated group of modern quilters, and complete the required administrative work, the MQG developed a Starter Guild tier of membership. A Starter Guild has two years to meet the minimum number of members (10), elect officers, establish bylaws and meet the other requirements to become a dues-paying guild. During the start-up period, the Starter Guild will have access to the MQG website and associated tools. They will also be able to call themselves an MQG. They do not pay dues and are not eligible for 501(c)(3) status through the MQG group exemption option.


2. Structuring your Guild

When you start creating a guild, you should spend some time setting up some ground rules for your guild community. Mission statements, bylaws, policies and procedures help all guild members understand the rules that the guild operates under. If you’re a new guild, you may want to start out with a simple mission statement, bylaws, policies and procedures, or use examples from more mature guilds.


Mission Statements

What is a mission and why do we have one?

All nonprofit organizations are driven by a particular mission or community goal.

At the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) our mission is to support and encourage the growth and development of modern quilting through art, education, and community.

All MQG-associated guilds develop and are driven by similar or parallel missions.

Writing a mission statement:

You will write your guild’s mission statement to reflect your guild’s unique role and also align with the mission of the MQG as a whole.

Characteristics of an effective mission statement include

  • A statement that clearly identifies your organization by name
  • A statement that is short and to the point, providing focus
  • A statement that conveys your passion for what your group does in an active way to help others understand the benefits of your organization
  • A statement that describes and defines your group’s interests and actions by identifying the who, what, why, and how of your group.    

Sample Mission Statements:

Some guilds choose to also include their mission and purpose statements in their bylaws.

Article II: Purpose & Mission Statement

The purpose is to:

  • Develop and encourage the art of modern quilting.
  • Work with other guilds and groups with a similar purpose- to promote the growth of the modern movement and longevity of quilting with future generations.
  • Encourage & inspire new and experienced quilters by offering educational opportunities through classes, workshops, and sharing of information.
  • Support and provide opportunities for “charity” or other works that provide back to the community through the use of modern quilting skills.

Mission Statement:

The Sample Modern Quilt Guild’s mission is to support and encourage the growth and development of modern quilting through art, creativity, education, and community.

Purpose statements are often listed as bullet points that contain details of how the mission is carried out. 

Our Mission Statement:

The Sample Modern Quilt Guild, a Chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild, is a non-profit organization formed to:

  • Support the enjoyment and growth of modern quilting.
  • Educate members with an emphasis on modern quilting through programs and activities.
  • Promote interest in and appreciation of the art of quilt making, especially modern quilting.
  • Create quilts and other fabric projects for those in our community in need.

Some organizations, combine their mission and purpose statements.

Our mission is to support and encourage the growth and development of modern quilting through art, education, and community.

The Sample Modern Quilt Guild fulfills its mission through community outreach activities, member education, monthly member meetings, and volunteer opportunities.


Creating Bylaws

Writing and Revising your Bylaws

Crafting bylaws is important to structure an organization, and for U.S. guilds, a requirement in order to join the MQG under the 501(c)(3) umbrella federal tax status. Bylaws are legal documents that govern your local guild business. Bylaws also provide guidance regarding leadership and general membership that supports the regular business of your guild. As you craft your guild’s bylaws, use language specific enough to provide guidance as well as language broad enough to provide flexibility as your guild grows and changes.

Specific parts of the bylaws are required to be an affiliate member of the MQG, and that information is outlined below. We have compiled a list of section topics to help you think about how you want your guild to function. Bylaws are the foundation of your guild and generally require approval of a majority of members to amend, so cover items that will not change frequently. But, remember that bylaws are not set in stone and should be reviewed and amended as your guild grows.

Required Sections in your Bylaws (U.S Guilds Only)

For U.S. Guilds, there are some sections of your bylaws that are a requirement as an affiliate guild of the MQGs. Those sections include the following:

  • Your guild name and address (which can be different from your meeting location)

Guild Purpose

The Guild is organized and will be operated exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, or scientific purposes, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.    

This Guild is additionally organized to do any and all lawful acts that may be necessary, useful, suitable, or proper for the furtherance of accomplishment of the purposes of this Guild. Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, the organization shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on (a) by an organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or (b) by an organization, contributions to which are deductible under section 170(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.

The Guild is an affiliate member of the Modern Quilt Guild Inc. Through a group exemption with the Modern Quilt Guild Inc., the Guild is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

  • Within the scope of these purposes, the Guild is organized and operated to
  • Develop and encourage the art of modern quilting,
  • Work with other guilds and groups with a similar purpose,
  • Encourage new quilters and other fiber artists interested in non-traditional and non-art fiber projects,
  • Offer educational opportunities through classes, workshops, and sharing of information, and
  • Support and provide the opportunity for “charity” or other works that provide back to the community through the use of modern quilting skills.
  • The assets and property of the Guild are hereby pledged for use in performing its exempt purpose.

No Private Inurement

No part of the net earnings of the organization shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the organization shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in the Purpose of the Guild

Items to cover in your Bylaws:

Code of Conduct

It is a good practice to have general guidelines regarding the conduct of members, and especially to have these practices documented, if you need to have a frank conversation with a member about their conduct within your guild. These can be included in your bylaws, guild handbook, or policies and procedures statements, and can include items like:

  • Non-Discrimination and/or Non-Harassment Policy
  • General Code of Conduct
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Solicitation
  • Political Lobbying
  • Privacy Policy (social media, data privacy, membership list distribution)
  • Member removal process
  • Inclusion statements

Membership Requirements

Bylaws should outline who can become a member, what general membership benefits and responsibilities look like, dues, and membership rolls. Some areas you may want to address, depending on your guild makeup are:

  • Benefits, rights, and responsibilities of membership
  • Types of levels of membership (General, Business, Student, Youth)
  • Dues for each membership level
  • The time period covered by dues
  • When annual dues are collected
  • Process for revision of dues amount
  • Policy for removing non-renewing members from the rolls
  • Proration of dues for members who join midterm
  • Transferring of guild membership from another guild or from an individual to a guild member
  • Guest or visitor policy

Meetings:

General guidance around various meeting types should be included in your bylaws. Some topics you might want to include are:

  • Officer Meetings: How often do officers meet? For what purpose? Are they required to be in person? Is there an attendance requirement for officers? Are there rules governing officer meetings?
  • General Membership Meetings: Record the day they are held (ie 2nd Tuesday of the month) and the time period of the meeting (7:00-9:00) Are there rules that govern your meeting?
  • Meeting Minutes: When and what method will minutes be disseminated? Will these be for all meetings or just officer meetings?
  • Other Types of Events: you can outline any structure to events such as sew days, charity events, and annual business meetings
  • Special Meetings: You can establish guidelines on who can call a special meeting, for what purpose, and any notification guidelines around special meetings.

Finances:

Finances are an important aspect of fulfilling your legal obligations as a guild. It is also an important factor in being transparent and accountable to the membership at large. Some things you may want to consider regarding finances are:

  • Who is responsible for maintaining the finances of the guild? (This is typically the Treasurer.)
  • Where are the financial records held and who has access to them?
  • Will guild accounts be subject to a review process?
  • How often are financials reported to general membership?
  • How are expenditures approved?
  • Liability Insurance: who is required to be covered and how will payments be handled?
  • Contracts: Who has the authority to enter into contracts?
  • Dissolution: it is hard to imagine right now but setting up a plan for a future dissolution of the guild is important. There are requirements for dissolving a non-profit organization, so be sure to research the regulations in your area.

Many of these items are explained in greater detail in the Guild Finance Section

Changing the Bylaws:

Guilds change over time, and your bylaws should too. A process for reviewing and changing the bylaws should be a part of your bylaws. Things to consider are:

  • How often will bylaws be reviewed? Who will do the review?
  • Who can recommend an ad hoc revision of the bylaws?
  • How will recommended changes to the bylaws (ad hoc or peer review) be approved by membership/officers? (voice vote, show of hands, paper ballot)
  • Does a quorum, a majority of the membership, need to exist prior to taking a vote?

3. Policies And Procedures Or Guild Handbook

Having policies and procedures or a guild handbook can be useful to help outline how your guild functions outside of your bylaws. There are many things that you will want your guild board to agree on, and then be able to discuss with your membership.

  • Committees: What types of committees will you have? Are they ad hoc committees or standing subcommittees? How are committee members assigned? How long will committee members serve?
  • Swap and Challenge Guidelines: Are there sign-up requirements? Are there deadlines for swaps? Are things swapped one to one or in a round-robin? If you use specific fabric, is a deposit required to receive fabric or does the guild absorb that cost?
  • Door Prize Guidelines: Are there door prizes? How are the winners chosen? How are the door prizes obtained? Are there door prizes at every meeting, quarterly, or another interval?
  • Blog and Social Media Policy: Who can write blog posts or post to social media channels? Do posts go through an approval process prior to publishing? If so, who approves blog posts? How is photography found for blog posts? Are there guidelines around publishing members’ work?
  • Photography Policy: Do you have a photography release allowing the guild to use photos of members’ work or pictures of individual members in guild promotions?
  • Charity Guidelines: How is a charity chosen? Does the guild do charity work at all? Do you give only to one entity (such as the location where you meet)? Can members recommend charities or run their own charity drives within a guild meeting? Is there a charity committee that evaluates charity projects and approves what the guild will work on?
    • Note: There are no formal guidelines at the worldwide MQG level around how much, if any, of the individual guild’s activity is charity-focused.
  • Fundraising Guidelines: Does the guild do fundraising? How is fundraising done? Do you fundraise for your own guild, or do you do fundraisers for outside organizations? Do you hold quilt raffles or basket raffles? Who can purchase tickets? Are there standard ticket prices? When creating fundraising guidelines, consult with your local gaming authority or local government on plans to hold raffles.
  • Show and Tell Guidelines: What can be shown at show and tell? Can only modern items be shown or are all items welcome? How many times can an item be shown? (Can an item be shown as a quilt-top/flimsy and then shown again when finished?)

4. Setting up your Guild

Registering As A Nonprofit

Depending on where you are in the world, your state, federal, or territorial government will have a method to register your new guild as a not-for-profit. This formalizes the organization, allowing it to exist as a stand-alone entity, to have a bank account and post-office box, and obtain insurance apart from the MQG. Depending on the tax scheme of the area, formalizing the organizational structure may allow you to issue tax receipts for donations.

As A Non-Profit Do We Have To Do Charity Work? 

Although we encourage charity sewing, there is no requirement to do charity sewing to maintain your non-profit status or remain a chapter of the MQG. Do the activities that your guild feels passionately about. 

Not For Profit Registration – For U.S. Based Guilds:

After you pay your dues for the first time, you will apply for inclusion in the MQG’s 501(c)(3) group exemption. In order to complete the U.S. Group Exemption Application, you will want to comply with the sections that follow.

What is 501(c)(3) status?

Many nonprofits apply for tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and/or their state. This means an organization does not pay corporate income tax on the income generated from charitable activities. It also means that donations to the organization may be tax-deductible to the donor. These groups are often called 501(c)(3)s because that refers to the federal tax code designation

One major benefit to becoming a U.S.-based member guild of the MQG is participating in the group exemption with the IRS. This means that without applying individually, you will be able to benefit from having 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. A group exemption relationship means that you are required to file your own taxes and operate as an independent organization but are part of the MQG’s umbrella status.

To be listed under the group exemption, you must have the following:

  • Your bylaws must contain specific language outlined in the Creating Bylaws section 
  • An Employer Identification Number
  • A guild-specific bank account
  • Elected officers

Registering For An Employer Identification Number – U.S. Based Guilds

U.S. guilds are required to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes. You don’t need to be an employer to get an EIN! You get an EIN to identify your guild as an entity with the IRS. You will need an EIN to open a bank account to keep your guild funds separated from an individual’s personal bank account.

AN EIN can be obtained for free from the IRS here: (https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online)

To fill out the form you will need some basic information:

  • The formal name of your guild
  • A mailing address (Most guilds either get a PO Box or use the home address of one of the guild officers. This address can be changed if that member ever changes their status with your guild.)
  • Social Security Number for one of your guild officers
  • When filling out the online form, you will want to choose “Other Non-Profit/Tax-Exempt Organization” as the organization type when you begin the application. This section is under “additional types.”
  • Once you file the form, the IRS will populate a letter with your new Tax ID information. Keep a copy of this document in a safe place such as a Google Drive or DropBox, wherever your guild keeps its important financial documents.

Not For Profit Registration – For Non – U.S. Based Guilds:

For Canada-Based Guilds:

For Canadian guilds, each province registers not-for-profit organizations separately, and you will need to work with your province to understand the requirements. Canada makes a distinction between not-for-profit and charitable status for organizations. Registering as a not-for-profit organization should be your first step, as it forms the basis for your organization. This alone will not allow you to issue tax receipts for donations to the guild, as that requires you to be a registered charity with Revenue Canada. Further information will be available with your provincial government and on the Revenue Canada website.

For Australia-Based Guilds:

For Australian guilds, each state registers incorporated associations separately, and you will need to register with the state. Running an incorporated association is a simple and more affordable means of creating a separate legal entity for local guilds. Further information for each state is listed below:

State/territoryAuthorityWeb address
Australian Capital TerritoryAccess Canberrawww.accesscanberra.act.gov.au
New South WalesOffice of Fair Tradingwww.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
Northern TerritoryConsumer and Business Affairswww.justice.nt.gov.au
QueenslandOffice of Fair Tradingwww.fairtrading.qld.gov.au
South AustraliaConsumer and Business Serviceswww.cbs.sa.gov.au
TasmaniaOffice of Consumer Affairs & Fair Tradingwww.consumer.tas.gov.au
VictoriaConsumer Affairswww.consumer.vic.gov.au
Western AustraliaDepartment of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safetywww.commerce.wa.gov.au/

All Other International Guilds:

A simple Google search for incorporation or registration of a non-profit or a not-for-profit society should provide details on what you might need.


Po Boxes & Mailing Addresses

Your official address can be a PO Box or an individual officer’s home address. This will be the address listed on bank accounts, tax information, and guild contact forms.

If you choose to get a PO Box, set it up closest to whoever will be responsible for checking the box on a regular basis. You can get an application for a PO Box at usps.com (for U.S. Based guilds) or by visiting your local Post Office. Prices and availability of boxes vary by location. When applying for a PO Box you will need two forms of identification: one photo and one non-photo. Those can include:

  • Driver’s License or State ID
  • Armed Forces, government, university, or recognized corporate ID
  • Passport or Passport Card
  • Current Lease, Mortgage, or Deed of Trust
  • Voter or Vehicle Registration
  • Home or Vehicle Insurance Policy

You may want to designate additional individuals to be able to pick up packages from your PO Box. These individuals will need to be able to present a valid Photo ID when picking up the packages and be on the pre-approved list.

5. Guild Officers

Your bylaws should specify who can be an officer of the guild. In order to gain membership into the MQG, your board must consist of three unrelated members on an annual basis.

Some things to think about when thinking about your guild officers are:

  • Who can be an officer? Do they need to reside in the same city or locale as your guild? Be a member of the guild for a specified period?
  • How are officer candidates chosen or nominated?
  • How long is an officer’s term? (Consider staggering term lengths so that your leadership team has some continuity.)
  • Can officers serve multiple terms? If so, is there a cap on how long they can serve?
  • As terms end, how are important documents transitioned to incoming officers?
  • When are officer elections held?
  • Must a quorum of general membership be present for voting? If so, what constitutes a quorum?
  • How are candidates elected/confirmed once they are nominated (voice vote, closed ballot, as a slate, or individual voting)?
  • Are proxy votes permitted, do you have to be present, or do you allow online voting?
  • Can an officer be removed? If so, what is that process?
  • If an officer must resign, what is the process to replace them?

We’ve compiled some ideas below for what each core position may require. These are different from guild to guild, so disperse responsibilities as you think will work best for your organization.

PRESIDENT

The President’s primary functions are overseeing the smooth running of the entire guild and making sure the guild’s mission and purpose are being followed. The President must feel comfortable speaking in front of a large group of people. Organization skills are necessary and follow-through is a must.

  • Actively participates in leadership and decisions about topics such as annual planning, programs, events, challenges, budgeting, and membership. Arranges for, schedules, and facilitates general meetings, sew days, and board meetings.
  • Assists with, coordinates, and approves the planning of monthly meetings and sew days.
  • Prepares and posts the agenda for monthly guild meetings and board meetings.
  • Maintains (or delegates maintenance of) all social media such as the guild’s blog, Flickr, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
  • Attends monthly guild meetings, sew days, board meetings, and guild programs.
  • Acts as an approver of financial transactions, as a signatory on the guild’s bank account, and/or approves contracts
  • Considers suggestions from members and works with individuals as needed.
  • Typically, acts as the facilitator or “emcee” of the regular guild meeting.

VICE PRESIDENT

  • Performs the duties of the President if needed, including running the monthly meeting.
  • Plans and prepares recommendations for Board approval for regular meeting programs and demos.
  • Actively recruits member and guest speakers for meeting demos and presentations on topics of interest especially as they relate to modern quilting style and techniques.
  • Assists (or helps delegate) in maintaining the guild’s social media accounts.
  • Attends monthly guild meetings, sew days, board meetings, and guild programs.
  • Along with the other officers, actively participates in leadership and decisions about topics such as annual planning, programs, events, challenges, budgeting, and membership.

SECRETARY

  • Takes notes and photos at monthly meetings.
  • Posts monthly minutes to the guild’s blog including announcements, guild business, presentations, show and tell, etc.
  • Assists in maintaining the guild’s social media accounts.
  • Attends monthly guild meetings, sew days, board meetings, and guild programs.
  • Along with the other officers, actively participates in leadership and decisions about topics such as annual planning, programs, events, challenges, budgeting, and membership.
  • Corresponds as necessary with organizations who have dealings with the guild.
  • Maintains documentation of sign-in sheets, agendas, minutes, etc.

TREASURER

  • Maintains the guild’s bank account, including preparing reports for monthly meetings and board meetings.
  • Prepares budget for the board’s approval.
  • Pays any bills that may incur, including reimbursements to members.
  • Handles membership dues collection throughout the year.
  • Maintains membership records including new membership forms, up-to-date spreadsheet and or database of members, and membership directory.
  • Provides a summary of financial and membership information regularly.
  • Attends monthly guild meetings, sew days, board meetings, and guild programs.
  • Along with the other officers, actively participates in leadership and decisions about topics such as annual planning, programs, events, challenges, budgeting, and membership.
  • Files all required official paperwork and tax returns in a timely manner.

OTHER POSITIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Programming coordinator to coordinate any speakers or workshops
  • Charity organizer to organize various philanthropic activities
  • Communications and/or social media coordinator to create content and manage the various guild accounts
  • Committee chairperson to oversee various committees if you utilize a committee structure
  • Membership coordinator to organize and maintain membership records

After some experience leading your local guild, you may consider volunteering for a leadership position on a worldwide level!

The MQG has regional Board representatives, as well as Region 5 ambassadors, that provide a bridge between members and the larger organization and help guide the evolution and growth of the MQG. If you want to learn more, contact your regional representative.


6. Being a Guild Officer

Electronic Communication Among The Officers

It is a good idea to have a shared drive or another electronic filing system that your officers can use to store documents. Google Drive is one common tool, although there are other platforms like DropBox and Box that can also be used. Encourage officers to put guild documents in that space so that they can be commonly accessed and can be located when officer transitions occur. Documents to which multiple officers should have access include

  • Guild membership rosters
  • Leases and rental agreements
  • Contracts with teachers, speakers, etc.
  • Insurance policies and certificates
  • Financial records

Officer Email Addresses

Some guilds have found it useful to use Google Workspace for nonprofits. They set up email addresses such as president@anytownmodernquiltguild.com or treasurer@anytownmodernquiltguild.com. Those email addresses stay with the position and transition from leader to leader.

Other guilds have found it useful to have one shared inbox that everyone on the guild board shares access to, such as anytownmodernquiltguild@gmail.com. This can serve to keep all communication and documentation in one central location. 

It doesn’t matter what route you go, but it is important to keep this communication in a central location outside of an individual member’s email accounts so as leadership teams change, the contact information for the guild remains the same.

Facilitating A Guild Officer Meeting

Guild officer meetings are more like planning sessions that reflect the current and potential needs of the guild rather than a regular guild meeting that might include education, learning, and community building. Guild officer meetings, therefore, have more direct input from the gathered officers, and must often cover much more information in the same amount of time as a regular guild meeting. 

How Often Should The Officers Of A Guild Meet?

Some guild officers meet as frequently as before every regular guild meeting or another once-monthly date; some meet exclusively online using video chat software, Facebook private groups, or email chains; and some meet only once a year in a marathon planning session. Most use a mix of in-person meetings and online communication.

When deciding how often the officers of your guild should meet, take into consideration the time commitment it requires of your members. It may be more difficult to find members willing to take leadership roles if the time commitment of the guild board is seen as arduous or excessive by potential board members. Many guild officers meet quarterly for an hour to 90 minutes before or after their weekend meeting date OR on a weekend if their meetings fall on a weeknight. This quarterly meeting time can be supplemented with committee meetings and online communication. If you meet more frequently (monthly, for example), consider making sure the officer meeting is much shorter than the regular guild meeting. If you choose to meet less frequently, consider using a yearly retreat model where decisions are made for an entire calendar year in one epic meeting and followed up on via regular communication throughout the year.

The focus of guild officer meetings is always the health and mission of your local organization. What is required to keep your guild healthy? Do you need to raise more money or gain new members? Is your meeting time and space adequate to the desires and needs of your members? What kinds of meetings and activities could your guild be offering to enrich and support your current and future membership? What programming could your guild incorporate to promote the education and appreciation of modern quilting? 

Keeping your Officer Meetings Focused

The president should create an agenda in advance of the meeting that covers all the board members’ duties as needed. For example, the treasurer reports in on finances, the secretary on membership and minutes from the last board meeting, etc. Ask for these items in advance of the meeting as well as any potential new officer business.

Also, look out at least six months to a year in advance and create agenda items for upcoming events, opportunities, or even potential problems for your guild officers. Is there a theme or outline for every general guild meeting between this board meeting and the next? Is there a plan for several general meetings beyond?

Have an agenda for your officers’ meetings as well. For example: five minutes for the treasurer reporting on finances and any questions that might arise and 30 minutes to loosely plan the general meeting schedule for the next three months.

Keep meetings efficient. If you regularly give a treasurer’s report at your general meeting, do your guild officers need to spend 10 minutes or any minutes at all on it in your guild officer meeting? Should finance discussions be moved to budget discussions yearly and/or as needed?

Set expectations and norms to keep things on track. This may mean limiting small talk or using a time-management strategy like ‘Lean Coffee’ where guild officers decide on a unit of time and when a topic hits that limit (say seven minutes), the group votes to continue the discussion or move on. Such strategies can prevent a single officer or concern from monopolizing the meeting. Sometimes, try rearranging the agenda and working from the bottom of the list to the top if the bottom items keep getting pushed.

It is important to strike a balance between healthy discussion amongst the officers and keeping meetings focused and a reasonable length of time for your officers. The president is responsible for running meetings, and that may include setting limits on the amount of discussion or encouraging the board to move on even if they do not all feel that the discussion is over.

Succession Planning for Officers

Ensuring officer positions are filled year after year can be a daunting task without proper planning. Many guild members will feel they are not qualified for positions or may not understand what level of commitment is required from a position. Encouraging members to volunteer for minor leadership positions, such as committee heads, can expose members to how your board operates with less pressure. Your guild can consider including leadership funnels in your bylaws such as the current year vice president commits to serving as the guild president the following year, etc.

Many organizations have a “Continuum of Volunteerism.” This is the idea that you first ask a person for a small task, like bringing cookies to a meeting. Once they have helped in this small way, they might be more willing to organize a bigger project — like the block lotto next month, for example. In time they may be willing to head up the retreat next year (a larger task). After a large ask, you may want to consider asking them for a smaller task again (bringing cookies), to give them a break, or give someone else a larger task. This is a great way to form a funnel of people who may eventually end up on your guild board. There are also many people who may just be happy to bring the cookies, in which case you will have delicious cookies at every meeting.

It is also important to start the nomination/selection process for officers early. This ensures a smooth transition can be made from current officers to new officers. This also ensures plenty of time to fill vacant positions and gives the current officers time to reach out to guild members to discuss potentially volunteering in a leadership role with the guild.

Often at the end of an officer’s terms or as part of the election process, publicly thanking your officers for their hard work can be an important part of honoring and making visible that the work being done and can illuminate the roles in your guild. This thanking can take the form of a round of applause at a meeting after a particular milestone in each officer’s term or as a physical gift for the outgoing officers each year. A thank you gift seems simple, and your guild may only have a small amount to budget for a physical gift, but this token of the guild’s appreciation of the officer’s work can go a long way towards making the hours of volunteering seem worth it. This public acknowledgment can also encourage members to take on a role that requires more of their time because they know it will be appreciated.


7. Setting Up Your Guild Finances

Guild Bank Accounts

It is important for all guilds in the U.S. and abroad to have all guild finances outside of a personal bank account. While this is only a requirement for membership for U.S.-based guilds, we encourage all guilds to follow the same suggestions. This gives guilds the ability to easily and transparently track and report on their guild funds. Having a separate, dedicated bank account keeps guild funds separate from any personal funds and bank accounts of the treasurer and other executive members. This is particularly important for the collection of your guild dues and any charitable donations you accept.

We recommend shopping around for a bank account. Find a bank with enough branches that it will be easy for any subsequent treasurers to visit a location convenient to them. Because your guild is a non-profit organization, ask the bank about a free or low-cost account intended for not-for-profit or community organizations.

Before opening your account, call the bank you have chosen to see what documents will be needed. This will often include your EIN or equivalent business or not-for-profit registration number. 

Banks may require any of the following documents:

  • Copy of formation documents (this varies by bank, but may include minutes from your first meeting, guild bylaws, etc.)
  • Photo ID of any signatory on the account.
  • Initial deposit
  • There are some additional things to consider when opening your bank account:
  • Who will be authorized on the account to sign checks? 
    • Besides your treasurer, who on the executive board will have the ability to approve payments? Generally, guilds allow the president and treasurer to do so, although some guilds also include the vice president and secretary to be signatories. Be conscious of the fact that all signatories may need to be present when opening the account.
  • Will you require one or two signatures on checks?
  • Will the bank account include a debit card? If so, who will have those cards and PIN numbers?
  • Who has access to accept and send electronic transfers on the account?

If your bank account has online access, ensure that there are at least two people in the guild who can access the bank account, including the ability to reset passwords. These two people can share login information or have separate accounts. This again is generally at least the president and treasurer.

As a non-profit can we have a balance in our bank account?

Yes, as a non-profit you can maintain a balance in your bank account. A non-profit simply means that any surplus won’t go to enriching the pockets of your board. Although, you should keep an eye on your balance and take your responsibility to be sustainable for the long term seriously. There are many times that you have to put deposits down on venues for retreats or pay a teacher and you want to have cash reserves to do that before collecting fees from students, but you shouldn’t have so much that your membership feels that you are mismanaging their funds. 

If you have a significant surplus, have a discussion with your board on ways that you can provide more value to your members. Could you provide refreshments at some of your meetings or sew days? Increase prizes? Bring in more expensive speakers or more speakers generally?

Other Financial Payment Systems

In addition to accepting cash or checks to your bank account, many guilds find having an electronic form of payment very useful. Many guilds set up a PayPal Business Account because this enables the guild to invoice for events, use a credit card reader for in-person payments, and use PayPal in lieu of your bank account on many online platforms. Setting up a PayPal Business Account is easy to do on paypal.com with an email address and password.

Other online credit card processing systems are available, including Square, ZenCart, or Stripe. Find the option that works best for your organization.

What Financial Records Need to be Kept?

While each guild is different in what copies of financial records you keep, at a minimum we suggest that you keep the following documents:

  • The guild’s EIN letter from the IRS (U.S. guilds only)
  • Any registration certifications
  • Copies of the annual Profit & Loss Statements. U.S. guilds will have to submit these to the MQG each year
  • Records of any board meetings and any changes to your guild bylaws for historical knowledge
  • Records of any insurance policies covering the guild

How should we be recording financial information?

Working with the treasurer to select a method to record financial transactions, you should keep in mind the following considerations:

  • These records will need to be taken over by another treasurer in the future, so your method should not be overly complex or expensive to access. Guilds commonly use a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets. Larger guilds with significant funds through the years may choose to use QuickBooks Online.
  • The method you choose should allow for a summarized report to the executive committee and guild members on a periodic basis. Detailed record-keeping is important, but a separate summary sheet or another report should be created to allow a snapshot of the financial picture for decision making.
  • The method you use should allow for reconciliation between the financial records and the guild’s bank account on a periodic basis.

If you are collecting or raising money for a specific purpose, like the purchase of supplies for charity quilts, you should work with your Treasurer to specifically identify or mark those revenues and expenses to provide reporting to your guild executive and membership.


8. Budgeting & Dues

Every guild needs to create at least a basic budget for the activities you are planning during the year.

The majority of all recurring revenue will come from membership dues, which are charged by virtually all guilds. As of 2020, based on an informal survey, we found that guild dues in the U.S. range from $25-$75, with an average being around $50.

At a minimum, your guild will need to cover membership in the MQG. You will need to think about other costs that your guild will likely incur – meeting space, insurance, and bank fees. If you are planning on hosting sew days, retreats, or workshops there may be additional upfront payments required before the event for deposits on space or due to the instructor. You may also want to budget for refreshments for social activities or prizes for contests and challenges. 

When hosting an event or bringing in an outside speaker, some guilds will choose to cover those expenses out of guild funds, while others use general membership dues and charge a fee to individuals who attend the specific events

How to Share Financial Information with the Guild

Your membership will likely provide guidance on how much financial information and details they are interested in. They will likely want to know that their membership dues are being spent appropriately and that the guild is financially stable. 

Here are some tips for discussing the finances of the guild:

  • Focus on the value that the member receives from both the local guild and from the overall MQG organization, including highlights of what the guild did during the last year and what benefits the members get from the MQG. This helps members understand what they get for the individual dues, and why the local guild pays dues to the MQG.
  • Share highlights of the budget and financial results with the guild. Guild members may not need knowledge of every transaction but should understand what the finances look like and where funds are being spent. In addition, if you have earmarked revenues for a specific project or activity, like charity quilts, you should provide a breakdown of how much money was spent on that endeavor, and what the money was used for.
  • Help your members to understand that many retreats and teachers generally require a deposit long before you do registration for your event, so having a balance in your coffers helps to stabilize your guild and plan for events that may be occurring a year or two in advance.

Reviewing your Financial Records

The officers of the guild should receive timely reports of the financial activity of the guild. Review of these reports by the officers is an important task in ensuring that guild funds are being used as expected and in understanding the financial health of the guild.

In addition, it is important that your guild has someone other than the treasurer review your accounts on a regular basis, preferably at least annually. It is encouraged that you formalize this practice by writing it into your bylaws, but you should conduct a review even if there is no formal requirement to do so. Many guilds will either get a member of the guild who is a professional accountant or a small committee of two or three members to review the finances of the guild. At a minimum, the people or committee responsible for the review should look at some of the transactions to make sure they seem appropriate given the activity of the guild. In addition, the Treasurer should provide a bank statement and explanation of how the guild books reconcile to the bank statement. Hiring a professional accountant from outside your guild for the review likely isn’t necessary unless you have significant funds or fear impropriety.

Fundraising & Sponsorships

Some guilds choose to supplement their dues income with fundraising or sponsorships. You could approach local stores to request financial sponsorships for specific events, or you can hold a raffle. Please note that raffle laws can vary by jurisdiction, so please check with your state, province or equivalent to ensure you are complying with any raffle laws. The quilting industry is very generous, and many companies are willing to donate a raffle or door prize, but try to submit requests earlier in the year, as some of the larger companies have a limit on what they will donate in a given quarter or year.

Liability Insurance

Although your guild is an affiliate member of the MQG, your guild and guild activities are not covered under the MQG’s insurance policies.

It is highly recommended that liability insurance be purchased for your guild. This helps protect your leadership and your meeting location. It may seem like a large expense at the outset, but you should maintain that protection for your guild.

You can purchase liability insurance through any of the large insurers. The MQG has also done extensive research into the pricing options for liability insurance and has found a competitive agent you can work with who is familiar with the needs and situations of local MQGs. Before purchasing insurance, check with your meeting location to see if they have any minimum insurance requirements for using their facilities. Facilities may require a certificate of insurance covering them under your policy for meetings and events. 

As with other important guild documents, the insurance policies and insurance certificates should be accessible by more than one officer of the guild, and likely stored electronically.


9. Communications with Members

Managing a Membership Roster

You will need to maintain your membership roster on the MQG member management site. This is how the MQG communicates with your membership and assesses how many active members you have, which impacts the dues you pay to the MQG.

It is useful to maintain a separate local roster for internal communications with guild members. There are websites that assist with maintaining and organizing a roster, however, many guilds find it easiest to maintain a Google spreadsheet containing pertinent information for your active members. This can include name, address, email, social media handles, and other information on their status in the organization. There may be privacy laws in your country or municipality that restrict how you store and share membership information. If there are such laws, be sure your officers and others who have access to the membership roster understand what those 

requirements are.

Once your guild is registered on the MQG website, you can start a Circle for your guild. While any member can set up a Circle, we recommend an officer start and therefore “own” your guild’s Circle. You can choose to make your Circle open so anyone can join or private where your circle is visible to everyone but requires approval to join. Circles are a great way to connect within your guild.

Best Practices for Renewals

RENEWING WITH THE MQG

Guild renewals are a two-step process. First, a guild must do internal renewals where its members pay dues to the guild for the coming year. Then, the guild renews with the MQG by paying guild dues.

For guilds who run their membership year on a calendar year cycle, the best practice is to begin renewals in October/November. Start mentioning renewal dues around that time. Make sure to outline HOW members can renew with you at your meetings and in your newsletters and start taking dues. We also recommend sending personal emails (or a BCC email), to your members who have not renewed.

By December, you should have a rough idea of your numbers for the following year. However, with the MQG renewal period for guilds running from January 1 to March 31, you have plenty of time to solidify your numbers, so take the time you need to get the most accurate member number.

After your internal renewals are complete and you are ready to renew with the MQG, you need to update your member roster. First, add any new members. Then, unlink any members who haven’t renewed. Anyone who is renewing can stay on the list. If these changes move your guild into a different membership tier, you’ll need to let the MQG know. Renewal emails from the MQG will have all the information you need to complete the process.

GETTING MEMBERS TO RENEW

Start promoting renewals about three months before your guild’s expiration. It is worth mentioning at the beginning of each meeting and in your monthly newsletter. We also recommend sending a personal email, it could be a BCC email, to your members who have not renewed. 

Guild Web Presence

There are several options available for setting up your website. You will need a domain name, which can be purchased from vendors such as GoDaddy or Google. Then you will need to choose a website hosting platform.

There are many hosting options out there. Free options include Wix or Blogger, or others such as WordPress or SquareSpace that charge a hosting fee.

Make sure that whatever platform you choose is easy for your website manager (usually a volunteer member) to maintain. Also, consider how your website management can be transitioned to another member down the road.

A website should include: the guild’s name, meeting location, an email or contact form so people can get in touch, and links to social media. Advanced options would include online membership sign-up (with payments), listings of all events, and online workshop registration.

MAINTAINING YOUR OVERALL WEB PRESENCE:

Maintaining social media accounts can be pivotal for getting the word out about what is going on, keeping your membership up to date, and recruiting new members.

Facebook and Instagram are the two main platforms used by the quilting community. Keeping your social media accounts current is one of the most important aspects of your guild’s web presence. Even if it’s just a friendly reminder about your usual monthly meetings, it will tell people who find you online that your guild is still active. Keep in mind that Facebook and Instagram have different audiences, so it is important to keep both up to date.

Pinterest can be a great resource for your membership. You can use it to post challenge or swap inspiration. It can house useful tips and tricks for members (like that link to homemade spray baste that everyone keeps asking about)! However, Pinterest likely won’t drive new membership.

It is best that one or two people manage your web presence. Too many people posting can get confusing. It is a good idea to establish an officer position to manage communications and social media for the guild. Also, make sure whoever does the social media posting logs out of the account after they post, to prevent accidentally posting personal photos or something controversial to your guild account.


10. Guild Meetings

Guild meetings allow members to come together as a community and help you communicate what is going on within your local guild and the larger MQG community. They help build the modern quilting community and are a chance for your membership to exchange ideas and socialize.

Common components of guild meetings include

  • Business of the guild where news and notices to the members are shared. This can include financial reports, news from the MQG, items of interest to the local quilt community, or upcoming guild plans. You may also want to welcome new members or guests.
  • Programming of featured topics, speakers, or demonstrations that will be of interest to members.
  • Show and tell where members share what they are working on.
  • Facilitation of swaps, block lottos, challenges, or charity projects.
  • Some guilds will include
  • Sewing time: Some guilds combine a formal meeting with sewing or quilting time. Other guilds prefer to have separate sew days for sewing time.
  • Break/Social Time: Some guilds include this as a component of their meetings, while others prefer to let members socialize before or after the meeting. If you are not including a break or social time at all meetings, make a point of including something that builds your MQG community and allows members to get to know one another on a periodic basis. Invite members to have a pre-meeting coffee or a post-meeting drink/dessert or plan an icebreaker or other social activity on a periodic basis.
  • Pre-Meeting Dinner: Some guilds host an informal meet-up at a restaurant or bar before meetings. This is especially great for those who might not have enough time to go home between work and the meeting or are traveling longer distances to come to the meetings. Places like Panera are a great option for this with their informal seating and ability for each person to order and pay individually.

Officers of the guild should meet periodically to plan future agendas. Using your officer meetings and calendar effectively will also ensure you don’t miss any important approvals or governance requirements.

During your meetings, make sure you take time to recognize accomplishments and extra efforts by members of the guilds, especially for retiring officer members, and those who have helped plan retreats/workshops or other large projects.

Running a Meeting

You’ll first need to decide who will chair the meetings. This is usually the president of the guild, but it could be another person within your guild. At the start of each meeting, you’ll need to outline the plan for the meeting, including the agenda, planned breaks, and timelines. You should also outline how you would like guild members to participate in the meetings. Let members know if there is a specific time that they can ask questions or if they are free to ask questions as you go along.

Your guild bylaws will outline and specify how your meetings are to be documented and whether formal minutes are required. The Secretary or an alternate should be in attendance and be prepared to take notes. Also, consider whether you will ask someone to take photos for use on social media and for the guild’s webpage.

Your guild bylaws will also specify how the guild makes decisions. Most meetings occur uneventfully, with general consensus around decisions. However, if a guild member brings up a controversial or challenging point, you should be prepared to move into a more formal decision process. It is important for all the officers of your guild to understand your bylaws, including how the guild formally makes decisions.

Planning a Meeting Agenda

Many guilds target a two-hour meeting agenda, which balances providing information and value without members having to sit for too long. If you are including time for members to sew within the meeting, you may want to have a shorter formal component to the meeting.

Creating a formal agenda allows you to set expectations with your speakers and presenters and accommodates course correction if items are taking too long.

A sample agenda might go as follows:

7:00 – Call meeting to order, welcome and guild business updates

7:15 – Featured speaker or demonstration

8:00 – Block lotto, swap or challenge reveals

8:30 – Show and tell

9:00 – Meeting conclusion

In the above sample agenda, the speaker has a 45-minute time slot. When discussing timeframes with the speaker, you’ll want to allow time for questions and discussions, which means they should target about a 35-minute presentation to allow 10 minutes for questions by the guild.

Meeting Space

It is inevitable that your guild will outgrow your original meeting space or you may find it no longer meets the guild’s needs. The main considerations on meeting space are size, location, and budget. Ideally, your guild would begin looking for a new space before your old space has reached top capacity. Examine your guild’s growth trends before you begin your search and pair that with your budget so your new space will have room to accommodate further growth and you won’t have to do this process again in a few months.

Some communities have libraries, churches, and other local organizations with meeting spaces that are happy to offer a space for free or for a small fee to a non-profit organization. Ask members to reach out to organizations that they are involved with. Also, consider reaching out to your local chamber of commerce; small local businesses might be eager for your guild to meet in their location because it would mean advertising and possible sales for them.

When evaluating new spaces, it is good to focus on how your guild’s meetings are run. Do you prioritize group sewing? If so, you will need to make sure your space can accommodate sewing machines and irons. If you like small group demonstrations or conversation, an auditorium may be too restrictive. Will chairs or tables be provided in the quantities you will need? Does the space require any setup or takedown before or after meetings?

Relocating a guild meeting can be tricky. If the new location is too far from the old location, you may lose members who are unwilling or unable to travel to the new location (however, you may gain new members because the location is more favorable to them). Be sure that your guild’s financial reserves can take any adjustments in fees, and that your guild dues allow for any rental fees that the new space may require. Ideally, the growth in membership should allow for the increase in budget for the larger space.

It is also important to consider items like parking, accessibility, and depending on your city or community, access to transit. You may want to avoid places with stairs or inaccessible bathrooms that may limit who is able to participate in your guild. If a space does not have adequate parking or parking is expensive, it may limit the turnout at your guild functions.

When you have located a suitable space, work with the property owner to put in place a written agreement that outlines the responsibilities of each party. The property owner may have a lease agreement that they have worked with before.

At a minimum, you should outline:

  • Date and time: The exact times and dates of the rental, and how much notice the owner or guild needs to provide when canceling the arrangements
  • Rental fees. Ensure a schedule or breakdown of any other fees is included, such as cleaning or overtime fees.
  • Access: Agree on how to access the space. Will the guild get its own key or access code, or be expected to pick up a key monthly? How are keys being returned?
  • Restrictions: Requirements on what is allowed or not allowed in the space. Are food and drink allowed? Can things like design walls be attached to the walls? Can you celebrate birthdays or other milestones with candles? Are you expected to do any cleaning prior to leaving the space?

Speakers & Presenters

SCHEDULING SPEAKERS AND PRESENTERS

Education is a component included within the mission of the MQG, and most guild members enjoy the sharing of techniques and ideas. Some guilds have a speaker each month and others have them less often. Speakers can be from within your guild or from the outside. Some will work with you for free, and some will charge a fee to come address your guild. You may want to develop policies or guidelines around speakers, including the maximum costs you are willing to pay and how often you will include non-local speakers.

Many guilds conduct a poll of members at least once a year to determine what they want to learn and who from. An ongoing dialogue with members can also lead to suggestions and ideas. A committee, often under the program coordinator, can be set up to search for and recommend speakers.

Your executive calendar is a good place to start when determining when to schedule speakers. Review the guild calendar to select your dates six months to one year in advance, if possible.

  • Determine how much time during your monthly meeting can be set aside for a presentation.
  • For speakers who visit during monthly guild meetings, make sure that they can easily show or teach something within the allotted time.
  • Set expectations in advance for members about presenters and their content. Post info on the speaker and topics (and any relevant links) on your website.
  • Advertise the event on community message boards and Facebook pages and on your guild’s various social media platforms.

FINDING SPEAKERS AND PRESENTERS

It is possible that you have very interesting lecturers available to you locally, either from within your guild or in your local community. Be sure and let guild members know in advance the content and length of the lecture. Speakers should be able to provide you with information you can share with your guild, including their bio, photo, workshop, or lecture descriptions.

One of your best sources of speakers can be local guild members. Ask a member to share their special talents — embroidery, hand quilting, binding tips, English paper piecing, matching binding, applique, color theory for quilters, etc. Members who are accomplished quilters can do a trunk show of their own work, or have a few do “mini-trunk shows” at the same meeting. One of the most popular meetings at the Chicago MQG asks five of the local guild members to present a collection of their work. If any of your members teach quilting, ask them to present their regular programming or an abridged version of one of their more popular classes. They may be willing to donate their time to the guild or you may need to work out payment details (make sure your locality allows for payment of members of your organization). Members who have recently returned from QuiltCon, Quilt Market or another quilty event may be able to give the guild a recap with photos.

WHAT ARE OTHER SOURCES OF SPEAKERS?

The MQG provides a Teacher, Instructor, & Lecturer Directory for its members. You can also use the QuiltCon catalog (current and past) or look through the MQG Resource Library as a source for lecturers and workshop instructors. If budget is a concern, consider showing a past webinar on a desirable topic from the archives of the MQG.

Local community artists, artisans, and community centers may be a good source of ideas. Members who may be involved in other hobbies can help find people who are teaching non-quilty arts, such as weavers, dyers, fabric printers, bag makers, pattern designers, artists who upcycle, etc. Local museums or quilt preservation societies may have an expert on quilt-making or other textile art. Book publishers may have a touring author available to speak, or you may be able to invite a “textile arts” or design professor from a local college.

National quilt suppliers may be able to provide a local representative to speak to the guild; thread manufacturers, fabric companies, and batting companies are good places to start. Local quilt shops may be willing to visit and show what’s new or upcoming. In most cases, if the presenter is a shop, supplier, or repping products, then they are willing to provide the speaker for free. Know that a retailer may want the opportunity to sell the product at the meeting – check beforehand on any sales restrictions that may be in place at your meeting location. 

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BOOKING A SPEAKER OUTSIDE YOUR AREA:

When booking a speaker who will be traveling to meet your guild, you will need to set expectations around the visit with them. Discuss, in advance, details like how much time they will have, where will they be on the agenda, what kind of space they have, how many people will be there, and whether you provide an honorarium.

You will also need to decide whether any costs associated with the speaker will be covered by overall membership fees or if members are charged for each speaker. Some guilds include an amount for speakers and programming in their yearly budget. Having a set amount that the guild is willing to spend helps narrow down the choices. Most guilds charge non-members a fee to attend special programming. You can also schedule a national speaker to address your guild digitally using Zoom or another virtual platform to save money on travel expenses.

Hospitality goes a long way to make your out-of-town speaker feel important. Find a suitable hotel or make arrangements with a guild member (but be sure to follow any guidelines the speaker or teacher may have in their contract). Be considerate about location, noise, and what’s available nearby. They likely do not know your city so make plans to transport them to and from where you are staying to your meeting space. A guild member may be happy to transport them. You may also wish to organize a meal with the visiting speaker. Typically, board members attend if possible, although some guilds invite all members to join in. In most cases, each member pays for their meal themselves.

Provide your speaker with an agenda with all pertinent information for the speaker for their trip. This should include addresses of all locations where they are staying and teaching, contact information for anyone picking up or dropping off (especially important at airport pick up), any confirmation numbers for arrangements that have been made. Be sure to build in any travel time.  See the ample Instructor Travel Agenda.

To offset the cost of bringing in an out-of-town speaker, work with other guilds in your area to see if you can book a Saturday at one guild and Sunday at another. This way you can split the costs of airfare and hotel accommodations, and it will mean more income for the teacher.

BOOKING A SPEAKER 

Many speakers have a blog/website that provides current workshop and lecture options and if so, determine what is best for your guild. Contact the speaker and see what their schedule is for the next year. Their traveling/teaching schedule may already be scheduled near you at some point so that travel costs can be minimized.

Have a contract that spells out all variables. Putting all of your expectations down on paper clarifies those expectations for both parties. Make it clear what is expected of the speaker (Workshop, Lecture, Trunk Show). The MQG has a sample instructor contract which you can use to create your own..

You will also need to find a suitable location for your event and ensure it includes what you and the speaker need. Plan in advance for needs such as tables, projector, design walls, etc.

Planning a Workshop

A workshop is generally a one or two-day event hosted by your guild. You may want to survey your membership to help decide what types of workshops your members would attend, what skills they may be interested in improving, or who they might like to learn from.

Contracting with Instructers

Before you reach out to a teacher, you might want to consider a few things:

  • Is it possible for your guild to support the travel expenses to bring this teacher to you?
  • Is this teacher already scheduled to teach near you, such that you might be able to piggyback off a currently scheduled trip, reducing your costs?
  • If this teacher is international, what work permits or visas are required?
  • What time frame would you like to host your workshop? Popular teachers book anywhere from 6 months to 24 months in advance. Be ready to offer a range of dates for your teacher to choose from.

You should establish a written agreement with the teacher, which outlines what you expect from them and what they expect from you. Some items to include:

  • Workshop fees – are there class fees (fees paid directly to the teacher by each student for a pattern or provided supplies) in addition to the total workshop fee? Usually in the class description provided by teacher
  • Travel expenses – hotel, airfare, meals (arrange for a teacher or reimburse)
  • Travel to and from the workshop – Generally, the guild provides transportation to and from the event
  • Meals – meals during the event, meals outside of the event, meals during travel

Spaces for Workshops

Your workshop location should meet a few requirements. The location needs to have enough space for students and the tools needed for the skill being taught. The space required for every participant to use a sewing machine is significantly larger than the space required for hand sewing. Understand the number of tables and chairs you will need and inquire whether the location provides them, otherwise you will need to rent tables and chairs. Your space may need room for design boards or cutting mats and irons. Are you allowed to stick tape on the walls? Can your space support the number of irons you will need for your students? Irons require a lot of electricity, and some locations will charge extra if you require more than one circuit for irons and sewing machines. Make sure to inquire whether your location requires liability or event insurance.

How much space does your teacher require? Do they need more than one table to have a display in addition to a workspace? Do they require their own design board?

Do you plan to include lunch (or any other meal) with your workshop? Make sure your location allows outside food to be brought in or see if they will make catering arrangements with you.

Suggestions for workshop locations

  • Local colleges and universities may have ‘wired’ classrooms with tables, chairs, and reasonable rates for community members to use on weekends
  • Community centers or libraries
  • Craft or fabric stores with classroom space
  • Local churches
  • Businesses with employee connections
  • Swim or golf clubs with clubhouse space

Budgeting for a Workshop

A workshop may be one of the initial larger activities that your guild takes on, so it’s important to set a budget to make sure your guild can accommodate the financial risk of booking a teacher. There are a variety of factors you should review when looking at a workshop budget.

Budgeting for revenueWorkshops are usually funded by charging each participant a fee. There are important considerations in determining how much to charge, including

  • How much are members willing to pay for a 3-hour workshop? 6-hours? 8-hours?
  • How many people can your workshop space hold?
  • Does your teacher have class size limits?
  • Do members receive a discount as part of paying annual dues?
  • Does your workshop include lunch (or other refreshments) that you will need to provide?

When looking at your overall budget plans for the workshop, remember that not all workshops will sell out. Plan your budgets at less than full capacity to be conservative.

Budgeting for expensesWhen looking at expenses for a workshop, think through all the costs needed to make the workshop happen. Some will come to mind initially (teacher fees, space rental fees, etc.) but also consider the cost of any food that you will provide and any supplies that will be used during the workshop, and of course the travel fees and per diems outlined in your instructor’s contract.

Sharing Workshop Details with Membership

When providing workshop details to participants, try to think about the things that you would like to know in taking the workshop. Having attendees in the class get what they think they are getting is important to have a happy and successful class. 

Some items that you might like to include when providing workshop information to participants:

  • A full class description – information about the teacher, skills taught, pattern required, supply or pattern fees payable to the instructor in addition to the workshop fee.
  • Payment schedule, including any deposits. What is your refund policy?
  • What food are you providing? Are you providing a full lunch or just drinks? What kind of food restrictions are you able to cater for, and are participants able to bring their own food if they cannot get food to meet their restrictions?
  • What materials and supplies will participants provide? What is a realistic estimate for the cost of supplies and materials, including any specific or specialty supplies?
  • How much prep work/cutting is required before the class?
  • How much work will be accomplished in class? Will most participants finish, or will there be a significant amount of work after class to finish?

Planning a Retreat

The first thing you want to do before starting to plan a retreat is to survey your guild regarding how many people will attend, and what type of experience is important to them.

Things to ask are:

  • How much are you willing to spend on a room rental?
  • How much are you willing to spend on a retreat fee?
  • What amenities are important to you? (gourmet food, great location, etc)
  • How far are you willing to travel?

Once you have a general idea of what your group wants, start looking for a venue that will accommodate you.

Contracting with a Venue

Finding the right venue can sometimes be difficult to do while balancing the expectations of everyone in your group, but remember that the main point of a retreat is to get away from the day-to-day and sew with your fellow guild members. There are venue options from hotels to retreat venues to off-season summer camps. Your survey will help narrow down what your group is looking to get out of their retreat.

If you are looking to contract with a hotel, you may want to consider extended-stay hotels such as Hyatt House or Homewood Suites. These venues typically have meeting rooms that are used during the week for business meetings but will rarely be used on the weekends because they aren’t considered “wedding destinations.” These venues will also generally have fridges and microwaves in the rooms to allow attendees to cut down on food costs while attending.

If you are looking to contract with a retreat center, conference center, or off-season camp, a simple Google search in your area can provide ideas. Local venues typically work independently from national chains.

Additionally, you will want to ensure the workspace of your attendees is acceptable. Are you covering the tables in linens, are they okay to be left as is, or do you want to cover them in brown craft paper so people can jot down notes?

Ammenities & Fun at Retreats

Make sure to talk with your hotel about any food or drink policy. Quilters love snacks, and some venues are fine with outside snacks, but some have a requirement to purchase any food through their catering services. Ask about the availability of an all-day beverage service such as a coffee or water station.

Depending on group interest, you can plan activities like a show & tell, shop hop, swap, or ice breaker. Appointing a “social coordinator” can be a great way to keep the energy up and fun going all weekend.

Giveaways are also great for retreats. Make sure to have a way to draw winners and have a plan. Do the winners get to choose whatever they want from a giveaway table? Or will the drawings be for specific prizes?

Helping Attendees Know What to Bring

This is a common question for retreat attendees, “what do I need to bring with me?” Obviously, you will need to bring your basic sewing supplies and any projects you want to work on. But you may want to remind attendees to bring:

  • A chair cushion
  • Task lamp
  • Irons
  • Ironing boards
  • Design walls
  • Extension cords or power strips
  • Additional cutting mats or rotary cutters

For items that are shared, make a sign-up list so you don’t have 15 people bringing ironing boards and no one bringing irons! You can organize these tasks on a Google Sheet, Google Form, or a program like SignUpGenius.

Collecting Funds for Workshops or Retreats

There are various ways that you can run sign-ups for workshops and retreats. If you are a smaller guild and have plenty of open spots, you may want to use a simple Google Form and accept payment via PayPal or check. Discuss in advance with your guild officers how you will collect payments, when, and what the refund policy will be. Some guilds collect a deposit; others require payment in full at the time of registration, perhaps with a sliding scale for refunds, or the ability to replace the participant with another person if the original attendee can’t make it.

Some guilds use the Eventbrite platform as a great resource. You can set up a private event so only people with the link can have access. You can also set up tickets to go live at a certain time and create a waitlist through the platform. Attendees know immediately if they got into the event, and you can track how well your event is doing.

Fees for Eventbrite are comparable to PayPal, but you should have some ability to take checks and cash if you have members who don’t wish to complete a transaction online.

Running a Quilt Show

It’s important to have realistic expectations when organizing a quilt show. A full-fledged independent quilt show usually requires a year or more of planning, and costs can easily go into the tens of thousands. A good way for newer guilds to test the waters is to put on a smaller-scale show or exhibition, rather than mounting a full-size show in a convention space.

If you are looking for a space to hold the show, consider partnering with local art or educational organization. Some art galleries allow their spaces to be used by nonprofits between commercial exhibitions. Outdoor events like fairs and farmers’ markets are also an option. You can also see if your local quilt shop, coffee shop, or library will let you hang a carefully curated exhibition. 

Consider the length of time that you would like the show to be open. Most shows won’t need to last more than a day or two. Don’t forget to account for the time of year. If you live in a beach town that’s known for its surf culture in June and July, February might not be a great time to try and draw a crowd.

When putting on an independent show, consider alternative venues. You don’t have to rent an expo hall or convention center. Consider a church or school with a large gymnasium or a venue with several smaller rooms or galleries. Quilts don’t all have to be within eyeshot of the entrance.

JUDGING

Not all shows have to be judged. With smaller shows especially, an exhibit-only event can encourage participation from those who might not be willing to have their quilt scrutinized by a professional.

A qualified judge can also be a rather large expense, especially if travel and lodging are involved. One option is to have someone from outside the quilting community judge the show — a local artist or celebrity perhaps. The downside here is that a non-expert can deter serious competitive quilters whose work might otherwise raise the overall quality of the show.

SPACING AND ENTRIES

Most shows offer quilters a number of categories or sections that exhibitors can place their quilts into. The more categories you have, the more prep work you must do, especially after receiving the quilts. It can also be confusing for attendees if quilts aren’t hung in a clear-cut order or signage isn’t obvious. One advantage to having several categories, though, is that it makes each one less competitive and could encourage submissions from hesitant quilters.

DECIDING WHO CAN ENTER QUILTS INTO THE QUILT SHOW

Consider who will be eligible to enter quilts into your show. Will the show be open to submissions only from guild members? A few local guilds? Anyone in the state or province? Your greater regional area? The entire country or continent? If you do accept entries from outside your immediate region, consider whether you are prepared and have the resources to accept and return entries by mail, or whether all entries will have to be dropped off or picked up in person.

Smaller contestant pools can encourage participation from those who might shy away from stiff competition, but also limits the interest level of outsiders. Even large guilds can only draw so many people if only member quilts are on display. A larger contestant pool also leads to better overall quality.

One option for guilds who aren’t quite ready to open the floodgates for entries is a youth category that’s judged separately, if at all. If nothing else, it’s a guaranteed bump in attendance as the parents and family of the quilters are likely to be guaranteed attendees.

ENTRY SUBMISSION

Consider how participants will submit an entry into the show. Will there be a submission fee? If the show is open to outsiders, will there be a discounted (or waived) fee for members?

Electronic submissions are generally ideal for juried shows. There are several different online tools and software available that vary greatly in price and quality. Research what suits your needs best. If the show isn’t juried, and especially if it’s only open to members, a hard copy form is usually fine.

Consider how you will keep track of the quilts to make sure that your electronic or paper records match the number of quilts that you accepted, and that each quilter receives back the quilt(s) that they submitted. Asking each quilter to sign a drop-off and pick-up record is a good idea, as is some form of identifying each quilt through a quilt number or code.

Storage can also be an issue if you are accepting quilts before the show is ready to be hung. Most groups will need a few days with the quilts prior to the show. If quilt intake is at a location other than the venue, storage for the meantime needs to be arranged, as well as transportation of the quilts to the show venue.

WHAT QUILT SHOW DETAILS DO I NEED TO THINK ABOUT?

To successfully put on a quilt show, many tasks will need to be done. Does your guild have enough members to perform the labor needed? Set up and take down can be especially difficult, as members who have full-time jobs may be able to volunteer on a weekend but may be reluctant to take on weekday tasks.

Most quilt shows have at least a handful of vendors, and this can be a major source of income and help you balance your budget. Longarm distributors especially love doing quilt shows, which generate a substantial portion of their customer base. Balance is key here, though. Attendees are there to see the show, and if the vendors outnumber the quilts they may not consider it worth the price of admission.

Charging attendees admission will offset some of the costs of putting on the show. If your show is in a public place like a quilt shop or farmers’ market, charging admission may be difficult because of the public nature of the space. If you’ve paid to rent a large expo hall, you’ll likely need to charge admission. The amount of money that you can charge should still be in balance with the size of the show. The largest national and international shows rarely charge more than about $25. Local and regional shows are usually in the $10 range, so be realistic when expecting members of the public to pay for admissions.


11. Local & Community Events

Having a presence at community events can be a great way to find other like-minded individuals who may not have known to look you up originally. Craft fairs, festivals, historical society events, and “first Friday” art events are great ways to get your group out there. As a non-profit, you may be eligible for discounted (or even waived) fees at community events. Check with your local chamber of commerce or have members recommend events that they may be interested in attending or have gone to previously. These types of events can function as a fundraiser for the guild as well. Check and see if the event allows sales. If so, it may be possible for members to sell their quilted items at these events, allowing the guild to charge a fee from the sales, or better yet, members could donate small quilted items for the guild to sell.

If you have a national quilt show/expo that comes to your area, contact the management of the show and see if they would be interested in having a guild exhibit in their shows or are looking for individuals to do special exhibits. 

Charitable Programs

Many guilds maintain healthy charity or service sewing programs to benefit their local community. Not only does this provide a fantastic outlet for quilts made for challenges or swaps, but it creates new opportunities for the guild to build connections to other local non-profit organizations.  

Things to consider:

  • Will you identify your receiving organizations in advance so quilts for charity are the appropriate size, theme (adult or child), etc.?
  • Will the quilts be given for comfort or used at an auction to raise money for the receiving organization?
  • Will your guild deliver quilts to an organization once yearly or on a rolling basis? If once per year, where are they stored?
  • Will you provide fabric, batting, and backing to members, or are they to donate from their own stash?

No matter how you answer these questions, sewing for others in need can foster a deeper sense of community within your guild.


12. FAQ’s

We know as your group grows and changes you might experience some growing pains. We’ve tried to think about some of the challenges we’ve encountered and see if we can help you through them. Even though members join a quilt guild from a common interest in modern quilting, all members don’t always see eye to eye.

Every guild will have conflict – small or large – arise from time to time. Depending on the type of problem, leaders should consult their guild by-laws or find other guild leaders who have dealt with similar situations.

Membership

What to do with a person who comes to meetings, but doesn’t want to become a member? 

Some guilds have found that some individuals want to come to meetings, but don’t want to become a dues-paying member of the group. 

Some thoughts to consider for your guild are things like: 

  • Do you have a visitor fee for meetings? 
  • Do you have a visitor fee for in-meeting speakers? 
  • Do you allow people to attend more than one non-speaker meeting as a guest? Some guilds have written into their bylaws that someone may only attend one meeting as a guest before becoming a member. 
  • Does the non-dues paying person receive any guild announcements? 
  • Can a non-member attend events like workshops? Retreats? Sew days?
  • Will you have different pricing for members and non-members? 
  • Will you allow members first access and priority registration for events? 

Having the guild’s policy on visitors written into the bylaws will make it easier and less personal to address an individual who needs to join or stop coming to meetings. 

What to do with a person who comes to meetings, but doesn’t want to become a member?

Some members who move away may still like to keep up with their original guild without being a paying member. 

Some things to consider are: 

  • Do you have an affiliate member level that allows for a smaller dues payment and event access at a different price?
  • Can these individuals stay in Facebook groups or email lists to continue to keep up with what is going on with the guild? 
  • Do these people receive any benefits since they are no longer members? 

Guild Coordination with Individual Members

A big part of the MQG is fostering a sense of community. But our thousands of Individual MQG members don’t always have the interaction with the larger community that you do through your monthly meetings. There may be times when you have extra space at a workshop or retreat; consider inviting Individual MQG members in your area to those events. You can work with the MQG by emailing info@themodernquiltguild.com and we will send an email on your behalf to individual members in your area. You can send it to every individual member in your state or every individual member in the city where you meet.

What do I do when a member moves into my guild from another guild or wants to join from being an individual member?

Each guild will probably encounter this, especially if you are starting a new guild. Someone joins the MQG as an individual member, and then finds your group and realizes that where you meet is closer than they thought, or your meeting time has now opened up in their schedule for them to be able to attend. 

  • Some guilds have chosen to assess a lower dues amount for people transferring from an individual membership.
  • Some subtract the dues amount that the member has already paid to the MQG from their dues.
  • Some assess the next tier down if they prorate dues.
  • Other guilds have a smaller dues payment for joining later in the year
  • Most ask members to pay the normal membership dues for the year. 

It is up to each guild to decide how this is handled. However, your board should have a plan before someone shows up wanting to transfer. 

As with all membership issues, you can reach out to other guilds in your area to see if they have addressed similar issues. You can also reach out to your MQG Regional Representative or the MQG staff.

Programming

Guilds often offer members activities to challenge them creatively — practice exercises, thematic projects and new ideas that will allow guild members to grow in both skill level and in their creative practice. To help board members choose projects, this section is separated into activities that require some work by members prior to the guild meeting, and those where there is no expectation that guild members participate. Guild leaders should try and balance the two types of activities — there may be many members who are consumed with busy jobs and families but would still like to participate in the fellowship and community that being part of a guild offers.

There are a few ways to keep track of your programming activities throughout the year. Some guilds plan out an entire year, while others look at smaller amounts of time. Some leaders have found it useful to have it laid out in a chart, and others use a word document. There are examples of both here: 

Activities Requiring Homework By Members Prior To Guild Meetings

Homework activities are projects that are announced in advance so that members can work on them at home over an assigned amount of time. Often, members are given themes, prompts, or ideas about items to sew, either for themselves or for others. These activities can be both creative and challenging. Many guilds find that the participants are excited to share and discuss what they’ve made and that non-participants are interested to see what is being shared. 

  • Swaps And Challenges
  • Block Lottery or Raffle
  • Quilt Olympics 
  • Fabric Exchange 
  • Bee Blocks
  • Round Robin

Activities Requiring No Work by Members (In-Meeting Activities)

Sometimes it’s nice for members to just show up at a meeting without having to worry about completing a lot of piecing or sewing prior to the meeting. The MQG generally attracts a wide cross-section of quilters, and while some will be busy with careers, others will be busy managing grandchildren. In any case, many of your members will appreciate a chance to sit back, become inspired, and learn from their fellow guild members.

A good first step can be to poll your guild via a survey or in-meeting discussion to determine what your members want to see and learn. This will provide a lot of good ideas and help to ensure you are scheduling things your guild is interested in. Part of the survey could also ask members what topics or skills they could share with the guild or specific suggestions for programming content.

  • Member Spotlights/Trunk Shows 
  • Book reports
  • My Favorite Quilting Tool (sharing by members)
  • Demonstrations (by members or professionals)
  • Non-machine sewing projects (a small project that does not require a sewing machine)
  • Ice Breakers 
  • Themed Meetings