Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Real world numismatic promotion ideas



There is a lot of talk floating around about how to get people my age (34) and younger interested in numismatics. When I say "talk" what I mean is questions. There are not a lot of ideas being offered up to answer those questions. It's like everyone sees the problem but no one wants to, or is capable of, thinking beyond the boundaries of how things were done in the 1980's. It's maddening! But, I refuse to believe we are a hobby completely populated by shruggers. In the interest of doing my part, here are some ideas to promote numismatics in the real world (not online).


Start a Free Coin Club

Why do coin clubs have membership fees? I realize coin clubs need money if they are going to be anything beyond a place to hang out, but why not make like a church and ask for donations later? Also, fund raising isn't just for class trips, grown ups can do it, too. And what's with the hierarchy and titles? Is any of that necessary? President, VP, Secretary, Treasure, etc,. Titles open the door to politics and politics have a way of ruining groups that originally had noble intentions.

How about a coin club where membership is free, people donate money, time, and stuff as needed, it holds a quarterly coin auction where only current members can buy and sell (keeping a 5% or so fee split evenly [2.5% buyer's premium and 2.5% sellers fee]) to fund club business, holds a monthly meeting that always contains a numismatic topic for discussion, and has a Facebook page or group where members can interact. All club business is left to a simple majority vote, and that happens only when the group is divided on an issue. Leading the club meeting would rotate among the members.

Talk at a Library

Libraries like to host informational talks and discussions, so why not offer to give one? And pick a topic that will actually put meat in the seats. Beginners do not want to hear a lecture on VAMs. Hell, I don't want to hear a lecture on VAMs and I already find numismatics interesting. But a lecture on error coins that I could actually find in my pocket and that are worth more than face value, now you're talking! (Pun intended.)

A talk about how coins are made might draw a decent crowd. The U.S. Mint has material available for free about their process and coins in general. Give a look. If there is a topic you know a lot about or find interesting, why not become the local expert?

Parades

Get some members from your coin club, or just some coin pals, to march in a parade. Throw together a banner that says... well, what you want! Your situation will dictate what the banner says.

Here is the fun part: Instead of tossing candy, hand out coins in cardboard 2x2s. You can get wheat pennies for $0.05 each. Put those in a $0.02 cardboard flips and you have handouts that cost under $0.10 each. The flips will need to have something written or stamped on them, some location for people to check out. A website makes the most sense since anyone can get there from pretty much anywhere.

The point of this idea is to get coins into non-collector hands and get people wondering what else is out there. 

Put Old Coins into Circulation

I know, I know, those are your coins. So what? We're doing this for the greater good!

Release some of your older common coins back into circulation. Once that is done, tell your local news paper and radio stations that you did it. See if there are any local Facebook groups and post about it. The goal is to raise awareness of the hobby. Plus, imagine what finding a Buffalo Nickel (even if it's dateless) would do to a kid. Set those imagination gears in motion and a handful of those children will want to learn more. Adults too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Coin clubs have membership fees because...
Indemnity Insurance
Venue Hire
Newsletters
Websites and advertising
Refreshments
Membership to other clubs and societies
Library purchases

Coin clubs have titles because...
there are roles that need to be performed and a lot of this takes place in the background, between the meetings; Someone needs to do all the banking, prepare the paperwork for audits, write cheques and make sure we don't go into debt, that's the treasurer.

Someone has to deal with the council and act as a liaison between the club and the venue hirers, settle disputes between members and decide what the plan for the year is going to be, make the decision on how much to spend on advertising etc.

VP of a coin club with less than 50 members is not something that is done for political motivations, it is something that is done because it needs to be done and someone needs to take responsibility for doing it, otherwise it doesn't get done, people get busy, things get in the way and coin club business is pretty low down on the priority list.

Our club raises money by having a $20 annual membership fee, a $2 door fee, raffles and a tender night where 10% goes to the club. Auctions need a licensed auctioneer so we don't run them. We also produce commemorative club medals which are sold to members and other clubs.

We give away bags of world coins to kids at local events, all donated by members who volunteer their time at these events.

We attend coin shows where we put on displays and promote the club, we volunteer to help run the coin shows to increase our presence.

Those last two activities have maybe brought half a dozen people to the club over the past few years, and none of them were new to the hobby, just new to the club.

Membership is steady, some leave, a few join etc. but at 45, I am the youngest member. I don't think that the $20 a year membership is putting people off collecting. The relevance of coins in young peoples' lives is dropping off, the same as the phonecard and stamp hobby. As coins are less used in transactions then our connection to them is less relevant.