Frequently Asked Questions

Below we have outlined some of the most often asked questions by potential members and coordinators.

We believe these points will answer a majority of your questions. After reading through everything, should you have subsequent questions, please feel free to follow-up. We are always here to help!

Did you know?

That FMPug supplies FileMaker with their user group data?

To ensure that you get the most up to date information both here and on FileMaker.com we worked with FileMaker to provide them all user group data from every group around the world. And just like the rest of FMPug.com all the data comes from our FileMaker databases and is delivered using the FileMaker PHP API.

 

How it all started

FMPug was co-founded by Andy Gaunt and Heather Dunwoody in the Spring of 2004. Its original purpose was to offer a “centralized” destination for other local FM groups and to provide detailed information of the goings-on at the Central Florida Group. It quickly outgrew its Central Florida roots and spread across the globe.

The rationale behind the ‘Pug ' (as it is referred), was to develop a true syndicate of FileMaker Pro user and developer groups nationwide. Prior to FMPug, user and developer groups were (and continue to be) scattered here and there, with no ties, no means of communication between and amongst the groups and no ability to leverage collectively against their membership base. Andy came up with the idea to create a more unified FM user community, to create a group where benefits abound for its members, contributors and sponsors. It was the hope that by creating such a collective, it would thereby strengthen the FM community as a whole. And with Heather's help, the idea began to take hold.

In the nearly five years since its founding, FMPug has become the largest consortium of FileMaker User Groups world-wide. There are upwards of thirty groups (and counting) that span the globe. FMPug is fortunate to include amongst its members business owners, managers, computer professionals, corporate officers, educators, medical professionals, consultants, illustrators, administrators, graphic artists, to name only a few. The group continues to grow not only in its numbers, but it is swiftly becoming the premier user group connection to all things FileMaker and beyond. Leading companies in the training, technical and graphics fields have generously donated products and services to the FMPug chapters, providing a not-to-be-believed draw for new and existing members.

As FMPug continues to evolve, so too do the ideas, notions, dreams and possibilities. Andy and Heather look forward to keeping FMPug at the top of her game!

How do I join?

There are a couple of ways to begin benefitting from all that FMPug has to offer: You may either join an existing chapter, as a Chapter Member, join as a Virtual Member, or start your own as a Chapter Coordinator. Though a majority of our chapters are within the U.S, the international chapters are growing at a steady pace. But we can't unite the planet if we don't reach every corner of it first! Please see below to learn about searching for an existing chapter or starting your own. To learn more about the details of becoming a member, please visit http://fmpug.com/join.php to view the choices.

How do I find a chapter in my area?

To search for a chapter in your area, please visit http://fmpug.com/chapters.php. This list is completely inclusive and includes all known FileMaker-related user and developer groups based on geographic location. (The list does includes groups not directly affiliated with FMPug.) If there is a group available in your area, you will be presented with the Chapter name, the schedule (if published), their contact information and whether or not they are open to new members. If a chapter is open to new members, please contact that chapter directly. If it is not, you may want to begin your own chapter.

Is membership required before attending an FMPug Chapter meeting?

Membership is NEVER required to attend or participate in local meetings. However it must be said that membership does have its privileges! By joining FMPug as an official member you open yourself to all the benefits that FMPug has to offer, which includes discounts, products and reviews, learning and sharing on RealTech -- the benefits continue to grow year after year. Perhaps most importantly, as a Chapter member, a portion of your dues directly supports your local Chapter and only Chapter members are eligible to win giveaways and prizes raffled at local meetings.

Since inception, FMPug has awarded well over $800,000 in prizes ranging from laptops, conference passes, plug-ins, training, hosting, remote storage, the list goes on and on! Additionally, in excess of 90% of members report utilizing one or more discounts available through FMPug before purchasing a product. The benefits are unique to FMPug and something that truly enables the organization to stand out from the crowd. The entire concept behind FMPug offers something truly valuable to the FileMaker community.

To read about the two types of membership and what each has to offer, please visit http://fmpug.com/join.php.

What if there isn't a chapter in my local area?

Well, you have two choices, either join FMPug as a Virtual Member or take the plunge and begin your own Pug following as a Chapter Coordinator. To read the differences between the types, please visit http://fmpug.com/join.php.

If you believe you may be interested in beginning your own Chapter, there are details about how to get started listed here. Bottom line, there is no set and established way to do it. You don't even have to be a FileMaker guru – some chapters are started by FileMaker beginners. Being part of FMPug is merely a way to provide a friendly and informal atmosphere for the exchange of resources and general information on FileMaker or other areas of related interest. If you have a question or problem, the odds are that someone in the group has had the same question or problem in the past, and can help. Users and developers of all levels of expertise, from first-time users to people with 10+ years of experience interact for the benefit of all, and have a good time doing it!

If you wish to register a chapter, please go to http://fmpug.com/join.php, and tell us where the next ‘Pug' will land!

As a Chapter Coordinator, are there any rules?

There are no official edicts set forth by FMPug for the individual Chapters, which makes each Chapter unique. Typically the Chapter Coordinators work with FMPug Heaquarters to garner press, administrative support and we do work collectively to arrange speaker tours. Though nothing is written in stone, we do have some rather strong suggestions, the first of which is regarding FileMaker. Of course, to be an "FMPugger", one should at the very least be slightly interested in the application to keep up the spirit and purpose of the (dis)organization. This does not mean you must be an expert. In fact, we welcome “newbies”, veritable experts and those who may merely be “interacting” with the application. The more the merrier! The second suggestion has to do with group giveaways. From time to time, speakers and/or FMPug headquarters will arrange select giveaways for the Chapters. In these instances we do require these prizes be awarded to official Chapter members - this has more to do with overall morale of the Chapter than anything else. It is after all the Chapter members who contribute their support to the Chapter and it offers those persons the opportunity to be rewarded for that support.

What are the benefits of being an "official" FMPug chapter?

Whether you are choosing to begin a totally brand new group, or you're considering transferring an existing group, as an FMPug Chapter Coordinator, the administrative headaches associated with running a chapter are completely eliminated! Through FMPug you have a built-in web presence with a strong following (FMPug directly supplies the User Group information listed on FileMaker Inc), built-in advertising and marketing, a system that supports meeting RSVPs, captures previous attendees, an area to manage localized announcements, a blog where meeting notes may be highlighted, polls may be organized and tallied, and the best part -- it's all within your control! The FMPug Admin panel enables you to manage the schedule, the information, the frequency and everything in between. FMPug also recognizes choosing to be a Chapter Coordinator is one rooted in passion, but to help with the costs associated with that passion, FMPug routes $40 per Chapter member directly back to you, the local Coordinator.

Are there any responsibilities for Chapter members?

The main responsibility is to have fun! Being part of FMPug is merely a way to provide a friendly and informal atmosphere for the exchange of resources and general information on FileMaker or other areas of related interest. If you have a question or problem, the odds are that someone in the group has had the same question or problem in the past, and can help. Users and developers of all levels of expertise, from first-time users to people with 10+ years of experience interact for the benefit of all, and have a good time doing it! We want your meetings to be informative, productive and fun! Of course, someone needs to plan the events or they would never happen, but oftentimes members take turns with the Chapter Coordinator(s) so that they do not become "jobs" for anyone.

Is FMPug really all about FileMaker?

Well yes and no. Of course, to be an FMPugger, one should at the very least be slightly interested in the application to keep up the spirit and purpose of the (dis)organization. However, since FM is a database application, it has the ability to interact with many, many other products and applications. A majority of our members use a countless number of products, FileMaker being only one in their application arsenal. Therefore, FMPug has never been nor will ever be restricted to only FileMaker. In fact many of the previous giveaways have covered applications specifically geared toward graphics, web design and illustration. Many of the “Pug Perks” span well beyond the realm of FileMaker as well. If you think FMPug may be the perfect fit, check out the local chapters and hit the next meeting in your area.

Is FMPug a non-profit organization?

FMPug is NOT a non-profit organization. Membership fees are considered taxable income. However, membership fees DO go to pay office expenses and enable the Headquarters team to dedicate their time to making the ‘Pug' shine. As yet, the "dooze," as we affectionately call them, haven't come close to covering daily operating costs.

FMPug abides by all tax laws within the state of Florida and files (estimated) quarterly income tax returns with the IRS. It does not have non-profit tax exemption status.

When is membership required?

Membership is NEVER required to attend a local Chapter meeting. However it must be said that membership does have its privileges! By joining FMPug as an official member you open yourself to all the benefits that FMPug has to offer, which includes discounts, products and reviews, learning and sharing on RealTech -- the benefits continue to grow year after year. Perhaps most importantly, as a Chapter member, a portion of your dues directly supports your local Chapter and only Chapter members are eligible to win giveaways and prizes raffled at local meetings.

Since inception, FMPug has awarded well over $800,000 in prizes ranging from laptops, conference passes, plug-ins, training, hosting, remote storage, the list goes on and on! Additionally, in excess of 90% of members report utilizing one or more discounts available through FMPug before purchasing a product. The benefits are unique to FMPug and something that truly enables the organization to stand out from the crowd. The entire concept behind FMPug offers something truly valuable to the FileMaker community.

To read about the two types of membership and what each has to offer, please visit http://fmpug.com/join.php.

What are the membership fees and other monies used for?

FMPug continues to grow beyond anyone's expectations, and we are all thrilled! The dues which we collect are used to run our office core. Any/all fees that we raise go directly back into the day-to-day operations, to pay for FMPug upkeep, this includes but is not limited to:

  • Site Programming -- Ongoing changes/updates, editing, copywriting, graphic design, publishing, printing
  • Communication – Answering emails, making phone calls to drum-up contributions, working with Coordinators, newsletter creation etc
  • Postage
  • Printing
  • Advertising
  • Local Chapter reimbursement/allotment
  • Server space, maintenance and site hosting fees
  • Telephones: Service, multiple lines, cell phones (gotta be mobile)
  • Outside Professional Services: Legal & Bookkeeping
  • Hardware: Computers, monitors, printers
  • Office furniture: Filing cabinets, chairs, desks, shelving, fax, etc
  • Utilities
  • Taxes
  • Brownie Ingredients ( Orlando only)

Some “Puggers” have suggested that we use volunteer help. Unfortunately, the endeavor has grown far, far too labor-intensive and complicated for that to be feasible. Besides, we would need volunteers who are highly skilled at everything from graphic design to copywriting. There are very few people who would volunteer full-time for jobs this demanding. At least, we haven't found any who stick around.

What do the members "get" for their membership dues?

We provide the “Pug Upkeep” as detailed above, to be able to keep FMPug one-step ahead, to ensure we will not only attract new members, but retain the old. We provide help to those having trouble finding or starting chapters or requiring other assistance, and to send out newsletters, general emails, etc. But there is much more to it than that...

FMPug calls itself a "disorganization", and we are proud of our lack of formalized rules and by-laws. With each chapter we are helping to develop an enormous network of like-minded users and developers, thereby helping to strengthen the FM Community as a whole. We have also discovered a mission of sorts: to gain higher visibility for our Contributors & Sponsors as well as our members. We are all familiar with radical groups of the past, which stridently sought to achieve their agendas. Well, we are decidedly UN-strident, but we hope to advance our agenda with good humor, a few laughs and hopefully with admiration and esteem. If we do not join together under the banner of FMPug, but rather remain as separate, isolated, unconnected groups – that will not happen. Therefore we are working to build a disorganization within which we can all connect and eventually unite the world, one group at a time!

Now, if that hasn't answered your question, by joining FMPug as an official member you open yourself to all the benefits that FMPug has to offer. The benefits include discounts, products and reviews, learning and sharing on RealTech -- and continue to grow year after year. What's more. every Chapter member directly supports their local chapter.

Since inception, FMPug has awarded well over $800,000 in prizes ranging from laptops, conference passes, plug-ins, training, hosting, remote storage, the list goes on and on! Additionally, in excess of 90% of members report utilizing one or more discounts available through FMPug before purchasing a product. The benefits are unique to FMPug and something that enables the organization to stand out from the crowd. The entire concept behind FMPug offers something truly valuable to the FileMaker community. We believe membership is worth every last penny and the growth of our membership keeps us working that much harder for our members.

Please see http://fmpug.com/join.php to read what you gain as being a member of the FMPug family.

Who is in a User Group, who is in your group?

User groups are one of the best resources available to any user, as they put the technical community in touch with itself and unite the people that have passion for their chosen application, product, etc.

Among user group members you'll find all kinds of users from the “newbie” (a.k.a. beginner), all the way up to advanced programmers and geeks. ("Geek" is an endearing term for someone who lives, breathes and sleeps computers, and/or technical anything and everything. Geeks are generally programmers and advanced users who can tell you how to do anything on your computer from turning it on to reconditioning the mother board, modding an XBox, to hacking a person's email account.) Some of the most helpful and knowledgeable computer experts you'll find are in user groups. These are people who enjoy sharing their experience and advice.

As far as FMPug, we are fortunate to include amongst its members business owners, managers, computer professionals, corporate officers, educators, medical professionals, consultants, illustrators, administrators, graphic artists and a smattering of geeks. Being part of FMPug is merely a way to provide a friendly and informal atmosphere for the exchange of resources and general information on FileMaker or other areas of related interest. If you have a question or problem, the odds are that someone in the group has had the same question or problem in the past, and can help. Users and developers of all levels of expertise, from first-time users to people with 10+ years of experience interact for the benefit of all, and have a good time doing it!

If you think FMPug may be the perfect fit, even if you're not sure, check out the local chapters and hit the next meeting in your area – keep in mind attending a local Chapter is ALWAYS FREE!

Why do you charge membership dues?

Since its inception in Spring 2004, FMPug exploded onto the scene, growing from one lone group in Central Florida to well over thirty groups (and growing) all-over the world! This incredible influx of new groups forced us to look at how we could not only manage the current growth, but secure plans for the future and strengthen FMPug's unique edge – for its members and Coordinators.

In order to continue to keep the ‘Pug' at the top of her game, we decided to institute membership dues. The dues enable our Headquarters team to allocate more time toward Pug related endeavors – securing more Contributors, Sponsors and Speakers, rounding-up more great prizes, introducing great new benefits and making FMPug.com a well-oiled machine. With all our grandiose notions and no trust fund to fall back on, we knew in order to make our dreams a reality we would need to introduce the proverbial collection basket. By allocating more time to the cause, it is our goal to increase awareness, strengthen the bonds already in place and build an even more diverse network to share with new and existing ‘Pug' chapters world-wide. We are truly excited about the future of FMPug, we look forward to stretching FMPug to its very limits.

For more information regarding membership dues, please reference the various questions under this FAQ outline.

How much are your membership dues?

For a full description of the membership offerings and their respective prices, please visit http://fmpug.com/join.php. If you figure everything out, the monthly breakdown costs about the same amount to hit the local McDonald's, Burger King or other fast-food haunt for ONE (1) MEAL . We truly believe our membership dues are worth their Super-Sized weight in gold – and a LOT better for you to boot!

When are the dues, due?

If there is a Chapter located in or around your area, feel free to drop-in for the next meeting. Membership is NEVER required to attend a local meeting and meetings are open to anyone and everyone who may be interested in FileMaker. After attending a meeting or two, if you are interested in joining that Chapter, you are welcome to join at any time.

Upon joining, your membership is valid for one (1) year from sign-up. Reminder emails will be sent to the email on file when your membership is close to expiration.

When and how do I pay?

Simply visit http://fmpug.com/join.php to register.

Just as with any other online transaction, you have the option to pay via credit or debit card. Should your payment method be declined, an email will be sent to the address on file prompting you to log-in and change your payment details. If subsequent payment(s) cannot be processed, your FMPug Membership will be promptly cancelled and an email will be sent alerting you to the change in status.

Please keep in mind you have the right to cancel your membership at any time. Upon cancellation, your FMPug Membership will be terminated and no further dues will be charged. Unfortunately, this process is automated and dues already processed are non-refundable

Can I write my Coordinator a check or pay him/her cash to cover the dues?

We have done our very best to take the path of least resistance, and automate the aspects of FMPug that can be automated; membership dues being one of them. Therefore, we kindly request all dues be paid via our online link. By doing so, your details are recorded, your membership is generated and payment is processed – all automatically, and better yet, instantaneously! There is little room for error, no risk to you, our member and no wait time. We believe it is the best, most efficient and most secure way to process payments, for us, and for you.

Please Note: For you own protection, if payments are not processed via the online link, FMPug CANNOT be responsible for the instatement of Membership status nor can FMPug assume responsibility of monies deposited.

I'm already a Chapter Member, can I visit other groups (outside my local group)?

Absolutely! As a Chapter Member, there is 100% reciprocity with other Chapter locales, no matter where you travel. Chapter meetings are FREE to anyone who wishes to attend. However by being a member, this does entitle you to entry in any giveaways and/or prizes

Chapter Coordinator FAQs

The Nitty-Gritty

Basic Steps to Beginning as a Chapter Coordinator

• As a Chapter Coordinator the largest benefit of being affiliated with FMPug is the elimination of many of the administrative headaches typically associated with running a user group. Through FMPug you have a built-in web presence with a strong following, built-in advertising and marketing, a system that supports meeting RSVPs, captures previous attendees, an area to manage localized announcements, a blog where meeting notes may be highlighted, polls may be organized and tallied, and the best part -- it's all within your control! The FMPug Admin panel enables you to manage the schedule, the information, the frequency and everything in between. FMPug also recognizes choosing to be a Chapter Coordinator is one rooted in passion, but to help with the costs associated with that passion, FMPug routes $40 per Chapter member directly back to you, the local Coordinator.

• From a legal aspect, to be considered for a Chapter Coordinator, you must be at least 18 years of age and be (at the very least) acquainted with FileMaker. We don't require you to be an expert on everything FileMaker, however you should (at the very least) want to learn more about the ins-and-outs since you are signing-up to lead a group pertaining mainly to FileMaker. Another key point, if you are uncomfortable with group speaking or simply don't enjoy hearing your own voice, then Chapter Coordination may not be something for you. Being a Chapter Coordinator can be demanding but it can also be very rewarding. As a Coordinator you are automatically regarded as a resource within your local FileMaker community, which for many of our Coordinators has proven to be a sizable benefit when it comes to professional networking. Additionally, one can never disregard the educational benefits of a strong user group, no matter how experienced you may be in your respective field -- it is amazing what one can learn by simply "comparing notes"!

• If you are sincerely interested in beginning your own FMPug Chapter, we require you sign-up with PayPal and allow enough time to be “Verified”. Although NOT required, we prefer your account be established under your business vs. you as an individual -- this obviously only applies to those who own their own company. If you are already a member with PayPal, you must also be “Verified”, therefore we ask you complete the necessary steps with PayPal directly.

• As a Chapter Coordinator, you will be entitled to $40 per Chapter (CP) member enrolled . This money is to assist/offset your personal out-of-pocket costs associated with running the group. PayPal is the method by which FMPug will transfer funds and you will need an active account on-file for the above referenced transactions to take place.

• This account will need to be active and “Verified” prior to Chapter enrollment being completed (see below).

• Register at FMPug.com as a Chapter Coordinator. Once your Chapter and Membership details are processed, an email will be sent to the address on file providing you the ability to log-in to the Member's section and subsequently access the Administration area where you will have the ability to post the initial details and down the road manage your members, meeting RSVPs, announcements and post to your Chapter blog. It is our goal to relieve many of the admin hassles associated with managing a group. We sincerely want to help you “hit the ground running” and get your meetings started in style!

• As a Chapter Coordinator you are automatically enrolled as a Virtual Member to share in all the incredible benefits of membership. As a Virtual Member , you will be subject to the standard Terms of Service applicable to a member of FMPug.

• As a Chapter Coordinator, you are responsible for securing your meeting locale.

Though a majority of meetings are held in one location, it may add a bit of interest to the group by alternating locales. A few groups hold their meetings in more “public domains” such as:

• Library meeting rooms

• Science or art museums/centers

• Local schools, community colleges and/or universities

• Residential clubhouses

• Company board rooms (where Coordinator is owner/employee or is acquainted with owner)

• Restaurants

• Banquet/meeting halls

These locales are typically free or “low rent” depending on the scheduled agreement. The downside of some of these spaces (and is something you should consider in advance) is you are at the mercy of their respective closing time. Many times the meetings just get underway and you are forced to wrap-up. Not the ideal scenario. It is imperative you consider their hours of operation before scheduling your meeting time. Closing times aside, many of our groups find these arrangements work rather well.

A number of our other groups have worked-out a win-win proposition by holding their groups in a local (related) retailer or store. In these types of circumstances, the business owner opens their store exclusively to FMPug members and prospects. ‘Puggers' are invited to arrive a bit early where they can browse the store's merchandise and subsequently purchase (certain) products at a discount. This provides “free” advertising for the store and enables the Coordinator to use the space for their meeting. If you don't already have a meeting locale in mind, scout out local computer/technical (Apple, PC, Computer Component, Software and/or Computer repair) stores. Generally, small(er) retailers are very amenable to such arrangements since everyone stands to “win” a little something.

• Make your meeting date and time “official” by publishing all applicable meeting details (available through your FMPug Administration panel). Meeting details will be posted under the Chapter section of FMPug as well as your local sub-domain. Enough allotted time between meeting announcement and the first meeting is required to ensure announcements, giveaways, products, materials etc can be received by you, the Coordinator (where applicable). For all new groups, FMPug works directly with FileMaker Inc to issue press releases on your behalf in addition to announcements to local members and posts on the various lists/forums. Obviously this press is to garner a significant amount of interest straight-away.

• Materials may be sent from FMPug headquarters as well as from Contributors directly – therefore, we recommend a 2+ week notice. If sufficient notice is not given, we cannot guarantee material receipt.

• Invite co-workers, friends, and acquaintances. Attendees are responsible for bringing their own laptop (if preferred).

• Post your meeting details everywhere and anywhere you believe they will garner local interest. The local Apple store is a fantastic place to start. Since FMPug does many of the "global" announcements on your behalf, it is best to communicate with FMPug BEFORE posting additional messages/announcements -- this is to avoid duplicate or double posts.

• Secure applicable presentation equipment – Projector, Screen etc

• Though it may seem terribly obvious, ensuring any/all equipment is compatible with one another can prevent a really big and embarrassing headache come meeting time. Therefore, we suggest a dry-run just to be safe!

• Read through other Chapter meetings, read the respective Chapter blogs, etc. -- there may be some great thought starters for you to use.

• Another seemingly obvious point, don't forget to include details about who you are, your background and to “advertise” your meeting sponsor/speaker (if applicable). (We look at it as a “more you give, more you'll get” kind of situation.)

• In order to field questions with ease, be sure to acquaint yourself with FMPug Membership details, Pug Perks etc

• Start thinking about food and beverages. This being the most important suggestion : It simply “ain't” an FMPug meeting without food and bevvies!

• Nothing says you can't openly solicit help in this area. When posing meeting details, state attendees are welcome to bring food, drink, their wallets etc. If there are restrictions (i.e. no alcoholic beverages), these details should be present as well.

• Capturing attendee details, it's not just important...it's MISSION CRITICAL! Capturing any/all attendee details covers three purposes – drawing(s), future member communication and verification. It may be best to capture these details yourself (face-to-face) for the first few meetings to acquaint yourself with the people - it gives you a great excuse to start a bit of chit-chat. Approaching someone one-on-one also helps to break the ice and makes it a bit more personal. Keep in mind you want to empathize (again and again) that attendees MUST RSVP via FMPug in the future, this enables you to manage your meetings with greater ease, especially when there is food and/or limited meeting space involved! Many Coordinators (especially in the beginning), choose to also implement a sign-in sheet at the meeting. How you choose to capture this information is purely up to you and your comfort level. The greater amount of information you capture upfront, the easier it will be to keep those attendees "in the loop" down the road. You will find obtaining member & prospective member information is absolutely vital to the overall process! Details should include but not be limited to:

• Meeting Date & Meeting Locale (filled-in by you)

• First and Last Name

• Business Name

• Business Address

• Title

• Email(s)

• Phone – Business & Mobile

• How did you hear?

• 1st time visitor?

• Future meeting suggestions?

• Interested in speaking?

• The more prospective members that are captured, the greater number that may (hopefully) convert to Chapter memberships. The end result? The greater number of members, directly influences the power FMPug has in securing member benefits from outside companies (a.k.a. Contributors and Sponsors) thereby making FMPug even more enticing to new, as well as existing members -- yourself included! Experience has shown us that speakers want to hit groups with consistently higher attendance and Chapter Members historically attend on a more regular and consistent basis than non members. We believe it has a great deal to do with the fact Chapter members have a vested interest in the group itself. Perhaps even more importantly, $40 per member (annually) is routed directly back to support your endeavors as a Coordinator.

Important Note: Our Member information is kept private. As a Chapter Coordinator, you are required to abide by the same Privacy Policy as set forth by FMPug.

• It is only at your inaugural meeting where EVERY attendee is eligible to win door prizes, giveaways and enter into drawings etc. After your 1st meeting, only registered Chapter Members are eligible for such benefits. (All members, RSVPs, etc will be available to you through the Administration panel.) It is after all the Chapter members who contribute their support to the Chapter and it offers those persons the opportunity to be rewarded for that support.

• Normally, persons attending their 1st meeting are ineligible for prizes and/or giveaways, unless they sign-up BEFORE the physical drawing.

• After your monthly meeting, it is up to you, the Chapter Coordinator, to issue follow-ups to new attendees. Email templates are available, please contact us for a sample. To keep your group top-of-mind, we recommend this follow-up be sent within a week of the meeting

• To ensure attendees receive updates, news and other information, their details should be entered by you via the Admin Panel.

• As time progresses, your chapter may reach “maximum capacity” and the Chapter may be closed to new members. We ask that you please update your Chapter as needed. Newcomers will inevitably be looking to the details posted on the site as the most up-to-date information regarding your Chapter. Though FMPug Headquarters will send periodic reminders, it is ultimately your responsibility to submit changes, updates and other pertinent information directly through.

• We ask that you please respond to any direct inquiries in a timely manner. Should you require additional assistance with membership, follow-up, have a suggestion or two -- we're here for you. Just let us know!

• Use this web site to meet and get to know other FMPug chapters around the world. In addition to the Member's Only and Administrative areas, there is a special bulletin board hosted by FMForums.com dedicated to all things FMPug and beyond. It's accessible to anyone and everyone who may be interested. If nothing else, FMForums.com is an incredible resource to anyone “into” FileMaker and its applications.

But most of all, enjoy yourself!

As a new(er) Chapter Coordinator, here are some answers to questions specific to managing a user group

What kinds of events do chapters usually have?

Due to work schedules, weeknight meetings are the most popular. However, there are zero restrictions on how, when or where your meetings should be held. We are all for solidarity and building bonds between you and the group members. If want to plan additional or unique meetings on weekends or seasonal meet-ups as the holidays approach, more power to you! The bottom line, make the meetings your own and most importantly, have fun doing it!

How often should the chapter meet?

It truly depends on the meeting space you have secured and your general inclination. It has been our experience that a “preferred” chapter size hovers somewhere between 20-25 attending members. Now, you could feasibly have 60+ members on the books, but the attending number is where it can get a bit hairy. On average only 33% of members will RSVP on a consistent basis and only 30% will in actuality show. Again, empathizing RSVPing is critical but you'll always run into the "human" factor which will inevitably result in numbers that exceed or fall short of your RSVPs. Typically, chapters larger than 20-30 attending members can grow too cumbersome for a single person to manage effectively, meeting space may increasingly be too confined and difficult to address. That being said, if your meeting space can handle larger groups (i.e. an auditorium and/or meeting hall) and more importantly, you feel comfortable, the sky's the limit!

If your chapter does in fact grow too big, encourage the “overflow” to begin another group. You can still bring together the various groups for larger more collaborative events.

How should I plan chapter events? Are there pitfalls to avoid?

When it comes to the actual planning, the meeting format is at your discretion. However, as the meetings progress, it often proves advantageous to inquire with members if they would be interested in presenting their solutions and/or speak on a particular topic. This can be addressed by a localized announcement (again this is why it is critical to capture the ongoing attendees) via the FMPug Admin panel. You'll be surprised at the number of members who are untapped resources when it comes to unique approaches and/or insight into developer know-how. Furthermore, members tend to gain the greatest amount of knowledge from fellow members. Some of the best and most productive meetings are meetings that revolve around sharing solutions. A meeting doesn't require a formal speaker to be considered worthwhile. In fact, the largest number of complaints stem from groups that limit their meetings to "speaker-driven" events, where attendee interaction is discouraged. A user group is as much about networking and comparing notes as it is about educational lectures -- that's what makes them so valuable! When it comes to development, variety is truly key. You can have a single question approached and answered five different ways, not one way is better than the next. It's all about the sharing of knowledge and expertise with fellow users and developers.

In terms of actual meeting organization, many chapter members are beginning to assist Coordinators by taking turns or assisting with meeting preparations. If you need help, don't be shy – throw your weight around. All kidding aside, members are more often very willing helpers.

Should we choose officers?

Again, how you ultimately choose to organize your Chapter is completely up to you. Going back to the size of your group, for more sizeable groups electing or appointing Officers may significantly help when preparing, organizing and conducting the actual meetings.

Is it required that I "sell" or "push" FMPug membership to my attendees?

The short answer...no. But at the end of the day, why wouldn't you at least outline the perks? After all, the benefits offered to paid Chapter members will not only prove beneficial to your attendees personally and/or professionally, but also to you as a Coordinator. Any way you look at it, it's a win-win! Four years of meetings taking place all over the globe has shown us a few things about the upside of a positive approach:

• Coordinators that outline the benefits of membership from the get-go (and remain consistent) have on average a much larger local member base

• That larger member base translates directly to a more "loyal" audience -- the paid members RSVP regularly, they attend (after RSVP'ing), and they promote....you (and your group)

• That promotion, or word of mouth to their co-workers, clients, etc works to keep the group growing over time

• The larger your member base, the greater amount of their money helps you to offset your own costs.

• Coordinators with larger member bases also report their members are more "involved" in the overall process than attendees. Members are more likely to contribute their ideas, their time and their assistance to the group -- another HUGE advantage to a Coordinator.

Over the years we've had the opportunity to speak to a fair number of local Chapter members spanning each of the coasts here in the U.S and as far reaching as Japan....what we heard is that paid members feel a sense of pride of ownership, they are part of something, it's "their" meeting too. But what's even more interesting is the percentage of those members who have benefitted outside of the meetings themselves

• 90% of our members have reported using one or more of the discounts available through FMPug

• 1 out of every 4 FMPug members (since 2005) have won something by simply being a member, and

• those same members find their membership valuable enough to renew -- in four years we have an average renewal rate of nearly 98%

After all, a great group is as much about the attendees as it is about the Coordinator. When you have people who are enthused, people who are willing to contribute, they are an invaluable asset to any group. The bottom line, we only ask that you educate your attendees about FMPug, about the inherent benefits not only to them, but to your local group. We know when membership is addressed consistently and matter of factly, the end result is a benefit to everyone!

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