I once received an Email from someone wanting to create a wine organization: “How did you organize PS I Love You, as there are some wineries in this state that I just moved to [not California] that would like to start an association for a particular hybrid that grows here?”
Answer: Start with passion, build with patience, and be willing to throw yourself into it, which means that you’re going to have to give yourself away. Finally, find a way to live within a shoe-string budget… This is very much like giving birth to a child. Although it doesn’t have a body, it has an extension of your soul.
This is not the first time I’ve been asked about organizations, as I’ve been an organizer since the time I started a club in my neighborhood when I was about 12. By the time I was 23, I has hired to set the curriculum and then be the director of a school. By the time I was 35, I was the director of Androscoggin Girl Scout Day Camp, with 200 kids to keep busy and happy. (I was the only one old enough to be able to spell and pronounce Androscoggin… It’s amazing what the “benefit of age” delivers as a gift from the universe.)
Here’s my 12-Step program
And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day
Step 1: Dan Berger was asked if he thought there should be a Petite Sirah Symposium. Dan said, “Yes, and there should also be an advocacy group called PS I Love You.” Dan had already identified a need, and I moved it forward to execute.
Step 2: After Foppiano’s successful First Annual Petite Sirah Noble Symposium, I sent out the evaluations, and asked, “If there were a group, would you join?” (All this time, I had Christine Wells of Foppiano whispering in my ear, telling me things that would help to grow this dream. This was all done with the blessings of Louis M. Foppiano. If you are to start an organization, you need advocates on your side. They may not do the work, but they’ll objectively lead you in ways that you can’t subjectively see from your vantage point.)
Step 3: While waiting for the answers to arrive, and in anticipation of success, I created a registration form. Within the registration I stated a) the mission, b) what I planned to achieve as a group, c) the dues structure to carry the group’s expenses in actualizing how it would all be done. I was then ready when the “Yeses” began to arrive.
Step 4: Those who answered my anticipated “Yes” were sent the registration form.
Step 5: I opened a bank account.
Step 6: I got a P.O. Box number.
Step 7: Meanwhile, I turned to my husband and said, “Build a site; they will come.” Anyone wanting to do something like this needs to find a Webmaster who’s willing to be a volunteer in exchange for a link on the home page to his/her Web business. My husband built our first site, and it’s now in its third incarnation.
Step 8: Once the membership began to build, we became a 501 [c] . — Not a 501 [c] . The [c]  is for charity groups; e.g., American Red Cross, United Way, United Cerebral Palsy, etc. These groups raise funds in order to help others in need. A 501 [c]  is a trade business-2-business, non-profit group that supports the group’s business concentration e.g., Chamber of Commerce, PS I Love You, etc.
Step 9: We identified who would serve on our board of directors, as every group needs leaders and active participants.
Step 10: We next incorporate to protect ourselves form those who might see us as a target. [Imagine that you’ve had a tasting, and someone who didn’t take responsibility for him or herself has an elevated blood alcohol level, and then has an accident. The usual next step is to blame someone else; which of course, will be the event. All of a sudden, our event would become liable. (This reminds me of Joan Rivers’ “Oh grow up!” but I know that’s just too much to ask of our litigious society.)]
Step 11: Get insurance.
Step 12: Keep the camp fires burning, because most organizations are related to the energy of the person who started it; and, when that person walks away from it, it’s possible that the organization will dissolve, without solid backing from the members. The only way to keep something like this afloat is to find a person of similar passion and mission. And, say a few prayers to Bacchus. I’ve seen a few groups fold up, when the original creator moves on. Like any other body and soul, there’s a life cycle.