Utah G.O.T.H.I.C.S.
Gothic Organization To Help In Community Service

Starting a G.O.T.H.I.C.S. or similar group - the FAQ

There have been several people wanting to start chapters of GOTHICS or similar organizations. This FAQ should help you get started.

Can we start a group named G.O.T.H.I.C.S.?

We are very interested in others starting GOTHICS chapters. We only ask that you follow our naming convention. You may use G.O.T.H.I.C.S. (Gothic Organization To Help In Community Service) in conjunction with a chapter name or heading preceeding the acronym, such as "Seattle G.O.T.H.I.C.S.," "Southwest G.O.T.H.I.C.S.," etc. The only names off-limits is G.O.T.H.I.C.S. by itself, and you may not change the meaning of the acronym.

If you would prefer to start a group uner a different name, we will still be happy to supply you with the same information, and we'd like to link your site. Other groups will not have the same opportunities to be included within the gothics.org site, but we are still firmly supportive of any group who shares our ideals and goals.

What will starting a G.O.T.H.I.C.S. group mean for us?

Utah GOTHICS, being the first and starting chapter, will have recourse over actions of other groups using the name, if those actions are deemed obviously out of line with our mission and goals. As long as your chapter is formed and maintained with the same basic ideals, this will not be any kind of issue. Only if a group using the GOTHICS name organizes a violent or obviously negative function will this become an issue.

Do we need to have a website? Can we be included on the GOTHICS domain?

Any GOTHICS group should have a website since it helps to get the word out. You should include a link to the Utah G.O.T.H.I.C.S. site, which will be reciprocated on our links page. Please send Madelyn info if you create a site for your group. Pending approval from our system admin, we are looking into adding GOTHICS sites to our domain, since that's why it's there, and Madelyn will be available to help you create and move your site over. Stay tuned for more.

Can we link to the GOTHICS site?

Yes, please! We even have banners you can use to link to our site.

Do we need to get incorporated?

You should look into getting your chapter incorporated in your town/state. Below is a link to our Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, which we needed in order to get incorporated in Salt Lake City. We didn't have to pay any taxes this year, so that shouldn't be an issue. We'll have our official tax-exampt status sometime this year, hopefully, so we'll work with others on that a little later in the year. We were not impressed with the help and info we got by incorporating our group with the state of Utah. All it accomplished is to get us on every mailing list for every small business supplier, credit card company, and junk peddler in the US. However, setting up a set of By-Laws - voted on and accepted by your group - does let you make decisions about how your group will work and run. We incorporated us because all the groups we talked to had, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. It hasn't hurt us in any way, and if we ever get to non-profit status, we'll have to be incorporated, but you might not need to bother at this time with incorporating. Your first meeting is just to gauge interest, so you don't necessarily have to have by-laws then, but it would be a good idea to bring ours and let people see what we've done.

Here are Adobe Acrobat files of the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. Acrobat Reader is available for free from Adobe.

What should we do to get started?

We started by holding an initial meeting which we'd heavily advertised online and with posters and handbills. Find as many people as you can: call your friends, talk to people at clubs, paper the city with fliers. Hold the meeting at a coffee shop or other place where goths and freaks can comfortably gather, talk, take notes, etc. Use your first meeting to brainstorm. You may want to come up with some easy projects to suggest, but use your first meeting to determine what kinds of contacs, interests, and ideas your group has. Some people who come to your meeting may already volunteer or have friends/family involved in local groups; use these contacts first, rather than trying to create new ones.

Do we need an email list?

We strongly suggest creating a email list, or using an existing one for your region, to get people involved. In our experiences, non-net-goths don't get as excited about the kind of community spirit that a GOTHICS group usually entails. A few do, but the constant communication and brainstorming over a list really gets and keeps people excited. Work on getting people who are interested onto your list. Madelyn will be happy to subscribe to your lists and answer questions, for now (until she gets swamped, anyway) so email her at madelyn@gothics.org with details about your list once you get it set up. There are free email list services available online, and your ISP might allow you to have one for free if there's not already a suitable local list you can use.

What's a good activity to start with?

The best kinds of activities to start with are graveyard cleanups. Everyone gets excited about them, and they're easy to arrange. Announce it for, say 1pm-5pm and plan to grab a snack afterwards (like pizza or someone can bring some chips and drinks); have everyone bring gardening gloves (you can usually get them for $2 from discount stores, or from parents/neighbors) and trash bags, and range around the graveyard, picking up trash - keep track of recyclable materials, too. No one has ever stopped us or asked us what we were doing; when you're carrying around a trashbag and picking up broken bottles, it's pretty obvious that you're not doing any harm.

We've tried food drives with our local clubs with no great success; if you can get the word out and if a club owner will offer a discount, free drink, or some incentive, it might work. We've done clothing drives, where we all talk to co-workers and friends to collect clothes, then deliver them to local shelters or Traveler's Aid.

How do we get in touch with groups who need our assistance?

Look in the phone book and see if there's any listing under for something like a volunteer resource center. We found a lot of useful info in our Yellow Pages' "Community Pages," but it may be in your white pages. Other types of places to call: Traveler's Aid (ask what kinds of donations or volunteers activities they might need), battered women's shelters (we were turned away from the YWCA, but the Catholic Community Center was very open to our group), teen shelters, etc. Ask your family and friends - if they volunteer somewhere already, that's an excellent way to get involved in helping a group. Pick up any local "underground" or "liberal" newspapers and read in the community sections - they usually have one - for Calls for Volunteers.

How do groups react to your being gothic, or your appearance?

When we call for info, we don't tell people who we are. If asked, we usually say, "We're a youth-oriented community volunteer organization." Once we start talking about a planned activity, we do tell them what we are. If they have reservations, we ask them to visit the website or if we can send them more info about our group. Sometimes, they just don't want to work with us, but that's only really happened once. So far, no one has reacted badly to our appearance when we showed up to help out.

Do we have to have directors? What do you do about leadership in your group?

Keep activities small at first, and figure out who your strong people are - the people who have a lot of interest in doing activities and who can get others into it. These are going to be your leaders. We suggest you create a preliminary (say, 3 or 6 month) directorship of 3 or 4 people who are interested in getting it started, and make it very clear that as soon as the group is rolling, you'll have real election. Another way is to set one person up as absolute leader, but this person must have the time, the energy, a decent salary so they can afford all the little expenses that add up (photocopies, fees for incorporating mailing info, etc), the leadership ability, and the desire, to keep it going no matter what. Or you can try doing everything by vocal agreement. We'd like to see what other groups do to handle the leadership issue. A committee is better in some ways, but you'll have to work out the politics of your group yourself - and that can be the hardest part. You just have to stay on target, even when people say nasty things about the group - it has happened to us, and we just ignore it.

Madelyn is available intermittently at ICQ#2686635. Please ICQ her with direct questions and concerns or mail her at madelyn@gothics.org.

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