User Group Structure and Positions

When I was at the Rockford, IL .NET Users Group we spent a lot of time afterwards talking about the formation of a user group and best practices. We talked about the idea that they should structure the group so that one person is not having to do all of the work. It’s not sustainable to have one person running the whole show. I just got an email from Chris Hoffman asking me to repeat some of that information. 


The basic structure that we are using for three different groups (Great Lakes Area .NET Users Group, Ann Arbor .NET Developers Group and Ann Arbor Computer Society) is as follows:


4-5 elected officials – elections once a year.


This is the coordinator of all of the different people. Their two basic tasks are to makes sure that everyone else gets their work done and to run the meetings.



The basic task of the VP is to take over when the President is not able to make it. We also use the VPs as an extra body on any of the tasks that need to be done such as helping to coordinate marketing, pizza, venue and so on.



The Treasurer is the one that maintains the bank account.

User groups have expenses. Those can come in the form of paying for venue, pizza, web hosting, swag to give away and lots more. You can get money for these expenses through paid membership, sponsors, donations or some combination of the three. At all three of the groups that I’m involved in, there is a voluntary $20.00 membership. On top of that, they all have free venue so we are able to cover the expenses with that membership. Two of the groups also accept sponsorships so they can make money that way as well. The treasurer takes the money in and writes the checks so make sure this is someone that you trust. Not that the user group will ever make enough money that it’s worth embezzling but still.



This secretary’s job is to record minutes at any of the board meetings and such. They are also responsible for running the elections. They should get familiar with Roberts Rules of Order before running the elections. That not required but it’s definitely good because it gives the whole process order and a sense of officialness.


At AACS (Ann Arbor Computer Society) we also have a Quartermaster who is responsible for physical things like getting the projector ready and the like. It’s their responsibility to make sure that the room is ready for everyone.


Then there are the appointed chair positions. The president has the power to create and appoint chair positions on an as needed basis. The reason that these are by appointment rather than by election is that it makes it easy for administration after administration to reuse the same chairs so there is some continuity between the years. The two chair positions that all of the groups have are:


Program Chair

This is the hardest job of the whole group in my opinion. It’s this chair’s job to ensure that there are speakers for every meeting. This person coordinates with INETA if it’s a .NET Users group, scan search engines for local speakers, contacts friends and family and begs and pleads for speakers. It’s a good idea to have a well connected person in this position when the group is starting up because it will make the job easier. As time goes on, the group will gain a reputation and it will be a touch easier because you’ll have some number of speakers asking to come speak + the INETA gigs so you really only have to find 4-5 presenters a year.


Web Master Chair

This is the person responsible for the web site. Plan on using Community Server, Dotnetnuke or some other portal style framework because it will make life easier.



Other chairs that have been created by various groups


Publicity Chair

Responsible for mailing out the meeting announcements, getting the group into MSDN flash and other community calendars and so on. Publicity is essential to growing the group. First you have to get the word out to get people interested in it. Second, until you get burned into people’s brain, people will intend on coming but forget about it unless there’s a reminder sent out.


Academic Liaison Chair

We have a lot of universities here so it made sense.


I hope that this helps. Please let me know if I missed something or if you have anything to add.

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