Our club exploded in growth a few years ago. We're now one of the largest clubs in the country.
I can't speak on what happened during the rapid growth period since I wasn't on the board at the time. The current board inherited this homebrewing machine.
Here's what I can tell you.
1) If you aren't growing, you're dying. Every aspect of the homebrewing hobby is growing. Craft beer is growing. You merely have to exist to grow. If you're not, you might be headed for trouble. Another club in our area has been shrinking; losing brewers; struggling to do the things they used to love to do.
2) Know the limits of your growth. There is a size your club can grow to where you can still meet in people's homes. It's different for each club. You may be able to meet at a business , bar, brewery or restaurant. Once you have 100 people coming consistently to your meetings, things begin to be uncomfortable in those types of environments. Homes become too small, you become too dependent on one business. Insurance and liability become an issue. Your state DLLC (or ABC) starts to become interested. We're beyond this point as a club, we have to rent space to meet. Once this happens several things change.
a) You will most certainly want insurance if you don't already have it. We have a policy for our club with liquor liability. It wasn't easy to come by, but it has to be done once you get large.
b) At some point, growing your club through dues alone will not be sustainable. You will have to raise money through raffles, merchandise, events and flat out begging industry businesses. Revenues gained where homebrew is given away are fairly risky. It only takes one agent to decide it's against the law. A couple of things that help us are selling overall and event sponsorship to breweries, having a business give a percentage of our business back to the club and raffles. Begin to raise funds that are not dependent on your dues.
c) Recognize that you are as large as many industry businesses like homebrew stores, breweries, bars. As a member, your group is a club and it should have a club feel. As a board member, you need to look at it as a business or at the very least a well run non-profit. Don't run the club with a hobby mentality. It's a subtle mindset thing, but I assure you, it changes your focus.
3) If you have a Brewer's Guild in your state, see if you can join it. If there isn't one, start one. As a club that is growing, your club has significant value to the craft beer industry. Don't be afraid to market your selves to them. I'm sure you're already getting things like glassware, shirts, etc from places. Ask them what they'd like to see in return. Find out if they'd be willing to offer more. Glassware is a nice raffle item, but maybe the brewery is willing to offer more for formal recognition by the club. Position your club as a group of opinion-makers in your local beer scene. Encourage your members to let businesses know that they are from your club. Formalize discount programs and provide recognition for businesses that participate.
4) Even though we are one large club, we have several informal clubs within that club. Recognize those groups and work with the leaders of those groups to work on projects. Sub-groups occur in even the smallest clubs, so don't think that this is a large club only trait.
5) Look for ways to incorporate growth into your by-laws. We recently put in a clause that allow the board to expand when membership expands and contracts if membership declines. If you are going to grow or limit growth tie those to certain conditions (i.e. So long as we are able to meet at x business, our maximum growth will be y).
That's off the top of my head this AM. More to come.