I like my exclusive clubs to be self-selected.
Of course, making an exclusive club self-selected, with transparent and obtainable objectives for making yourself a member, does actually make it inclusive, so in the end, it's not really all that exclusive after all, which is just fine by me.
Some time ago, when I was discussing some other topic, which I'll save for another time, somebody tossed 221B Con's Diogenes Club at me as an example of an exclusive club, trying to justify some other thing, which takes me back to that phrase I used above: "Self-selected."
221B Con's Diogenes Club was founded in it's initial year, when we were all wondering if this whole Sherlock Holmes con thing could be a success. Attendees at that first con were offered the chance at a single lifetime attendance fee for all future cons at the very special price of $221. I had a few friends with cash-on-hand to take advantage of the offer, but I had drained my funds in the dealer's room, etc., and could only take the con up on the bargain advance registration that year.
The price of that lifetime admittance to 221B Con has gone up to $350 now, a hefty price tag, I know. And I do know, because year before last, I spent six months saving up with the goal of buying myself that very thing as a birthday present. And I was overjoyed to have spent the money. Because I didn't do it for me.
If one looks to how long it takes to make up that $350 in what it would cost to attend the con every year and buy the con t-shirt you get for being in the Diogenes Club, it would take about six years of attending. But it isn't something one does in hopes of that "free" seventh, eighth, or ninth year. It's something one does to plant a flag and go, "221B Con is something I support, and plan to attend as much as possible in the years ahead."
When the con comes around, you can't really tell the Diogenes Club members from any of the rest of the attendees. They might not be in the registration line, and they might get an hour or so of a "thank you" reception at some point, which you don't get in trouble for forgetting to attend, as I did this year. (Got into some great morning conversation with a couple of Sherlockians that made hours seem like minutes.) You basically attend the con just as you did all the times you paid the normal, low, low sign-up fee.
That's my kind of inclusive "exclusive" club, if ever there was one. Offer people a chance to support the cause, but don't turn anyone away from joining the party. If you really want to become a 221B Con Diogenes Club member, you can set that goal and attain it by doing one clearly-stated objective thing. No invisible watchdogs to get past at all. Save seven dollars a week for a year, and you'll even have some money left over for the food truck. And really, it just makes you feel good, quietly knowing that you've committed to a wonderful event and its future, even if you didn't really need to.
Well, "quietly," if you're not a blogger who just likes to go on about a favorite Sherlockian thing.