My city, like most, has a LUG and the LUG also maintains several mailing lists as their primary method of communication. I've subscribed to these lists since I first heard of Linux to help in my quest for knowledge and to be able to communicate with others who share this interest.
Due to a very heavy work schedule as a business owner, it would be almost impossible for me to attend meetings but I do try to keep abreast of the local happenings and have attempted to be an active part of the mailing lists as my business runs Linux exclusively. It's very easy to tell that some members of this LUG really know their stuff so this makes their comments and discussions wonderful fodder for those of us in serious learning mode.
Several years ago, hearing the local LUG pleading poverty in the face of Installfests and since Linux had been such a blessing to me both personally and in business, I decided that even though I had never attended a meeting, I would have my company make a donation (I forget the actual amount, $75 or $100 I seem to recall) to help defer Installfest costs such as the purchase of the CDs they pass out. I also mentioned that I was needing to update the distro I had on my computers and would be quite appreciative if, even though I couldn't attend the Installfest, they could save a CD for me
You can't imagine the flames I received! Now, they were perfectly comfortable accepting my money, but I was told that I had no right to expect a CD and they were offended by my expectation that I could "buy" one from them for $75 or $100 or whatever the amount was. They further explained that the "proper" method for buying a CD was to contact the vendor rather than them. (They were broke and wanted to give away CDs they couldn't afford, I offered a donation to enable them to pay for the CDs, and they were offended! No wonder they were broke! Go figure.) Naturally, I responded that I wasn't trying to buy a CD, I was trying to help them with their cash problem and after they received the CDs which they were going to be distributing for free, I'd appreciate receiving one. The flaming went on for over a week, I sent the donation I had promised, and one kind soul emailed me privately that he really appreciated the support and would see that I got a CD.
I'm aware that as geeks we're not endowed with social skills, but to beg for donations and then to bite the hand offering one is nothing but boorish and ill mannered. They were treated poorly in school because of their lack of socialization? So was I, but whenever someone extends a hand to help out with a cause I believe in, unlike them, I don't bite!
The upshot of it all is that I still subscribe to the mailing lists so I can read all of their whining and in-fighting and occasionally get a tidbit of useful information. What some of us will endure for knowledge, eh? They continue to plead for new members and for financing but their membership doesn't seem to be growing too much over the last couple of years. Financing-wise, I would have been willing to cut them a donation check several times a year but as getting bit is not one of my turn ons, donating to that particular LUG is not an option.
Would I ever actually go to a local LUG meeting? Not without flame retardent clothing!