Questions from the TRF Groups to Directors@TRF.org.uk
We will be replying to questions from the groups that may be of interest to all Group Chairs and Officers.
Why aren't we (the TRF), Working harder to retain members instead of just ploughing money into new memberships?.
The TRF board have realised that over the years we lost touch with many TRF members, not just older members.
Regardless of whether they are still Trail Riding, out of the factors for not continuing there is still a large segment of previous and current who want to;
Pay to the fighting fund
Re-live stories of trail riding on routes they may once have ridden
Continue involvement in the club
Retaining members is part of managing “churn”, the acquisition of new members less those who leave . We mentioned at the AGM there are indicators that the TRF has made good progress last year to reduce churn.
The Membership Secretary, Sharon’s report covering the number of members choosing to renew is higher each and every corresponding month from the previous year.
Here are some of the actions we are taking to achieve this progress;
Sharon runs an efficient membership renewal process with reminder email and post follow up. Of course it is not perfect and some slip through the net and we welcome suggestions on improvement.
Each year, for the past few years, Sharon in TRF Membership has painstakingly gone through our sketchy pre electronic database like a jigsaw puzzle, and by hand piecing records we have identified members who have made 25 years of membership. The Membership Director, previously me , now Carla, writes to each qualifying member and confirms each one with an eligibility of Life Membership. This is a not inconsiderable amount of admin work applies to literally a handful of members – an investment we see as worthwhile to recognise long term members.
The TRF Membership list sent out by Sharon to each Group Membership officer where we highlight any member “in grace” and not renewing so any “save action” can be taken on by local groups. Sharon also asks each non-renewing member for feedback. Again this is a high manual effort operation which yields results across a much greater number of non- renewing members.
Dedicated Membership Director – The TRF are fortunate enough to have one of our most talented and able members coming forward as Membership Director, focussed on the enhancing the experience of existing Members.
Carla the Membership Director runs the “unsung heroes” awards programme, given out to long serving members whose efforts have not received the publicity that should have been given. This has been well received and again affects a potentially unlimited number of members.
Heritage Director- Steve Neville, is a valued member of the Board. He has been a member since the 1970s and keeps the Board in constant reminder of our rich Heritage and the wishes of long established members.
It was announced at the AGM, - Options for "Heritage Trail" are also being investigated. TRF Membership & Marketing appreciates that there is still a significant need for a traditional format printed magazine. The TRF is currently looking at different ways of reinstating this in its original paper format.
Complaints- Obviously it will be difficult to retain a member with a complaint. Last year we spent a phenomenal amount of time discussing complaints. I believe the largest single area of board discussion and time spent has been in complaint resolution. This has been a cathartic is difficult process for the TRF and for all parties concerned. From what was once a flood, we are now down to a trickle of issues. These are seen as constructive room for improvement. Even a very few long term outstanding complaints are still being progressed, even though quick fixes are not forthcoming.
Success – everybody likes to feel part of a successful organisation, and the progress made on growing the TRF, clarifying our Aims and Objectives and increasing our influence has been commented on by members of all eras
Of these nine areas of work, I believe the most significant factor in losing touch with longer term existing members is not price of membership but the loss of Trail in paper format without understanding the negative impact on the TRF or making actionable alternative plans.
Thanks to Greg with his work on our branding & web, and supplemented now with Wil on Membership & Social Media integration we will shortly be bang up to date with our “Web 2.0” strategy that has proved attractive to the new generation of Trail Riders and increasing our influence.
We can now look at fixing Trail, the broken link to our past.
With Heritage Trail (paper/magazine) we aim to;
Re-engage Trail Riders who don't use or don't like electronic medium
Reach out and connect with older TRF members who can no longer ride but still wish to be part of the TRF
Gain a new audience who may be tempted to glance at a paper copy.
Encourage members to engage with TRF groups and group meetings.
To start this project, we are looking for volunteers with magazine editing , graphic design and journalistic skills as well as the print production and distribution that the TRF will require.
I hope the above has given you an idea of what we currently do to retain members.
I would suggest that in terms of effort we currently spend an equal amount between new member and retaining existing members. We currently spend a higher amount of effort on both areas than any time over the last 4 years that I have been involved with the TRF.
Any suggestions on ways we can retain our members are welcomed. I trust that the above demonstrates a few of the programmes of work that we are doing to achieve exactly what you suggest.
Over 70s Complimentary Membership
The Board has made substantial enquires over the issue of complimentary memberships of over 70's and concludes that over 70's memberships are not in force.
The option is open to members to propose an over 70's membership for the directors consideration and voting at the next AGM.
How do we get insurance approval for events.
Firstly take a look at the previous groups chairs newsletters attached.
There is a simple six step process that will result in safe events and diretcors approval. If you need further help please call Mario on 07721 480000
Do we have the right to remove a member from our group Facebook and forum? can we do it without reference to National TRF?”
The answer is yes – a group can remove a member without reference to TRF, with the caveat that the member then has the right to complain to TRF. On receipt of such a complaint, TRF has the right to investigate the matter. If TRF are satisfied that the TRF groups contravened TRF bylaws or policy by their actions, appropriate action could be taken.
In that context it is good practice for the locakl TRf group TRF to consult TRF before they take such action (which also enables directors to keep their fingers on the pulse).
Groups operate as local agents of the TRF to provide services for TRF members and to generally advance the interests of TRF and trailriding.
If the local TRF are satisfied that a service they are providing to that end is being misused, they can take action against those misusing it.
The confusion is apparent in the statement that a member “isn’t a local group member”. This is immaterial, because the member is a TRF member and we are one tribe. TRF is comprised of its members, as opposed to Groups and the members that belong to those groups.
Can a group charge a subscription.
A voluntary donation can be requested on an annual basis and the reasons for seeking the funds can (should) be given. A subscription differs in that it is a condition placed on receiving Group services, which would conflict with TRF’s byelaws.
The entitlement to attend local groups meetings are a benefit of TRF membership, which are protected by the TRF’s byelaws.
Working on a TRF stand, & promoting there own activities, be they commercial or otherwise.
Can you confirm that there won't be anyone working on a TRF stand, that is promoting there own activities, be they commercial or otherwise, as this gives a mixed message to protective new members
Thanks for raising your concern. The point you raise about mixed messages is a good one and this of course should be avoided. The decision on this at the end of the day will be down to the local stand event manager who has responsibility for what happens on the stand.
As guidance for the event Manager, we are sure you will have noticed the success that the TRF have had in recent years on Facebook and the website where the TRF have actively engaged with commercial organisations and supported members with commercial interests to the benefit of all parties.
Members voted at the past two AGMs overwhelmingly in favour of a marketing strategy that aims to increase the TRF’s influence and that recognises the Economic value of trail riding which is delivered by businesses directly and indirectly involved in Trail riding.
The many positive benefits for the TRF range from direct advertising revenue , and indirect wider influence from partners and linked business interests in stopping lane closures. The TRF has prospered recently on increased activity, and some of our more active members have commercial interests. We can give you specific examples if required but you may wish to take a look at APTR – a TRF member who focusses on this aspect.
Some of the new volunteer role at the show will involve leaving the stand and going out to commercial organisations and promoting the TRF to potential commercial partners.
For these reasons, we don’t believe it is in the TRF’s interest to deprive long term established TRF members from responsibly promoting sustainable Trail riding regardless of the commercial aspect.
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including National Conferences and AGMs