Membership rates - Nicola Marshall

Summer 2020 - Cycle Magazine announcement about membership changes
Posts: 13
Joined: 5 Aug 2020, 9:42am

Membership rates - Nicola Marshall

Post by nicola.marshall »

Hello everyone

My name is Nicola Marshall and I'm the Director responsible for Membership at Cycling UK. As we mentioned in the first thread from the moderators, we're regularly checking in on the forum to answer specific questions. There haven't actually been that many specific questions that other contributors or Andy Key, one of our trustees, hasn't chipped in on. But thought I would just add a few comments in case helpful in relation to the comments above. So in no particular order (and apologies for enormous length which know isn't good forum etiquette but thought easier than lots of posts in different places):

- Categories: I very much agree that the criteria for some of the categories, particularly 'Unwaged' hasn't been clear to date. We want to ensure the new proposed concessionary category is much clearer and will be taking on board the feedback here, direct feedback via email, to ensure it is as clear as possible. Further to other comments, we also want to modernise and improve the whole join process and make the web pages much clearer.

- Supporter: Can see comments on this. This idea came from feedback over the years from members who want to stay involved in the organisation and supporting what we're doing, but have stopped cycling and so don't need the insurance, legal advice and other benefits. But we think it also works well for those who might need BC membership to compete, or get other insurances so don't need the insurance but want to support our campaigning and other work. We've had a lot of interest in this already so hopefully will be a good option particularly for senior members to transition towards if they don't want the adult membership.

- Lifetime: Also see recent comments on this. We spent time reviewing the lifetime membership offers of lots of other membership organisations like National Trust, RSPB etc. The change in the calculation brings it more in line with their approaches. However, we are keeping the 'loyalty discount' based on membership duration which most other charities don't. Again, we have had a lot of interest in this so far so hopefully another good option for senior members. We have deliberately left a gap between the AGM and the change coming into effect so existing members can take advantage of the current calculation before it changes.

- Affiliated: I really appreciate the comments above re affiliated and the very reduced rate this has. As mentioned in the FAQs, we will be reviewing the affiliated group approach over the autumn to work out the best way forward for this. We had wanted to do this in the spring but, as you can imagine, coronavirus gave us a lot of additional work during this period so we have had to delay it until the autumn/winter.

- Senior members: I've really enjoyed speaking to lots of members, including senior members, over the last 18 months and especially the last two weeks when I've been helping the team with phone calls and emails. We really value all of our members, especially those members who have been with us for many years who are often our senior members. I know this will feel like a big change for senior members and so, IF the proposals are agreed, we will be communicating lots with all senior members to explain all the different alternatives (for example. household is a really good value option for lots of members, and lifetime can be very low cost for members who've been with us for a long time).

- Communications to senior membership : We've been very apologetic already to members who've contacted us, but for everyone's benefit: We are really sorry that, due to an issue with Royal Mail, the magazines and AGM papers arrived with most people after a letter specifically sent to senior members explaining the proposals in more detail - hence it felt like a real surprise to people. And, as we planned for the letter to come after the magazine, we weren't careful enough with the language throughout those letters to make it clear that the change to fee structure is very much a proposal. Best laid plans... We've taken on board all the feedback on these points for future communications.

- Insurance/benefits: There has been good discussion on this, and other threads, about other options for insurance. Completely agree that if you just want third party liability insurance there are other options out there. As you'll know, we are, however, trying to do more than just provide insurance with membership - we've tried to design our membership offer based on all the feedback over the years and the major surveys last year. They showed insurance was important, as you'd expect, but that other benefits including legal advice line, retailer discounts and the magazine are highly valued which is why (of course we would say!) we think membership has good value rather than just insurance.

- Magazine: Can see lots of comments on this on various threads. Of course everyone has their own views on it but couple of quick points: 1) The feedback from the surveys is that this is, overall, very highly valued by current members, as is Cycle Clips. But I know that Dan Joyce and Adrian take on board comments re content throughout the year 2) We recognise that we need to get much better at giving members the information, advice or inspiration that they find most relevant. That's why the second of our three types of membership changes is to improve this and have different membership journeys (forgive the comms speak) e.g. touring focussed; mountain biking; families etc. Hopefully you will see these changes from early next year.

- Charitable activities: I wasn't at Cycling UK at the time it became a charity so won't comment on that transition. I would say that both the surveys from last year, and consistent feedback from members on the phones, in person at events or via email, that we do know that members really value our charitable activities (though I can see not everyone on the forum agrees), in particular our campaigning and lobbying work for cycle investment and road safety. Hopefully the government announcements just a couple of weeks ago show the impact we've had in those areas. It's quite unusual in the charity sector to be able to directly link a charity's campaigning and lobbying activity with government policy but think the work of some of our staff and volunteers, particularly Roger Geffen, has been instrumental in changes which should be good for all cyclists. And it’s the fact that those activities are funded by membership fees that allows us the independence to be a really strong voice to government.

- Membership fees: As set out in the FAQs and the recent blog from Georgi Cox, membership fees fund a huge amount of our work, including all the campaigning and lobbying work; support for groups; events like Bike Week; and communications like the magazine. The only exception is our outreach programmes which are funded by local and national government. As we've seen a loss of almost £230k in our other non-statutory funding this year due to coronavirus, it has really highlighted the central importance of membership fees to everything we achieve as a charity. But, as we say elsewhere, we did put together all these proposals and plans prior to coronavirus and would normally have been at the June AGM.

- Our costs: Can see a few comments about our costs and headcount. Couple of things on that: We're very fortunate that we were left our Guildford office (well, it's forerunner actually in Godalming to be precise) in a legacy so very luckily don't have to pay any rent on our office which. We have had a rise in our staff costs in the last two years - this has mainly been staff funded across the UK funded from our government funding for outreach programmes.

Member numbers and growth: Other threads have focussed on membership numbers. As I've said in those, we are currently have just over 73,000 members which we think is our highest number of members. It is difficult to compare with other organisations, especially BC, as many organisations have special join offers or discounted or free memberships which give a high total number of members - for example our 73,000 includes the 3,000 health and social care workers who joined for three months for free during the peak of the coronavirus crisis (we think 70,000 would still be our highest number of members). So I'm not sure it's helpful to get into a detailed discussion of numbers. As said elsewhere, our member numbers have grown consistently, but slowly, over recent years. The trustees set me a task to get to 100,000 members and supporters, hence the review of membership and these proposals. It's the whole set of changes (1: Improving membership offer over the next six months esp re insurance and retailer discounts; 2: Tailoring communications so people get information etc relevant to them and 3: modernising and simplifying fee structure, improving the join journey and website) that we think will eventually lead to significant rise in membership numbers.

- FAQs: I can see lots of you have read through the FAQs which is great. We will be updating them at the end of each week in response to the questions and feedback so far, so do feel free to flag anything you think isn't clear.

Please do feel free to ask specific questions of Cycling UK staff on this thread (as this is the most popular thread it will be easier for us to answer questions on this thread) in this section of the forum and we will get back within a couple of days. Also, I'm very happy to have direct conversations with anyone, please do just email the address and the team will pass it on and I'll get straight back to you (I would put my email address and phone number up here but the IT team tell me that would lead to me getting sent lots of spam!).

Huge thanks to our volunteer moderators for all your work contributing and moderating the threads on these topics. And just a small reminder that my team are also regularly monitoring these threads on the forum to see if they can answer questions. As you can imagine, they are working very hard at the moment to answer emails and phone calls to answer as many questions as they can, so just a reminder that they do read the comments about the staff and organisation.

Best wishes and thanks for your engagement

Last edited by Graham on 13 Aug 2020, 12:37pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Edited to avoid confusion - this is the copy of the original : extracted, stickied & Locked.