We’re stuck inside at the moment and most ‘normal’ club activities are on hold, but that doesn’t mean that clubs can’t consider improving their systems and structures during lockdown.
There are lots of ways that club committees can use this time to consider development of their club, which is often left to one side while we focus on enjoying our climbing, hill walking and mountaineering. This article covers some of the ways that clubs may wish to look towards the future.
Constitution and club structure
Maybe not the most enticing of topics, but one that clubs often find they have to grapple with. So, what is the best structure for your club?
There is already information on the BMC website about constitutions, so if it is time to review yours then head to BMC Club Guidelines page.
If your club is an unincorporated association (i.e. it has no formal structure such as a company would have) and you are looking at what alternative options are available for you then there is an easy-to-access workshop that would be an ideal starting point. The Club Matters workshop ‘Introduction to Legal Structures’ is available on line during the current coronavirus crisis.
Plus, there is other information on the Sport England Club Matters website [although this is funded by Sport England, much of the content is relevant to clubs based in Wales too]. Further support for clubs based in Wales is available from Sport Wales.
New member recruitment
Actively recruiting new members during lockdown will be an uphill struggle! However, planning a programme for post-lockdown recruitment is definitely worthwhile. We don’t know yet what freedoms will return at what point, and some plans may become reality in 2020, whereas others will have to wait until 2021. But working on a programme now, engaging members to deliver it, and to prepare communications and marketing would be time well spent.
Options that you may wish to consider include:
· Engage competent members within your club to deliver a come-and-try day for potential members to introduce them to hill walking or outdoor climbing, or you could do a come-and-try session in partnership with your local climbing wall. Consider what equipment you may need to acquire, or whether you want to put on another activity at the same time too, such as providing a social activity with pizza or cakes (or both!) at the end of the day, or whether you may need to hire an instructor or two if you don’t have sufficient competent and confident members. Organisations such as Sport England and Sport Wales have grant programmes to support clubs to be able to deliver this type of activity. [NB at time of writing the Sport England Small Grants fund is temporarily closed whilst focus is on administering their emergency grants – all the information is still available online and applications can be prepared for when the grant is re-opened]
· Consider whether your club members wish to undertake some training to help in supporting novice members. There are options through the BMC, and there is training available through the formal instructor route via Mountain Training. Subsidised outdoor first aid courses are available for club members.
· Work with a local university club to provide a transition route in to your club for those students who want to move in to a local club after graduation, plus there may be students who wish to join your club, whilst still heading out with their student club. Many of the students wishing to join you bring lots of experience of climbing and walking and will also have experience of working with novices, which could help your club grow further in the future.
· Introducing a family membership offer within your club can both encourage existing members to participate more in club activities and can encourage more people to join your club. The BMC has an offer to support families by providing free membership for younger children.
Volunteers are essential for the smooth running of a club, just as they are for the smooth running of the BMC, and it is really important that volunteers feel appreciated. The type of support that volunteers need will be different depending on aspects such as their role, experience, and age.
Some options that you may want to consider are:
· Have a Thank You card (actual or virtual) that you can send out to your volunteers.
· Recognise the efforts of your volunteers – you can use your website, newsletters, AGM reports and speeches at your annual dinner to show your appreciation. A simple ‘Thank You’ in person to the volunteer means a lot.
· Do your club members know what the different roles are within your club, what they entail and who does them? You could use this time to profile different volunteers or roles in the club – and a wider understanding of the roles could lead to more people being willing to step forward and help in the future.
With the current restrictions, using technology is essential to enable us to keep in touch with each other, whether it is a simple email or a virtual meeting with dozens of attendees. For those clubs without experts in the field it can feel very daunting to understand what is available and what is the best option for your club. Luckily there is lots of advice online written specifically for voluntary sports clubs.
· For running a virtual club meeting click here
· For running a virtual club AGM click here
· For engaging more with social media click here
Sport England - www.sportengland.org
Sport Wales - www.sport.wales
Sport Matters - www.sportenglandclubmatters.com
Mountain Training - www.mountain-training.org
If you have any questions on the above or would like more support for your club then please get in touch with Jane Thompson, the BMC Clubs, Huts & Volunteers Officer - jane @thebmc.co.uk, 07885 910606