Interested to find out more Jennie Taylor (JT), Communications Officer at British Orienteering contacted Moravian Orienteering Club to find out more about how the club had recently recruited large numbers of new members and ask what the club is doing to retain them.
JT: “Moravian have attracted a large number of new members in the last few years what are you doing to retain them?”
Roo Hornby, current Acting Chairman of Moravian Orienteering Club, said:
“Our upward trajectory started with much better engagement with schools through our region’s Active Schools programme. Our club and Active Schools started with annual school competitions around 10 years ago within the school day in one of the towns that encompassed several primary schools. We spread this to other towns, trying to get publicity out about the club; then we started an ‘Annual Moray Schools’ event, which Gordonstoun School kindly host. This started to increase participation at club events as well; primarily if the parents were also keen to take part. The Scottish Orienteering Association and other organisations funded a Regional Development Officer to capitalise on the upcoming Moray2013 and Highland2015 Scottish 6 Day Events along with the World Orienteering Championships 2015. Again, most of the focus was engaging at schools level and to encourage families to come along to club events. Our publicity team have been excellent at drawing people in, especially with the effective use of social media mainly through Facebook. Although club membership increased to nearly 300, things have stabilised to around a more manageable 200; but more importantly, we are having many more regular orienteers, with our Level D events attracting up to 150 people depending on the venue. We aim to make the atmosphere at the assembly as welcoming as possible and try to always have someone available to advise newcomers. Word of mouth has attracted a small number of M/W21-35 with no children, who seem to keep coming back, which must mean we are getting something right for them.
We have found the six biggest ways to retain our club membership have been by:
These youngsters are great examples of children who have got really engaged through incentive schemes – two even reaching their Scottish Orienteering Association 100 event badges only 2 years after running in their first event. Now they and their parents are very actively involved with the club.
Jennie then caught up with Mike Rodgers member at Moravian Orienteering Club.
JT: “Mike, why is Moravian Orienteering Club also putting such an emphasis on the British Orienteering Incentive Scheme?”
Mike Rodgers (MR), said:
“The British Orienteering Ranking Scheme is there for more committed orienteers. However, the British Orienteering Incentive Scheme is the only scheme that caters for under 16s, and adults who are just getting into the sport and are mainly attending local formerly Level D events. Many are not at the stage where they might commit a whole day to orienteering. Moravian have seen some membership churn in recent years, with many people joining but not renewing their membership a year later, suggesting we may have struggled to get them properly engaged with the club or sport. In the end, it is not for everyone; however, anything that helps make them feel more valued and involved, and gives them a sense of achievement, can only be a good thing. It also demonstrates a tangible benefit of being a British Orienteering member as opposed to just a club member. It might just help prevent people drifting away after being interested enough to take up orienteering in the first place.”
JT: “Within your club who are the main beneficiaries of the Incentive Scheme?”
MR: “Brand new members. The earlier a new member gets some kind of official feedback and recognition that they are progressing in orienteering, the more chance there is that they will be motivated to improve further and attend more events which will help them to do that.”
JT: “How can the orienteering fraternity help Moravian and other clubs make the best use of the Incentive Scheme?”
MR: “Clubs need to recognise the importance of uploading results from their Level D events. Everyone seems to upload results that count for the rankings list, so it's not that clubs don't know how to do it. This suggests to me that some clubs probably aren't aware of the Incentive Scheme and how it works. We need to remember that local events are the ones that many of the people we want to engage are attending.
I see quite a few clubs uploading results in an invalid format. This is an easy fix. For a course to be recognized, courses simply have to be given a "colour code" before they are uploaded. Even if a club is not promoting the scheme to their members, please remember that other clubs with members attending your event might be. I also think clubs should be highlighting in their newsletters which members have achieved awards in the scheme. This will help newer members become better known in the club and help to increase awareness of the British Orienteering Incentive Scheme.”
Thank you Mike and Roo for sharing this insightful information about your club’s membership activities, it is really great to hear that your club is making full use of British Orienteering’s incentive schemes available. and that they are helping your new members to improve their orienteering skills and being recognised for their achievements.
You can find out more about these British Orienteering Incentive Schemes here.