Future of the BCSS
There is an ongoing discussion about the future of the BCSS.
It is a fact that there is little recruitment now being done by branches with a few notable exceptions. Over 50% of new members come from the Internet. In Sussex there are now very few shows or displays being put on. We simply don't have the members and collections to be able to stage them. The last few Shows that Brighton branch put on some years ago attracted very little public and were very ineffective as a recruitment method particularly considering the large amount of work and time involved. Locations or Halls to stage shows in our area which have any significant passing traffic are prohibitively expensive.
Recruitment via the Internet in contrast is fairly cost efficient both in terms of money and time. I also believe there is still fair potential for increasing this still further. Admittedly this only gets at a fraction of the population but that fraction is now quite high and in terms of potential members is probably still higher. I think we should aim to double Internet recruitment over the next two years. If we can combine this with some improvement in the retention figure this could get the society membership growing again.
There are a number of things we should be doing to achieve this:
1. We need to get more people to the website. We can do this by improving the quality and quantity of material on the website (and also the branch websites). Some hard copy publicity of the website address may be useful and we can also look at extending on-line publicity.
2. We need to keep the visibility of the website high. In part this follows on from item 1) but also involves technical as well as commercial methods. I intend to write a paper on the technical aspects this which I will publish somewhere on-line because it will be useful to BCSS branch webmasters and other BCSS members who have their own
3. We need to look carefully at the incentives for joining. Are the existing ones spelt out clearly? Can we add to them? In particular we need to allow for the fact that a high percentage of those joining on-line are either too far from a branch to attend or are even overseas. We now have a number of English BCSS members who have retired to places such as Spain or France. Can we quantify this? Is there anything extra we can offer them?
4. We need to look carefully at the incentives for renewing, particularly for first year renewers. Is there anything extra we can offer them? Is the process as easy as it should be?