Increasing family memberships


Case study: Sutton Sailing Club

Sutton Sailing Club has a membership of approximately 120 and is based on a small lake in Sutton Park near Birmingham. They are an RYA Training Centre and run a regular junior club.  Like most clubs they have to work hard at getting new family memberships. The problem was that the club only had 3 or 4 volunteer instructors and one Senior |Instructor. This meant that the volunteers were becoming overloaded.   To overcome this problem the club made the decision to increase the number of volunteer instructors by running a DI course at the club.  Candidates were recruited from the membership and less than five months later the club had 15 volunteer instructors.  Through their RDO the club managed to access some funding to reduce the cost of this course – reducing the financial burden on the club and the volunteers.

Having increased the number of qualified volunteers the club received full OnBoard status.  With the help of their OnBoard Development Officer they contacted a few local schools and setup taster sessions for the pupils. The club insisted that the parents attended the sessions. Whilst the kids were having a wet and wild time the club had spare instructors to take the parents out for joyrides in club boats and members boats.   The key to this was that all the families were local and, in many cases, knew other parents at the club.

The sessions proved so popular that the clubs ‘Learn to sail’ courses were massively oversubscribed and at the last count, those taster sessions have got 120 kids on water and 28 new youth members as a result, and demand for training rocketed to the extent that volunteersran courses over the summer months and into September.  The best news is that the club have gained an extra 12 family memberships!

Learning points

  • Get your existing adult members involved with training at whatever level they are able to help.
  • Speak to your RDO about setting up a DI course at the club and helping you to find the funds to subsidise the cost.
  • Run a taster sessions for a local school – but ensure that you have instructors to take the parents out for a joyride.
  • Run a Learn to sail course for kids and adults but taught separately shortly after the taster sessions.