Members are at the heart of every club and delivering a great experience to support their recruitment and retention is a key focus for this winter’s RYA Affiliated Clubs Conferences.
With ever-changing trends and a boom in watersports, it’s never been more important to understand the motivations of existing and potential members – and consider ways of tailoring your offer to meet their needs.
Our 2022 Region and Home Country Affiliated Clubs Conferences this month and through December include two specialist club development workshops dedicated to membership:
One venue which has successfully embraced these themes is RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year 2022, Budworth SC in the heart of Cheshire.
This thriving volunteer-run club has nearly 550 members and in addition to its long-standing USP of strong fleet racing has also benefited from growing its recreational sailing - and within both of these areas, encouraging sub-groups for different interests.
Budworth SC’s wide range of activities includes, for example: fleet-specific racing and training; less formal Saturday afternoon racing with handicap and board starts, which is also open to visitors; Tuesday windsurf racing; junior sailing; ‘Cruising not Racing’ on a Friday evening; team racing; Learn to Sail and Better Sailing courses; and supported ‘progression and practice’ sessions.
Commodore Bill Kenyon explains: “It’s a case of looking hard at the individual groups you have within your sailing club, trying to understand what their personal needs are and tailor-making an activity or session that is unique and specific for them.”
With an eye on supply and demand, Budworth SC is committed to ensuring it is meeting the expectations of its members and tailoring its offer to meet the needs of the different groups within the club. With an online club management system, WhatsApp groups for the different activities within the club, and multiple training pathways to support members on their sailing journey, the club has attracted more members of all ages and backgrounds into the sport.
Many clubs have likewise seen the benefits of diversifying their activities. At Chelmarsh SC in Shropshire, the club found a new vibrancy after introducing paddleboarding and then open water swimming, including a positive crossover between people joining the club for one activity and then deciding to explore a different watersport such as sailing. It has boosted both membership and volunteering and put the club firmly at the heart of its community.
Rob Clark, RYA Director of Sport Development, advises clubs to really take the time to understand their existing and would-be members and their motivations in order to provide a platform which encourages more people to get on the water more often.
He says: “It might not be the traditional style of participation in the club. People might have different time availability; they might have different interests. The diversification of how people want to be on the water is becoming more and more relevant, along with not assuming your new members are the same as your old members.
“It’s also about signposting the opportunities within the club - just because someone happens to have joined a particular group, it’s not necessary to pigeonhole them: provide opportunities to try other activities and make them feel just as welcome in every single one.”
For clubs wanting to find the balance which enables them to meet the needs of their existing members whilst also appealing to a new generation, Regional Development Officers in each region and Home Country are available to provide support.
The RYA Affiliated Clubs Conferences are also an opportunity for clubs to meet their regional RYA teams face-to-face and tap into specialist workshops and RYA expertise.