Questions about Club Membership-Advice Needed! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Questions about Club Membership-Advice Needed!

So my club right now is facing some financial constraints with the upcoming year. Like many other clubs, we have annual dues, paid in two installments. This gives the club members full access to our training building and field, equipment, and covers any helper fees.

Although we have a good handful of members, many of them pay their dues, come for a few weeks, and then disappear. I personally train every session, unless it's cancelled, and haven't seen some of our "members" in months. And I mean like, between 6 and 12 months...I know that since they paid their dues, they technically can come whenever they want, but it's pretty unimpressive to prospective club guests to see that only 4 or 5 people show up each week, and it's the same people every time..

That being said, I also think that our "initiation" into the club is far too extreme and outdated, and is a big reason as to why we haven't had more members join..

Our policy is that you are registered as a "guest member" for the first 6 months of joining the club. You pay a set fee at each training session, and are required to attend 50% of the time (we have club twice a week). At the end of the 6 months, the members at club vote on your membership based on progress you have made and the level of commitment to the club.

I think this is our biggest problem. I am totally against this. Reason being (as stated above), most "members" don't even come half of the time! I haven't even met some people listed as "members" and I've been a "member" now for almost a year! Yet these are the people get to vote on who gets to join or not? How could they possibly know the prospective members progress or level of commitment or anything about them if they have never/hardly met the person? Right?

I personally think that changing these rules around will open doors to new members. Financially, we need more people, but the whole initiation factor turns a lot of people away. The weekly guest fee can really add up. Being voted in by people you have never met can be intimidating. And personally, if you are a real "member", then I think that everyone should be attenting at least 50% of the time. If you can't come at least 4 times in a whole month, then you should be considered a "guest" as well, and pay the weekly fee.

I would like to approach my club officers with these concerns before the start of the new year. Am I overreacting? Are these "rules" normal? How would you approach the situation?

Thanks!

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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 09:46 AM
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I can't help with suggestions but I can say your reasoning about the voting and new membership is a turn off.

The problem being, as you rightly point out, it's often not based on pure meritocracy.

Good luck,hope things work out for your club.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 09:58 AM
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Hard to change these kinds of things depending on your bylaws. Our club has to have a quarum, which is a lot to change anything in the bylaws and because there are so many members that don't come to meetings its pretty much impossible to change something in there. At my GSD club we are "associate members" for a year, and then we get voted in to being "full members" but you get the same perks and you pay the same amount. There is no per training session fee. Don't know why they do this quite yet, since I am still an associate member.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 10:02 AM
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I don't know if your rules have anything to do with it, I think it's just a sport wide thing. I've been in a few groups because of moving and sometimes I just go train with other people I know, and it's similiar all over.

They have a good core ranging from 3 to 10 people that train regularly depending on the area, a bunch of others that have joined, but no longer show up, and a regular stream of new people wanting to join that show up anywhere from a a month to a year then disappear again either before or after they've joined.

My last club had 2 of us that trained regularly at least twice a week and about 5 could be counted on showing up every weekend, and another 5 -7 that came about 1-2 times per month.

My current club has 5 that show up weekly, and a few others that show up randomly and a flow of guests that range from none to 5 in any given week.

I think some politics keep people way, maybe some club rules, but mostly I think they're just excuses. It's hard work, it's not a 6 weeks and get a certificate training. it's a commitment, it takes years for most people to see a trial field if ever and most people don't have it as a priority. The thought of it is cool to a lot of people, but putting in the time, well, it's tougher than most want to do. even me sometimes.

I don't think what you're experiencing is abnormal among the clubs at all.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 10:11 AM
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This is one reason why my current club split off from the "paper club" that was affiliated. It just got too complicated creating bylaws and then adhering to them and having all these policies and procedures. Now, we just pay by the month and if you don't want to show up, oh well you already paid. The vast majority of the time, when people don't come they have good reasons and since they have already paid in advance they have weighed the "cost" of not attending. If someone just stops showing up, eventually we give them a call to see what's up, but since we don't have any official procedures for becoming a member or leaving the club, all we really have to do is add/remove people from our closed Facebook group which is where we announce training times and locations and discuss events that are only open to the club. The original club had everything you describe - initiation fees, different levels of membership and requirements for how often you have attend, penalty fees, you name it. It was originally intended to protect the club but really it just got out of hand trying to enforce and agree on and eventually the club split (for other reasons as well) but the new faction I am with is just more of an in-or-out policy. You can come a few times and try it out but then you are either paying the full dues or not. Since we are no longer affiliated with any organization we have no by-laws, just some training rules that are pretty normal (dogs must be crated, visitors cannot video/photograph, no alcohol on the training grounds since we don't own them, etc).
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info guys. I just wonder if there is any way to possibly change the whole "initiation" things without messing with the by laws. We need more members to financially support the club. I think more would join if it weren't so complicated and expensive for the first six months. And maybe they wouldn't turn around when they heard that that their membership is determined by people that they've never met..

If nothing changes soon, we will probably have to break off into another group such as yours, Liesje. Especially if the club now is already at risk of going bankrupt..

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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GatorDog View Post
Our policy is that you are registered as a "guest member" for the first 6 months of joining the club. You pay a set fee at each training session, and are required to attend 50% of the time (we have club twice a week). At the end of the 6 months, the members at club vote on your membership based on progress you have made and the level of commitment to the club.

!
I think the 6 months guest membership isn't unreasonable, actually. I do think it's kind of crazy to pay per session. You should just make a "guest member" flat fee for the 6 months. I also don't think that it's unreasonable to say you need to attend 50% of the trainings. It could be they are trying to avoid future issues like the ones you are currently having where people never show up. I also don't think it's unreasonable to be voted in, although the progress thing is kind of odd. Maybe I'm the lone person here, but I come from the SAR world where there is mandatory attendance and a probation period a lot longer than 6 months.


I think 6 months is a good time frame so everyone can determine if you'll be a good fit for each other. It should just be black and white though--you attend 50% of the trainings and aren't fighting with people, then you can be a member.

Flat fee: Whatever 6 months of being a member would be + $X amount extra? I guess what is reasonable would depend on what your current fees are. For my club it's $200 a year, plus $500 in field fees (we have a 40 acres to work on, including lots of places to track that are maintained, a full SchH field w/ blinds, and a heated indoor barn so I think it's fairly reasonable). So for us, 6 months would be $350....so $400 or so would be fair I think in our instance.

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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 11:02 AM
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Yeah I think that the per training session fee is a big part of what can keep someone away. Once you've paid, you want to go and get your money's worth. I like going as much as I can and getting my per training session fee down to as little as possible. I go to my GSD club about 3 times a week. There are days though were I don't feel like going and still get up and go. If I had to pay, even like $10 for the session, I might pick otherwise. Funny, but it makes a difference knowing that I'm "losing" money that I have already paid by not going. Where as if I didn't lose anything by not going, then what's the big deal.

I don't know how well another club would do, maybe an initiation process change will help but if this club can't afford to stay in operation what makes you think a smaller more select club would. Not sure how involved you are with the finances of the club, and how much you know about the costs of running it, but maybe you're right about that. Don't overestimate the amount of people that would be ok with a fee increase, suprisingly if someone is paying a set amount for years, they don't want to increase it just to do the same thing.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 11:19 AM
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I wouldn't be upset about the people who aren't showing up and who are paying their dues-they obviously voted you in...actually if I were you I would be grateful to them...
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 11:23 AM
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Our club has a few hardcore members really trying to make a go of it. The rest are just having fun, or trying to make a BH or SchH1 before the dog is geriatric

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