It’s All About You: Our Members
As we approach our 2017 Checker Convention in Kalamazoo, I wanted to tell you a bit about you (our members) and the plans we have to mover forward.
With the growth of the Internet, we are seeing and experiencing increased interest in the Checkers we all love. This is an interesting development caused by the ease with which news can be found and shared on the Web. So, while we experienced a consistent drop in our membership in each of the past 5 to 6 years, we believe that it is now possible to reverse that trend by simply finding a lot more Checker enthusiasts. It’s pretty simple: They can now find us and we can find them more easily than ever before. Nowhere is this more true than on our Checker World Facebook Group. Since starting up in June 2015, we have surpassed 500 members and hope to get to 600 by the end of this year. The main Checker World web site is also popular with our members and the public at large. One of the most visited parts is the Checker World Map where we show where every Checker we know about is located. That page was viewed close to 6,000 times in just one year! At the same time, there is no denying that a large number of our members are also members of the Baby Boomer generation and may not be computer literate or have the desire to use social media like Facebook. As some of you have pointed out, I am one of those luddites. For all of these members, we remain committed to keep them in the loop by using our printed quarterly newsletter, “Checkerboard News.” The newsletter has been published without a break for nearly 35 years and will stay that way as long as the desire to receive it is there by a large number of our members. It is important to note that the production and mailing of Checkerboard News is one of the most costly parts of our annual budget. It is a key reason why we charge $25 USA / $30 Rest of World for a membership in the CCCoA. One could argue that with the growth of the Internet, the cost of running our Club should go down. This is simply not true. In fact, our expenses are now considerably higher since we must pay for creating, maintaining and operating our web assets. Specifically, we have to pay for domain names, email addresses, web site hosting, application software use and (on occasion) software development services. Our dues paying members and the public at large benefit from these services. And speaking of our annual budget, it remains funded by our loyal members who renew every year. So, it is important to note that we now have two kinds of members; those who pay the annual dues and those who use our Facebook group (and most of our web site) free of charge. Our challenge going forward will be to convert as many of the Facebook “free” members to dues paying CCCoA members. In other words, we make the public at large aware of our Club via our Checker World Facebook page and web site and then show them why it pays to become a dues paying member of the CCCoA. As before, dues paying members will have more benefits than those who simply want to use our Facebook group and the ‘public’ parts of our Checker World web site. Members will continue to get copies of Checkerboard News, an annual contact list of all other members, and access to “members only” parts of our web site. Members will also continue to receive discounts on our annual convention events. Other member benefits are in the works and will be announced as they are released. In the final analysis, this is your club and we value your input. With that in mind, I’d like to invite you to attend our annual Board meeting in Kalamazoo during our annual convention. Of course, you do need to be a current member of the Club to attend this meeting. It is another benefit reserved for those who respect our Club and value the relationships that help sustain it. See you in Kazoo! Gary