I attended the walk and the AGM of the Chilterns Weekend Walkers (CWW) on Sunday. About 45 people at each. It is a very successful group - and shows what can be achieved.
CWW is a Ramblers Group for 40-50s, is five years old, and spun out of the Chiltern 20-30s group.
In the past year, its membership has gone from 120 to about 220, and it has increased its number of walks from 130 to 150. These are the things that impressed me:
- excellent dynamic committee - all of the committee members are adding value.
- as well as full members, they also have associate members (ramblers members in other groups, who can go on the emailing list for info on walks and socials), and prospective members (those who have signed up for info, but not yet joined the Ramblers).
- incredible social programme - at least 4 socials a month, and between 6-12 in the summer. Barn dances, parties, point to point racing, monthly pub nights, boat trips... They send out a weekly socials update email.
- use of the web. They have launched a new website (using metatags to get it rated highly in google, etc) and anyone can sign up by email to get info - these people are then 'converted' into members. The website includes a google calendar with walks, socials, and trips away.
- use of facebook, etc. They know that there are 1,400 facebook users within a 20 mile radius of Amersham, aged 35-55, who list walking as an interest. This is their target Market.
- low cost. They spend very little money because so much is done electronically.
- friendliness. They make a real effort to be friendly to newcomers:
they 'make them a star for the day'.
- training. They put on map reading, orienteering, and walk leading courses.
Issues they are addressing:
- they're concerned about growing at a sustainable rate. They need to grow members and walk leaders in tandem - so that it is sustainable.
- they have twice as many women as men. So they are launching a man- membership drive, and have nominated a committee member to focus on this! (the sociable aspect of the group is highlighted by two weddings taking place this year).
- they're keen to get more involved at the Are level.
All in all, very impressive, and an enjoyable day.