Friday, 13 November 2015

500 Reasons to be Excited

Just two months ago West Kent Towers (with help and support from the great Ann Widdecombe) launched our new 500 Club. See HERE. Our aim was to enroll 500 members to the 500 Club at £30 per year each. This would produce income of £15,000 (500 x £30). Of this, 50% would be returned in prize money and the other 50% retained to help fight future elections. At capacity the Club would raise £37,500 by 2020. 

That was the plan. 

In reality, I thought it was a big ask. After all, this was a General Election year. Our members have paid their annual subscription, paid again for the local and Parliamentary campaign appeals, bought Summer Raffle Tickets, attended fundraising events and responded to numerous CCHQ financial appeals. I was conscious there are only so many times you can return to the same well. I hoped the 500 Club would be a success, but in my heart I thought we would probably sell 300 numbers and have to reduce the prize fund (and profit) accordingly. I am delighted to say I was wrong. 

This morning we sold our 500th number and the Club is at capacity. In fact, we now have a waiting list. 

What's more encouraging is around 40% of the Club members (about 197 of the 500) are not Party Members - they are pledges and supporters who have never before been involved in our work or fundraising. Interestingly, all of these people have previously (at least twice in recent years) been invited to join the Party, but none have done so. 

This is further evidence of how we must adapt to changing expectations in order to survive and grow in the future. 

The success in attracting new donors demonstrates to me that people are happy to pledge their support and even open their wallets to help us. But they are not willing to 'join' - with all the suspicion and fear of commitment that membership entails. 

The reality is, had we written to these 197 new donors and asked them to join, very few, if any, would have done so. But offer them a new way to support us - something tangible with a specific purpose and outcome, and they are happy to enroll.  Between them they have contributed £5910 to Association funds (of which £2955 is clear profit). I would be genuinely interested to hear if any other Association has attracted almost £3000 of new income since September. 

As we look forward to Lord Feldman's reforms, we must be brave and open. I have long maintained the old 'membership model' is due for fundamental reform. The success of this project demonstrates that hundreds of thousands of supporters are willing to donate if the offer is right and the purpose is clear. We must find a way to reach out to these supporters and involve them on their terms, not insist they join on ours.  

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