The EBU’s drive for new membership began in earnest in 2017 by supporting a pilot scheme in Yorkshire. A sub-committee of the county association was formed to manage a membership campaign across the county, and David Guild (former chair of the Olicana bridge club in Ilkley) was appointed as Regional Development Officer. His role, agreed by a small management committee of which he was part was to encourage clubs to initiate membership campaigns. It was one that he took up with skill and vigour. Costs were shared three ways, between the EBU, the county, and the clubs where campaigns took place. In addition, there was a contribution from the European Bridge League (EBL). Today David reports that of 34 clubs, 20 took part in a membership campaign and 18 had good results.
Participation in a campaign essentially means actively promoting a club to the local community, including running bridge teaching and providing gentle improver sessions so that novice players are able to progress gradually towards being able to play in a normal club session.
Previously Yorkshire had created a website, which is still very active at http://learnbridgeyorkshire.co.uk/, forming a central point of contact where anyone in the region could find out how to learn the game.
It is not the EBU’s intention that clubs should run membership campaigns for a year and then stop. Rather, it is about transforming clubs into places which enjoy a regular flow of newcomers, at all levels of ability, so that bridge will continue to thrive.
In the light of Yorkshire’s experience, the EBU under the guidance of board member Ron Millet, and with strong support from Chief Executive Gordon Rainsford and others, is encouraging other regions to run their own marketing campaigns. The EBU has appointed a Membership Development Officer (MDO), Tim Anderson, to move this forward.
In essence, the EBU has come up with an offer to counties or regions which looks like this:
- The MDO will provide a resource centre, largely web based, offering background information, guidance, news, and resources such as images and templates, for clubs embarking on membership campaigns.
- The EBU, via the MDO, will provide a design service for clubs who require marketing material or advertising to support their campaign, including guidance on how to place Facebook ads.
- As an option, the county or region may appoint a Regional Development Officer at its own expense (it may be a paid, part-time appointment as was the case with David Guild). The Yorkshire experience suggests this is the best way forward.
- The county or region is encouraged to created its own website along the lines of the Yorkshire example mentioned above. Yorkshire is happy to share the underlying code for the site for free if needed.
- The EBU will contribute 50% of marketing costs including printing or social media advertising, subject to prior approval. Room hire or other event expenses are not included. The county or region may choose to contribute further to reduce the cost to clubs, but we encourage clubs to share some of the cost so that all participants are included.
- The EBU requires its logo to be included on all publicity material.
- Newcomers who embark on classes should be enrolled into their club and registered as members of the EBU at the earliest opportunity, even though they will not normally be playing at standard club sessions.
- The county or region will report on progress so that the EBU is aware of development and will continue to learn how best to support clubs.
What about clubs who want to run membership campaigns, but are not part of a region-wide effort? In this case of course we will do our best to support them, but the full benefits and 50% funding will not be available.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01296 317208