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Mavens needed. Apply here.

Over the last couple of days I have posted two blogs about why the single biggest strategic requirement on us right now is to deal with the sport’s significant budget deficit, and have explained my view that the best way to do that is to dramatically increase the number of members of British Rowing, starting simply in a support capacity – the cost of which is £32 a year. I’ve tried to explain how the cost of delivering just Business As Usual means that we can’t even start to do the many things that would allow us to break the current vicious circle whereby the suspicion some have of the NGB leads to dislocation from members and adds to churn, and instead create a virtuous one, through which we can provide huge positives for active rowers and mechanisms for more casual ones, which will make everyone happy.

I was going to write today about what we’d do with the £2m unrestricted income that would result if, say, we increased our current membership of 32,000 (lower than archery, judo, table tennis, basketball and canoeing, among many others) to 100,000 people (still lower than yachting, cycling, netball, and others – and less than a third of gymnastics and a seventh of golf), but I think it’s clear from messages I’ve had on Twitter that there are so many ideas out there already that there’s not much point for the moment. Suffice to say that we could let a thousand flowers bloom, facilitating and funding the delivery of ideas around the country where it makes sense, and delivering them ourselves where it doesn’t – all of which will protect the sport for the future.

Instead – having been chided on Twitter for “writing these lengthy blogs” – I’ll keep this short and just cover what’s relevant to Henley. Apologies for people who want more detail and to follow the whole argument, but I don’t have the time to write to make these blogs a work of art, or produce multiple versions of stuff to suit every taste! I’m a volunteer as well, in case anyone forgot… 😁

I have talked to plenty of people who tell me there’s no chance on earth of getting to 100,000 members and that I will make myself a laughing stock for suggesting otherwise. I disagree, and believe that by segmenting our audience into all the different relevant groups, establishing what it is that is important to each, and speaking to them accordingly, it is absolutely possible. But either way, I’m prepared to put stick my neck out and take the risk, so we’re going to give it a go. Even if we miss it by miles, if we doubled our membership in the process, it would have been an exercise worth doing for everyone’s benefit.

But we need your help. The first target group consists of lapsed rowers, who I am convinced would be willing to help the sport if they understood what an enormous difference their £32 a year would make.  Although Henley has come up before we are really ready to make the case clearly (we agreed a strategy at the May 22nd Board meeting, and there hasn’t been time to do all the prep work, other than arrange our fantastic stand, since then), we are going to kick this off while 10 to 15,000 of them a day (less than 10% of whom, by my estimate, will currently be members) are walking past.

So… If you have had the time to read this stuff, and you buy any of the case that I am putting, then please encourage your old rowing mates (and other fans of rowing present, like the parents of juniors) to come and see us, and talk to us, and sign up to support. It would actually take very few iterations of one person finding ten people they used to row with, who each find ten people, to blow through the 100,000 target (five, in fact). In short, it is absolutely doable with the rowing community’s support.

You won’t be able to miss us by the Regatta Shop, and you can come and hear about the British Rowing Charitable Foundation that launches in November this year, and other things that we are doing. Or you can just let us know what you think we ought to be doing that we’re not (even including my failure to add sub-headings to my blogs, if you want!) and we can discuss what a massive positive difference we could make if we did this together. I’ll be there on and off all five days, and lots of members of the team will be with me. Please stop by!

I was saying to someone on Twitter that we need less than 10% of the potential audience out there to support us in this for us to make it work, and that I can’t believe that there aren’t that many people in the sport with a positive-enough outlook to give it a go. Would you and your friends be part of the 10%? What have you got to lose, by running with us and seeing if, together, we can make it work? If we fail, it’ll only cost you the price of a cup of coffee a month from now til next year… 😉

Posted in British Rowing.


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