Sat Series Changes - Views

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Nat Skidmore

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Jan 17, 2022, 12:01:13 PMJan 17
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Hi all,

 

You may have seen a proposal in 10th December’s e-news to make some changes to the fees for the Saturday series.  They weren’t big, it remains excellent value, but I have to say I felt rather disappointed.

 

I had organised the Saturday series since 2016 until the pandemic.  It’s special.  No other club does it better.  Its continued success is due to all the volunteers, organisers and participants - in fact anyone that shared that passion for it to be the flagship TVOC event for bringing in new people, getting them hooked on the sport and coming back.   It was also incredibly successful - against its objectives and financially for TVOC.

 

Do I think the changes will make a massive difference.  No.  But I feel they are unnecessary and counter to our club’s principles.  Orienteering suffers from a chronic lack of diversity in most measures, especially ethnic, socio-economic, gender and to an extent age.  Our membership secretary previously referenced a new TVOC member who’d chosen not to renew, citing the high costs for them of participating in O events.  You may say a bargain was an understatement when the entry fee was £7 for an adult/family, and as someone pointed out when we raised it from £6 to £7 – “it’s so much cheaper than Odds Farm.”  But the ParkRun has made it part of its DNA to be affordable, and reaps the rewards in diversity of age, gender and socio-economic group.* (I don’t have a comparative source for BO as I can’t find any BO diversity stats or policy since 2017 – I hope I’m just looking in the wrong place!)

 

I’ve summarised the before and after the changes – make your own judgement if this is necessary or not.

 

 

Years up to March 2020

Proposal

Adult/family entry*

£7

(EMIT or a SIAC dibber was always included in cost)

£10

NOW £8 + NEW £1 (dibber hire) + NEW £1 ‘late entry penalty’*

Risk if your plans change

None, paid on day** or reserved with no commitment*

Lose your entry fee (though a very good CV19 policy)

Toilets

We’ve been hiring these in since Autumn 2016

‘Toilets to be provided’ [always have been]

Other

Two maps included  (if reqd.)

Control descriptions

 

No control descriptions

Profitability

We made a 34% gross contribution~ to the club’s reserves in this period, and over the last 4yrs contributed on average £2,300 per year (about half an SI timing system)

Pre-entry fees are a new cost (told these average 65p). Headline cost for families rises +43%*

*Families have children ill on the day, won’t enjoy extreme weather etc – the old system didn’t penalise them for deciding on the day and the club shared the risk on turnout on the day (only 3 events in the last 5 yrs didn’t cover their costs, (2 of these lost less than £10!)

**But what about COVID.  It’s sensible to halt EOD and require pre-booking if it's temporary, but the proposal doesn’t say this is a temporary measure.  Things have a habit of sticking, eg. expensive and inflexible pre-entry systems, for an informal event series

~We have to make a surplus to cover central costs of insurance, marketing, depreciation of equipment etc.  Our Treasurer always indicated £2000 /yr was sufficient (some might argue it should merely break even as a recruitment platform).

 

What I suggest

Have a look at the proposal and don’t stay silent if you have a view, either way.  Email chai...@tvoc.org.uk – I know Chris would genuinely like to hear your views, discretely if desired.

 

Keep original entry fees.  We don’t need to add £3 (+43%) to the entry cost for new families to cover our temporary need for a pre-entry system (c. 65p /entry).  36% (£2.52) of your entry* already goes to the club's reserves.  A smaller temporary surcharge or covering from our reserves would be much more proportionate.  The club has £16k in the bank and growing, and has made a profit throughout the pandemic. 

 

There are arguably bigger fish to fry than this, but let’s not spoil a good thing.   Events need to be made easier for families (TVOC are among the best logistically) and financially less penalising for them to progress (more a Level C issue), if we are to have a subsequent generation of orienteers.  I hope you find the above a constructive reflection, but I emphasise I wouldn’t like to detract in any way from the considerable efforts of the volunteers or those behind this proposal, who always work with the best intentions at heart.  Indeed the proposal makes many other great suggestions to innovate and improve the series.

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TVOC Sat series, 18 months to March 2020


Thanks for your time reading


Nat

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