Paul Buswell wrote:I'd be interested to know how other Clubs handle the matter of members for whom finding the annual subscription is a real or an apparent difficulty.
In the past couple of years we've been able to use local grant funding to heavily subsidise members on means-tested state benefits (or on DLA) but that funding has now run out.
In reality this means that the funding has been used to subsidise all members. Had it not existed in the past either the general fees would have been higher so as to allow reduced fees for those members with limited financial resources, or these members would (probably/possibly?) have left leading to the cost of the venue being shared by fewer people - again higher costs for those remaining.
The view has been expressed in the past that some members pleading difficulty with the subs were not being completely dispassionate and were simply choosing to make chess a lower priority for their available personal recreational spend. There may well be an element of truth in that, but my concern is that requiring full subs from everyone (our AGM's default position in the past) will lose members, and there is no doubt that the recent subsidy has both retained members and brought in new ones.
You seem to be doubly unfortunate in your members. We operate a two tier system with the economically inactive entitled to pay half the rate of the economically active. However all the economically inactive who have either built up reserves or have access to pension income insist on paying the full rate, and no-one seems interested in who is on which rate.
Maybe as a club with about 20 members we are all reasonably well known to each other so that temptations to freeload or worry about others pulling their full weight are diminished.
It is difficult to get upset about the prospect of losing members who are not prepared to pay the full cost of their leisure activity. Are they the captains and drivers, or those who think they are doing you a favour by condescending to turn out for you? Yes, the number of chessplayers is not so high that one should casually discard some, but there are limits.
Do you take a hard line or a soft one?
A soft one.
Payment in installments is allowed where cash flow is tight, and we will agree a fee for those joining part way through the season or who is not looking for much in the way of matchplay. Overall fees are set so as to roughly meet our expenditure for the seasonand make a small profit or losss depending on the current state of reserves. Clearly we can't factor in any mid-season joiners into these calculations and being gentle with them on arrival seems a good way of encouraging them to stay.
Who decides how to respond to particular cases?
Nominally the club membership through the AGM could stipulate how we act. In practice it tends to be a combination of the chair (me!) and the treasurer, possibly consulting anyone who might give us an extra insight into the particular case.
Usual rules apply:
"If you don't like the way we run the club we are more than happy to step aside and let someone else take our place."
We haven't managed to escape yet.
To me a club isn't just a group of people with a common interest. Hopefully they will support each other too. Though it would mean raising subscriptions above the bare minimum there seems to be a good case for having a fund within a club for providing financial support for members. This might be used not only to keep down the charges of those with limited resources, but also help defray some of the costs of a junior playing in a prestigious tournament, or for other support of the club's choosing.