The ECF Board is planning on increases in membership numbers.
In his report to the last (2018) Finance Council meeting the Finance Director wrote:
And in his report for the upcoming (2019) Finance Council meeting, the Finance Director has written:FD's report to the 2018 Finance Council meeting wrote:In the current year there are good indications that Membership numbers are growing; this is probably explained by the changes in Game Fee application and the growth in junior players. The Board has decided to set targets to grow its Membership numbers by 5% per annum from 2018/19 to 2020/12 (500 new members has actually been used in the calculation). This will increase the capacity of the Federation to support its activities…
So: the Board is expecting 500 new members a year for the three years 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21. That was the position last year and it’s the position this year.FD's report to the 2019 Finance Council meeting wrote:The budget has been based on a growth of 500 members per annum until 2020/21 with an increase in membership fees in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
(Note that these increases are nothing to do with extra memberships to be brought in by the Development Officer. Those increases are separate, as the Challenges for English Chess paper makes clear.)
The increases in membership numbers are important because the federation is relying on them (as well as increases in membership fees) to turnaround its financial position. The federation made a loss in 2017/18 of £18,101. It forecasts a loss of £52,137 for 2018/19. It’s budgeting for a loss of £11,760 in 2019/20 – after which reserves will be down to £37,146. And then it’s projecting gains of £7,251 and £6,668 for 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively. To achieve the turnaround, membership income will increase from a forecast £181,963 in 2018/19 to £228,844 in 2019/20 and then to £260,615 in each of 2020/21 and 2021/22. These figures all come from the management accounts spreadsheet provided for the upcoming meeting.
So where will the increases in membership numbers come from? Are there new leagues, congresses and internal club tournaments? Are there events which haven’t previously been graded but which now will be?
Taking a look at the Workings page of the management accounts spreadsheet to find out more you notice a few things – see the summary table below (I’ve added some columns to show changes from one year to the next and also a column to show membership counts as at 12 April):
1. The forecast membership numbers for 2018/19 are 451 down on the budget for the same period.
2. The budgeted membership numbers for 2019/20 represent an increase of 994 on the forecast figures for 2018/19.
3. The budgeted membership numbers for 2020/21 represent an increase of 571 on the budgeted figures for 2019/20.
The gains posited for 2018/19 seem to have shifted back a year. You wonder: why is this and, if you’re significantly out for one year, will the same be true for subsequent years?
Looking at the changes in more detail, there are, what appear to me to be, some oddities. Why would budgeted Junior Silver and Gold counts for 2019/20 be lower than the corresponding forecasts for 2018/19? Why would there be a big increase in Junior Bronze members in 2019/20 (over the forecast for 2018/19) – and why would people acquire Junior Bronze memberships when Junior Silver memberships are available for the same price? Maybe there are explanations for these changes from year to year but at the moment I’m wondering: have the projections been thought through and are they realistic?
Switching over to grading lists to get another perspective, albeit of player counts rather than member counts, I can see that 13,858 players had a grade in January 2019 against 13,485 players with a grade in the July 2018 grading list (August revision): an increase of 373. That looks not too bad. However, further examination shows that 262 of the increase is for players aged 18-and-under and this matters so far as the finances are concerned because charges for junior members are set low (and are even free for first-time members).
So where are the increased in the membership numbers coming from - and how will they be split across the categories such that the projected increases in income will be realised? So far as I can see this hasn’t been stated anywhere. Does anyone know? I hope there’s an answer because if there isn’t I think the financial implications could be serious.