Over the past two weeks, I’ve sent emails to over 1000 former members of the AKA with a short survey to try and get some better information on why people fail to renew.
Of course, we get the usual answers that we expect — not enough activity in my area (Central Utah), no attention to my specialized interest (underwater flying), not enough festivals in my area, I don’t compete any more, or the all-too-prevalent, I’ve lost interest in kites and taken up golf…
Those answers are sincere but in many cases, the are either a reflection of changing personal priorities, geographical isolation, or the diversity of kiting and the fact that the Association cannot be all things to all people as intensely as all people wish.
We get answers that challenge the balance of member interests — too much focus on competition, not enough focus on competition, too much stuff for beginners, not enough stuff for beginners, too much time spent on convention, not enough time spent on …. well, you get the idea.
Kiting is wonderfully diverse and we do our very best to make the Association meaningful to each and every member. But we can always do better.
We get answers that highlight failures — you sent my magazine to the wrong address, I didn’t get a renewal form, you messed up my scores.
Those answers help us identify weaknesses in our program. With over 4,000 members, our office does make occasional mistakes. But when we do, we need to identify the individual problem and fix it. And if we see trends, we need to fix them as well.
And finally, we get answers that frustrate us — overseas membership is too expensive for just a magazine. I agree but don’t know how to reduce the cost of postage.
An interesting part of the survey asks past members what they found most beneficial about membership. We then compare those answers to those given by current members. Not surprising, the responses are similar.
- Camaraderie and the chance to interact with other fliers
- Kiting Magazine and other publications
- Liability Insurance for individuals and events
- 10% discount with members merchants
- National Kite Month
- The AKA web page < www.aka.kite.org >
In very simple terms, the AKA insurance program is costing about $10 per member, the magazine is costing $15 to print and mail, which leave about $5 for maintaining our staffed office and offering other programs. So it is good to know that our primary benefits are pleasing people — even the ones that choose not to renew.
There is one other point I wanted to make about the survey, and this is really the reason I decided to write this column.
About one third of the people responding to why they chose not to renew cited changes in personal finances. Some people had lost jobs. Some had been faced unexpected health problems. Some had married, had children, or divorced.
I was struck by the number of people who said they were still interested in kite flying, but couldn’t afford to be members. These aren’t folks that spend $300 a year on new kites and can pay for a membership with the 10% discount they receive. These aren’t people who choose between one extra beer each month or belonging to the AKA. These are friends that have confronted serious and significant life issues and decided to give up a part of their kite life because they felt the $30 had to go somewhere else.
Sadly, the AKA can’t afford to waive dues for 100 or more members — even if we could identify who the most deserving people were. But maybe you and I can.
Each of us knows someone who might benefit from a boost to their kite life this holiday season. Maybe that boost is a new kite or kite book. Or maybe it is a subscription to Kiting and an AKA membership.
Remember that you can check if someone is a member by accessing the online AKA membership directory. Just go to the member-only “Clubhouse” on the web page. If you want to buy a membership, just complete the online form or drop an email to our headquarters at <email@example.com>. You can also phone 800-252-2550.
Tell Executive Director Mel Hickman that you want to buy someone a membership. You can do anonymously if you wish. He’ll take care of all the rest.
Have a happy and safe Holiday Season, everyone. Stay warm! And remember to have fun – and to spread the cheer – out there…