By Jan Birley
Riding clubs are all run by volunteers and often, those volunteers are not very IT literate, so the challenge was to build a system that would be easy to use yet functionally rich enough to actually ease the burden of committee members.
I took over as membership secretary for Selby and District Riding Club (SDRC) at the end of 2015 because I wanted to give something to my club and I wanted to make more riding friends in my area after my daughter went to university.
I was immediately struck by the amount of time it was taking me to process memberships and the huge margin for error, copying and pasting across information from previous years’ sheets for returning members, typing up information for hard copy forms, trying to find the next available unused membership number, to name but a few of the challenges. Even as an IT professional, I managed to make a complete mess of filtering new & renewed members to submit to BRC! The level of time and effort I was faced with was a good deal more than I thought I was signing up for when I volunteered.
And so, the Riding Club Administration System was born! Comprising two different portals, working together to make one complete solution, it offers an admin system for the committee to use and a members’ system with individual accounts for all members.
For me, it has been revolutionary. It has taken a little time to encourage members to use the system. We’ve forced it by publishing schedules and results on the admin portal for members to access through their accounts. The list of members that the admin system creates and holds is the basic starting point. When a new member joins online, their entry is automatically created and members are responsible for keeping their own personal details (address, email address, phone no, etc) up to date. It also auto generates the next available membership number, based on the current year and the 3-digit club code. That alone saves your membership secretary a huge amount of time.
The system allows you to choose a date range and will export all of the new and renewing members in the correct format for submission to the British Riding Club (BRC). Using the admin system, you can upload and share documents (policies, schedules, club results, etc) directly with members without having to use email. You can create different distribution lists and email directly from within the admin system – giving the club committee a single source of correct email addresses rather than keeping their own versions in spreadsheets that are often out of date. If a committee member is away/unavailable all other committee members have access to the same information. These are just a few of the key benefits that our club is now enjoying.
With a central source, now, of all information for the club in one cloud-based admin system, every committee member has access to every piece of information the other committee members are working on. This gives us consistency in being able to handle all enquiries, queries and memberships, even if the responsible officer is away or unavailable for any reason.
All we need to do now is persuade BRC to endorse the system and help get it out there to all clubs!!