Hello after the ACBL Board of Directors fall meetings from Orlando, Florida. In many respects the Board continued to wrestle with many of the same issues as we have been lately. Priority issues in my mind are configuration of the organization, financial health, and membership. I will cover those issues and others here.
There have been a variety of proposals to reduce the number of districts in the ACBL. At the moment there does not seem to be much support to do that. There are also proposals to keep 25 districts but change how representation on a much smaller Board of Directors would be done. One idea is to have a Board of nine members who are elected across the U.S, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda with no regional representation. I am opposed to both proposals and at the moment they are stalled but not completely finished.
Our financial status is now positive due to some belt tightening and eventually having one year membership fees going up. The details are not yet released but one year dues are being raised and yearly reductions will be offered for those who pay for two or three years all at once.
Finding new members and keeping the ones we have are constant priorities for the entire organizations. Current programs are generating something over 12,000 new members. The 2017 new membership goal is 12,500. Related to that number is working to reduce losing members for all reasons to 11,000.
The Longest Day 2016 was held on June 20. As most know it is designed to benefit Alzheimer Aid associations in the U.S. and Canada. Over $700,000 was raised this year in total. In District 21 Sonoma Valley Unit 512 raised the most money.
I am Chair of the Education and Marketing ACBL Committee. Our discussion and recommendations were weighted toward strong membership retention. Some of the best ideas came from Paul Cuneo who is the new District Director for District 16 (Texas and Mexico). Some of the membership retention ideas we shared included encouraging members to buy two and three year memberships so we have a longer time for them to get hooked on the game, have current members have a personal contact with them, invite them to all lessons and particularly those that are free, have a committee that will persistently welcome and encourage players, send a welcome packet to new members, assign a club member to stay in contact with and encourage new members, offer supervised play and novice games, pair them with a mentor, guarantee them a partner whenever they want to play, encourage units and clubs to sponsor free plays at some events, enforce Zero Tolerance, and encourage experienced players to stay after the game to discuss hands with new players. Additionally, each unit gets a monthly list of members who have not renewed. Form a committee of volunteers who will contact people who did not renew. Ask those players why they dropped membership and see if their concerns can be answered. Sometimes they simply dropped because they do not have a partner to play with.
The club fee for STACs was raised this year by $1. That raise has been rescinded, probably effective April 1, 2017.
Daylong Robot Tournaments have been approved. The details are being worked out.
If you have ideas for improving our bridge activities please email me at RLSmithD21@aol.com, or chat with me at the table. Take care.
American Contract Bridge League
District 21 Director
ACBL President 2005