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Hard Times for EFONA

 
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IFHP
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Joined: 03 May 2007
Posts: 1506
Location: Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:31 am    Post subject: Hard Times for EFONA Reply with quote

We are facing a financial crises at EFONA and I would like to generate some member discussion and suggestions here.

Our last crises came in 2007 when we suddenly lost our editor. That crises was solved, and now we are facing a new one -- financial collapse. Renewals from the Winter 09 issue were far less than they should have been. As a result the club's bank balance has dipped to about $158. The cost of producing a 16-page newsletter is about $600. I can reduce that by about $100 by dropping from 16 to 12 pages.

Here is what I propose to do:

I will "loan" the club enough to put out a 12 page newsletter and then ask
the membership (which by the way has slipped to around 140-150 members) to respond to a poll. The question is to find out how many people would be willing to received their newsletter electronically.

The ideal would be that those members who wish to receive their newsletters electronically would receive a 50% dues cut and those that didn't, would continue with paper at the standard dues. My concern is that if we don't receive enough renewals from the Spring issue, there will be no money to print anything come Summer.

But even in a worse case scenario and we lose the newsletter, the club should not have to die. We can still operate as an informal network through EnFoStuff AND I have just invested a bunch of my own money in creating a static cling EFONA decal (which will hopefully be distributed with the Spring newsletter).

I am loking for feedback from EFONA members (past and present) on this situation.

Michael
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IFHP
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Joined: 03 May 2007
Posts: 1506
Location: Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a private message from 105E Tech Advisor Pete Snyders that he said would be okay to post here:

Quote:
Hi Michael,

Offering electronical newsletters may be the only way to go even though I prefer the normal newsletters.

Some suggestions would be to increase the dues, offer club Logo merchandise i.e. sweaters, T-shirts, patches, cups, etc. I can talk to Brian Holmes who owns a shop in San Jose that can produce all these items. Every year he participates in the Palo Alto British Car Meet (now the Brisbane BC Meet ) and sells items from his mechandise booth. He owns a 307E. Members can purchase from him and he can donate some of the proceeds to the club. These items would be available to everyone not only to members. We can check out how 105Speed operates and get some ideas of what type of merchanise they sell.

I always encourage new EnFo owners that want info to contact and join the EFONA.

Regards,
Pete


Last edited by IFHP on Mon Mar 16, 2009 12:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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IFHP
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Joined: 03 May 2007
Posts: 1506
Location: Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a an e-mail from E83W Tech Advisor Les Foster:

Quote:
Michael: I'm sorry to hear of the situation. I guess the world financial woes are touching everything. I'm fine with an 'E' version of the newsletter. Our Branch of the OECC already does this. Perhaps the free membership for Tech Advisors, etc. should be suspended. What about soliciting paid advertising? -Les
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IFHP
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Location: Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Patrick Wilson, our Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac TA.

Quote:
Hi Michael,

I certainly appreciate the newsletter. The British Saloon Car Club of Canada sends out a significant portion of its newsletters electronically. This club was formed at about the time the internet became popular so had a good start.

Am guessing that 75% of EFONA are electronically connected or have decent access to a PC via relatives etc.

One question... Do you, or EFONA, have a Pay Pal account?

Patrick
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IFHP
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Location: Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This message is from John Beresford, the editor of The Dynamo, the newsletter of the South Vancouver Island branch of the Old English Car Club of BC. The Dynamo switched to a PDF format at the beginning of the year.

Quote:
Hi Michael,


I would say that the transition has been, on the whole, successful.


We did provide the option for members to receive either a PDF or a hardcopy, though they had to inform us if they wanted the hardcopy. (If a member did not respond, they got a PDF.) In 2008, out of a membership of about 110, we had 17 people request mailed hardcopies. Nearly all of these members do not have e-mail addresses, so only a few who could accept a PDF, in fact requested hardcopies. Our membership is primarily older folks, some of which have only recently acquired computers, so all in all, we were pleased with the response.


I think one of the things that helped in the transition was the move to colour, which members seemed to view very positively. Also, most other clubs and organizations are distributing newsletters this way now, so it was not unexpected when we did so too.


We did not reduce our fees specifically as a result of going to PDF's, rather it was a case of our dues to the parent OECC Society being reduced and also that we have accumulated a rather large surplus. However, had we not moved to electronic distribution, we probably would have had to look at a fee increase, particularly since we had lost our "free" printing. In setting our 2009 fees (at $25), it was felt by the Executive that $25 was not an unreasonable sum for what the club offers to its members.


In technical terms, the move to PDF has resulted in a lot less work for me and has been quite trouble-free, with only a very few instances of undeliverable mail (due to recipient's over-the-limit mailboxes). We can accommodate late-breaking news (mostly of our monthly runs and meeting presentations) right up until the newsletter is emailed. We can also, if and when the need arises, increase the page count, such as this month when a poster of the upcoming Restoration Fair was included. Doing this before would have put us up to the next postage level, which was prohibitively expensive.


So, in summary, my advice would be to give it a try. If the financial situation is explained, I think most people will accept a PDF.


John


In a follow up message, John went on to say that he does still print up 17 black & white copies to mail to members without e-mail.
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IFHP
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Follow up from Patrick Wilson when I asked him about the safety of Pay Pal.

Quote:
Hi Michael,

At first I was skeptical of PayPal. Having used it about 100 times it appears to be pretty well encrypted. My wife watches every penny and its always correct - even the currency adjustments are better than from our local bank.

I would advise keeping it on a dedicated credit card with a low spending limit. I do know of one fraud case involving the purchase of a motor on eBay. However it was a vendor that was at fault and the credit card company (VISA) made good on the loss.

I pay my dues at BSCCC club meets and usually buy a hat or T-shirt at the same time. But I am sure that the treasurer will accept PayPal. Elva will know more than me.

No problem making this a discussion thread.

Patrick


Would members like to pay for their dues throgh Pay Pal. Beyond security concerns, I wonder what Pay Pal charges for the privlage?
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105epaul



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 206
Location: London England

PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Michael,

I would like to join EFONA but as I'm in the UK I would probably have to send you a bank draft which would cost as much again as the membership itself. It would certainly be a lot easier for me to pay by Paypal which I have done on many occasions with no problem.

Paul
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enfoprefect



Joined: 04 Feb 2009
Posts: 143
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael, Paypal seems to be secure all right. As for charges, They have a small minimum per transaction and charge 3 or 4 per cent, as I recall. I don't have the details right now. The rate varies with the volume but I think EFONA would be fairly low volume.
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IFHP
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Joined: 03 May 2007
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Location: Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gary Kiernan (E-Ford Lines proof reader) had this to say:

Quote:
Hi Guys
When I first became a member in the early nineties when Bob started this thing up, this was the only means of communication between a small group spread across the US. There was no internet. Some of us would meet at Carlisle, but most of us communicated through the mag.

Unfortunately today, the internet does it all quicker and cheaper.
In recent times we have had issues that contain event info for events that were already over. The classifieds are of little value due to, a] the time between issues, b] the advent of Craigs List and Ebay.

Like many, I contribute to a Zephyr chat group on Yahoo, and I go to Enfostuff.com. I visit both of these on a daily basis, usually. Enfostuff often has stuff for sale or wanted in real time, so is very useful.

Pete, I read your email and would say that, for me anyway, I rarely buy any sort of club regalia, and while it might be a source of auxilliary income, I doubt it will put us back in the black. I also do not think raising dues on the few remaining loyalists will do anything but drive the final nail into the coffin. Like Pete I prefer a physical, rather thatn virtual mag, but I fear it is inevitable. I subscribe to the BSCCOC and they offer both versions. For now I get mine delivered by snail mail, but I know very soon it will be on-line only.

Probably the best bet would be to integrate the mag into Enfostuff.com. This means that someone smarter than me will figure out how to revamp the front page to display current articles and stories, while the other categories remain for tech help, classified, chat and general support.
Regards
Gary
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IFHP
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phil Bass, our Mk I/II Cortina TA had this to say:

Quote:
Hello EFONA et al.

Here's my .025 cents worth.....

The English have a saying that I like, (me Mum's from Herfordshire), needs - must, what needs to be done, must be done. If dues cannot support a paper newsletter, it must be reformatted and relocated. I'm old school and prefer paper. My local Pontiac club has an e-newsletter, I just print it out when I want one.

I'm sure you know Michael, your loan may never be repaid. However if you decide to send one more newsletter, as a sendoff, and to inform everyone where the club has 'moved' to, we would all appreciate your financial sacrifice.

Cheers.

Phil Bass, Vista, CA, USA
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IFHP
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone who has commented (good feedback was also received from James Stanchfield and Judy Berrian).

Tomorrow night I will write my Directors Message for the Spring newsletter, and I think that the general thrust will be as discussed above.

I can see that there is life beyond a printed newsletter, other clubs have gone through this before and survived. Obviously some special accomodation will be required for those few who still don't use e-mail or the Internet (some great members are in that group).

I can recall that a member suggested going digital about five years ago and that I recoiled in horror. Tough times force changes that we wouldn't otherwise want to make.

Michael
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IFHP
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James' message:

Quote:
First a little background, I created EnFoStuff because I had purchased an Anglia, and could not find much info for U.S. owners online. Shortly after creation, Michael contacted me, and has been a great help with the site, which has (in my opinion) worked will with EFONA. I have discussed these issues with him briefly before, and here's my $0.02 worth.

Some questions we need to ask
-Why was EFONA created?
-What does EFONA offer that the website can not?
-What % of club members, can't/won't/don't want to use the website?

personally, at this point I think a tiered membership structure may work well.

full/super member
-pays full dues
-receives paper newsletter
-receives yearly paper "members listing"
-receives stickers or other logoed merchandise
-has the same access as members below this level

1/2 associate/member
-1/2 dues
-access to paying members section of the website/forum
-receives yearly electronic "members listing"
-can purchase logoed mecheandise

internet/free member
-no dues
-access to publicity available website/forum only
--------------------
I can set up the forum to have a members only section. As well as list a persons membership status in their profile. I believe I could also do this for sections of the main site.

I think it's important to keep the club in some form. people are likely to be more serious about something they pay for, compared to something they get for free.

I really don't feel we will get the same great quality of articles for the newslettter if it is only going to be published in a online format

I think they club would be more likely to get members to renue if there is a paypal account, to make it easier to pay.

The only problem I forsee with a tiered membership format, is there may be some preceived "i'm better than you, because I pay" situation going on.

Also the decision on what "members" get verses, what, non-members get.

Another thing that I feel the club w/dues can get done that the website can not, is to create and promote events. I'm sure if events were left up to the forum, decisions would never get made, and there would be no $ to make it happen.

Anyhow these are just my opions, take them for what they are. I'd love to hear anybody's feedback on these ideas or other ideas.

I'm willing to be quite flexible with the website and/or forum.

-James
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beast02



Joined: 15 Jul 2007
Posts: 62
Location: Snohomish

PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael, I would like to join, what do you suggest? Pay the dues, or wait for this situation to be fixed. I'd be interested in either format, paper or electronic.

-Bryan
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IFHP
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Location: Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bryan,

The issue that is going to press is soon will be the last paper issue. If you want to join in time for it, print out the application elsewhere in this section and send it in with the new reduced dues of $15.00

Thanks and hope we get to meet sometime.

Michael
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IFHP
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PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was gratifying to do my weekly visit to the EFONA P.O. Box and find no less than 13 completed surveys waiting for me. Thanks!

Michael
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