In the last Bulletin which you will have received a few weeks back, I took the opportunity of updating the membership on various matters. The feedback which I have received seems to suggest that this has been beneficial.
Following on from this, there are two main further areas which I would like to highlight in this newsletter. Both of these are pertinent, especially as the AGM is only a matter of a few days away. The areas concerned are some comments of specific parts of the 2013/14 accounts and a look at the results from our first ever major membership e survey in January.
Firstly, focusing on the accounts. Every member, with the last Bulletin, will have received an Annual Report and Accounts 2013-14 document. I personally hope that like me you find this impressive document enlightening and useful. Due to the document's nature and necessary accounting format, the account section does not really allow any degree of variance analysis of this year's figures compared to last year. I think a few of the more obvious variances however should be explained to the membership.
PRC record receipts were down from £6294 to £4580. At its simplest, less visits were made due to other commitments so less income was received (although other non-revenue generating requests for information from third parties such as the CWGC had an effect also). There was a slight backlog of requests outstanding at October however this has been fully cleared. I can also assure you that members’ enquiries were given preference.
The reduction in cards and calendar expenses ie from £5902 to £748 was a timing issue whereby certain related costs were absorbed early into the 2013 accounts. Concerning the magazine the cost of production figures, Stand To costs are up from £40582 to £56172 and for the Bulletin up from £40437 to £51213. As you will be aware 2014 was a special year. The Stand To 100th production was a well-received indeed. It met with universal acclaim. The cost to produce this edition was substantially higher in terms of editing, production and postage. Similarly there were substantial costs in producing the Bulletin Special supplement and similarly incremental costs were incurred in producing the Bulletin November edition. We strongly feel that the quality of these editions well merited the extra expenditure.
AGM costs rose from £5278 to £8574. This is primarily due to a change in accounting procedures whereby in the past some of the AGM expenses had not been allocated to this cost centre. As for advertising, this rose by approximately £5000. The reasons for this are £4000 was spent on filming and £2000 on Media Relations with Sky News/BBC 24. The increase in digital costs can be attributed to the cost of the new centenary website which was agreed by the Executive Committee and the purchase of new computer equipment. As you are aware from the last Bulletin, our Digital Editor David Henderson has decided to stand down after many years sterling service. Again as intimated in the Bulletin apart from recruiting a new Digital editor, a procurement tender exercise will also be carried out for web maintenance.
Moving on, I would like to cover the membership survey. We said we would consult the members and we did. The following is a summary of the responses received as opposed to what action the EC may or may not take. The results of the survey have been circulated to the entire EC for consideration. Every member of the EC has their own area of responsibility so they will be looking at it not only from their perspective but also from the position of the EC as a whole.
May we firstly sincerely thank those who responded? There are some very good ideas and thoughts. A fair bit of thinking has gone into this by those who replied. The survey was issued by email to 5270 from which we received 1361 responses this being 26% of the original number emailed. There were 37 questions.
Of the respondents 89% were male and 11% female. 78% of the respondents were aged 55 or over, 95% were over 45. The bulk of respondents were single members with 87% being based in the UK. In terms of value ‘Value for Money’, 89% said it was good or excellent giving an overall satisfaction average rating of 4.32 out of 5. Similar figures were obtained re ‘happiness ‘with membership which achieved a 4.59 average rating out of 5. These figures are very gratifying.
In respect of the numbers attending branch meetings, the survey indicated that 45% did attend at least one meeting but 55% never attended. The survey revealed however that 83% thought branch talks were good or excellent.
Regarding the Forum and Listening Post, the majority of those who responded voted that if they were restarted that they would not use them.
The quality of the two magazines received average ratings of 4.62 out of 5 for the Stand To and 4.72 for Bulletin with nearly 80% happy at the current frequency of their publication. Although some expressed an interest in having online versions available over 50% of UK respondents were not interested in an electronic version.
In terms of the e newsletter (now TRENCH LINES), 84% thought it good or excellent and as regards the main web site 80% thought it good or excellent. Both of these results are on a par with the satisfaction expressed for magazines. Concerning social media, there were 319 responses of which the vast majority (71%) used Facebook. Twitter users were 30% and Linked in 14% (the total is more than 100% as some used more than one). Others also responded saying they used YouTube and/or Flickr and 66% were in favour of more educational videos being made available.
Regarding goods/commodities, to the question ‘Have you ever purchased Back copies of ST, Trench Maps WFA Apparel’- 509 (37%) answered that they had purchased one or more of the above. In terms of which goods would you like to buy in future, the top 5 in the league table reveals the following items: Polo shirts, Mugs, Ties, T-shirts and Rugby shirts.
The opportunity of ‘free text answers ‘to a few questions was very revealing. The vast bulk of those who replied, as above, were happy at what we are doing and the free text answers back this up. However within this, there were criticisms which of course we will look at. There were also many other good ideas concepts or questions for consideration by the committee. A few such pertinent areas concern the branches, the magazines and the resumption of the sale of branded goods.
I feel that I must point out that our organisation is run by volunteers who put hours of unpaid work and effort into it. The results show that we are getting a lot right indeed. We know that we cannot meet the expectations of every member all the time. I, for example, just do not have the time to trawl various social networking sites so that I can answer views made re the WFA. Such answers may also need a committee answer as opposed to an individual one. Much better in my view that if a member is seriously hacked off with something, just simply let me or anybody on the EC know. I am not saying you will get the answer you want but you will get an answer.
To that extent, we certainly expect criticism and will take any on board. However, when such criticism is directed in a vile manner in anonymous responses towards members of the EC personally, I cannot accept this. A few (only a few) comments crossed the boundaries of plain decency and are seriously disappointing. The survey has been a great exercise and as I said before, there will be more. Again may I say thank you to those who responded. It is much appreciated. The results revealed that we are getting a lot right but there is also room for improvement.
In closing, I am also delighted with the positive feedback we have received regarding the DVD which was included in the last Bulletin. This was a new initiative which we have tried and from the excellent comments which we have received, we will certainly consider repeating this periodically. I am led to believe that a very small number of copies of the DVD may be faulty and do not play correctly. If the copy you received is in this category, please contact Sarah at the WFA office and she will send you a replacement.