Birding Organisations

Subject: Birding Organisations
From: RAOU Publicity <>
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 1996 13:21:26 +1100 (EST)
Re Bird Organisations

Tony Palliser (and others) have written on the issue of the small
memberships of Bird organisations:

"I have always been quite surprised even shocked at the number of birders
that I know that are not members of the RAOU. How many more  must there be?
The interest is there, it would appear to be a marketing  problem!"

Perhaps the RAOU in the past has not been very effective in communicating to
people that it exists and that it welcomes new members and that those
members actually personally and collectively benefit from their membership.
It is my job to redress this fact. (I am Bill Fenton the almost new
marketing Manager of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.)

"I would lay odds that not many of you have met a non birder for example
that has heard of the RAOU?"

The name Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union does not roll off the
tongue for many people nor is it easily recalled in the fast moving media
world.  The RAOU has voted to redress this and the new name Birds Australia
will be launched towards the end of February next year.

"So as a group why don't we try and conduct some sort of brainstorming
session to come up with ideas that may increase the membership of the  RAOU?
(assuming that is what is wanted and are ready for)  To start the ball
rolling perhaps:"

A great idea but is the open forum of the Internet the best place for a
brainstorm ? One of the first principles of this process is that all ideas
no matter how superficially stupid they appear should be given equal
respect. The Email is too easily used to puncture and prematurely ridicule
provocative new ideas. Why don't those who wish to contribute send me their
ideas and I will collate them and publish them anonymously.?

Wingspan could be sold in newsagents?    

This is an idea that has obvious merit but also considerable problems. I
tend towards the view that says that to achieve sales we would have to
compromise the pleasure that long standing members who pay $44 + per annum
get from Wingspan in order to attract a $6.95 sale.

"Advice should be sought from a professional marketing manager?  Is there
one among us?"  

Bingo. That's me. I have been keeping a low profile partly because I am on a
steep learning curve.Also partly because I am fairly new and lastly because
whilst I have found Birdos to be an extremely friendly bunch, some are
unforgiving of those without a level of bird knowledge approaching their
own.(That's an issue I would like to return to later)

"Discounts to members that find other members? " 

Yes. A great idea.
"More activity via the Internet". 
Yes. A great idea.

"Exchange advertising space with other organisations e.g. Paddy Pallins,
Mapping Companies etc"  
Yes. when it works

Offer some sort of program for students? 
Erect pay as you enter hides etc. 

Hmmmm. Difficult but some user pays element may be appropriate, but I am not
personally in favour of it.

"2. There are far too many organisations A personal frustration of mine is
having to be a member of so many organisations, It provides grounds for
dropping ones membership?  how  many members do not resubscribe the
following year?   I would for one would gladly pay more to be a member of
just one or two per year.  Perhaps some of these could merge?  I don't think
there is an easy answer to this one either."

As newcomer to birding I wholeheartedly agree. But what really amazes me
about birdos is the variety of interests we all have and the passion behind
these interests and hence the depth and force with which they hold and
express opinions.  For any one organisation to provide the sort of
satisfaction and service that all birding interested people need (and hence
save members heaps of money and deliver a better service) it first must do a
better job for the "special interest" groups that constitute the club.

But even before this can happen the members must give the organisation
permission to recruit broadly from the birding world.  To be brave enough to
recruit members who are not exactly like them and don't exactly have their
knowledge, interests or passions.

As a marketing person I am not focused on the other bird organisations.  I
think that we should all focus upon the 17 million plus Australians from
whom we could expect to attract support, financial assistance and maybe
members. It is the responsibility of all of us in birding to emphasise that
no matter what your special interest or area of strong personal
understanding, there is something deeply satisfying about observing and
studying birds.

If members of the single issue (or smaller, or declining bird clubs) could
be confident the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union would look after
their members' interests then I think that they would be more confident
about joining forces with the RAOU.

In summary then, I believe for those of us who are already members of a bird
club to enjoy the benefits of a large, aware membership we must first: 

A) Give our organisations the permission to recruit broadly in the public
arena.(Or give our organisations permission to join forces.)
B) Allocate resources to do this.
C) Make these new members feel genuinely welcome.
D) Offer them the type and frequency of activities and actions that satisfy
their initial reasons for joining.
E) Ask them to stay with us for a little while, confident that they will
find birds and conservation a life-long pleasure.

I hope this personal view of the situation goes someway to answering some of
the points raised.  I would be happy to hear of all points of view.

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