IMBA has determined that the current Chapter Program is not economically viable and must be restructured. The reason for this is the loss of Subaru as a sponsor and the very poor chapter retention rate of 51%. Though not all the details are known, the retention rate is most likely due to the 60/40 revenue sharing split in which IMBA receives 60% of membership dues and the chapters receive 40%. For the 60%, IMBA provides numerous services to chapters that help them operate, provide advocacy support at a local level, and representation at the state and federal levels.
For GROC this has been a good partnership, and sharing memberships with IMBA has been a win-win. However, the recent revisions to the Chapter Program needed to make it sustainable may not be in our best interest. The GROC board have been discussing the pros and cons of this newly proposed setup and we want our members to be informed of the situation, to ask questions if you have them, and provide feedback before we make a decision to stick with the program or leave and go our own way.
GROC has relied on IMBA in several key ways. First, IMBA as a professional advocacy organization, has given GROC credibility with local land managers and County/Town officials. Second, they have provided us with membership services which handle all of our membership data, money transactions, communications revolving around membership, and the use of an online membership database which we use for online communications. Third, we have access to a Regional Director who is there to provide support in a wide variety of areas from advocacy to non-profit legalities. For our Chapter, this is what 60% of our membership dues pay for. This roughly equates to $4000 - $5000 per year. Of the 40% that we get, about half goes to paying for our insurance, and the other half pays for tools, materials for trail work, awards, communication expenses, legal expenses, and miscellaneous items associated with events and meetings.
Under the new chapter program IMBA will retain the 60/40 revenue sharing model, increase the base membership fee from $35 to $49, replace Regional Directors with Subject Matter Specialists, and will update membership services software.
Of concern to us is the increased membership fee and how much we are spending for membership services. After some initial research, we now know that these services can be found elsewhere for much cheaper. The catch is that GROC would have to find a “membership coordinator,” a position which may require a stipend in order to make it feasible.
All that said, if we do decide to leave the Chapter Program, GROC will still continue to support IMBA by becoming a supporting organization. This arrangement would cost $500 per year, keep us connected to IMBA to help support the advocacy work they do at the state and national levels, and keep the door open if we ever needed the occasional fee based service/expertise. Under this setup, we would also encourage our membership to join IMBA, separately.
It is also worth noting that GROC does not deem IMBA to be in opposition to our organizational mission or our goals at this time. The decision we are faced with is based on wise use of finances and what will be best for the local riding community.
Finally, for those members considering whether to renew their memberships, we would encourage you to do so if you wish to continue to support IMBA and their efforts. However, if you are only concerned with supporting GROC specifically, we would advise you to hold off on your renewal until further notice. We will be making a decision on this matter in approximately 2 weeks.