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Wellington Caving Group

Communication Channels

Communications channels are the means by which the group maintains contacts with its members. The web and email have the potential to significantly improve the communication with and between members.

Communication channelFormat
frequency
DistributionContentProsCons
SumpThinkA4 pdf newsletter
monthly
Distributed electronically to the email list, available from websiteTrip and activity descriptions, and group night information, contact informationgood reference for activities, delivered promptly electronically (very economical for club), archived on websiteinformation may be dated or arrive late. In the past delivery has been erratic and late. Requires committed enthusiastic editor to be successful. Requires content from club members
Annual ReportPaper A4, b/w
annual
MembersFormal report of group activitiesFormal report, historical recordNot provided to members for several years. Group officials not solicited for input.
Generally not retained
Monthly meetingMeeting, spoken announcements and notices
monthly
AttendeesSpeaker, with notices and advise of trips.Personal contact with group officials and some trip leadersMembers with families, or conflicting engagements, or who live farther afield (eg Upper Hutt, Kapiti Coast) find it difficult to attend
Officials phoneAd hoc, anytime, eveningAnyone, advertised on SumpThink, brochures, and websitePersonal response to queriesPersonal contact and informationReliant on personís availability.
Do we know what queries we receive?
Email queriesAd hoc, anytimeAnyone, advertised in SumpThink, and website   
WebsiteElectronic web browser, 24x7Anyone with web access. Note web access is available gratis from many librariesTrip list
News page
SumpThink
Constitution
Introduction and how to join
Description of group activities, facilities, and publications
Contacts.
First point of contact for members and prospective members. Can provide as much information as required. Available all the time. Useful resource for members. Can attract new members.
Available to anyone
Limited support from group officials in provision of content.
Hampered by missing information (eg descriptions of all activities and contact details, official activity) and slow turnover of news and updated trip information.
Email listsElectronic messages, 24x7Anyone with email access. Note most people have web access from work or homeGroup announcements
SumpThink
Timely
Members can participate
Members can administer one details (eg change of address), moderators can ensure appropriate use.
Requires support and recognition from group officials.
Requires promotion
requires strong support from Committee
New members packOnce, on joining. Printed materialMembersProvided by NZSS?
Red Book?
Great way to encourage peopleNot currently used by WCG
BrochuresAnnual, or erraticAnyonePromotion of group and activities, eg join the group; new members night; instruction evenings;Distributed via retailers, libraries, community groups, other groupsVariable consistency and quality
Needs support from committee and members
2007-11-17 16.29.39 PB170068 Sian.jpeg: 800x600, 277k (2009 Apr 03 00:00)

Communication Discussion points

Membership Services vs Open Community

Should there be additional services available to members from the website?
Some clubs provide additional services or information to club members via members only sections on their website.
Others view their websites as a portal that attract new members, acts as a community, retains current members, and keeps friends, potential members, and previous members in touch.

Membership of the Wellington Caving Group has its benefits, including

On the WgtnCaving Yahoo!Groups email lists we allow both members and non members to join and participate.

Membership only services:

Pros: encourages (forces) people to join to avail themselves of services
Cons: significant additional overhead to provide and maintain access and security, and to maintain accurate and up to date membership lists, can be abused by sharing of user ids and passwords. Has an element of coerciveness to joining.

Open community:

Pros: try before you buy, allows interested members to stay in contact (eg former group members now resident elsewhere, young families. Non members are encouraged to join though personal contact and attendance on trips, or on perceived benefits, or through wishing to contribute to the group.
Cons: perceived to allow free loading
Use of Email

Email is now a fairly ubiquitous technology. Most people have it at work or at home. It should not be used to replace paper based communications, although if offered as an option some members may choose to, say, receive the SumpThink by email (eg as a PDF) or download it from the website, especially if it arrives earlier than the printed version. In general people prefer to be able to select the level and topics of email (and other communications) they receive. There are a number of providers of quality free (advertising supported) email discussion lists, that not only provide a good service to subscribers, but provide additional web based features to list administrators and moderators. The group has had an excellent run with its existing Yahoo!Groups. Email provides a timely facility to notify group members of group activities, eg the Monthly meeting speaker, or changes in trips, and can be targeted (by group member opt in) to their area of interest. It is an effective way of promoting participation in the group. Recommendations

  • Continue with open services community based club vision
  • Commit to use of email as a means of communicating with club members by general and social committies
  • Use free Yahoo!Groups as service provider, retaining the following:
    • the news list
    • the special interest group
  • SumpThink
    • use by committee to provide access and an archive of committee business, and well as potential use of file sharing and calendar features (as was done previously)
  • Continue to support the webmaster and sumpthink editor in developing the website
  • Consider the website as the first point of contact for many club members and prospective members
  • Make more information available on the website, eg
    • annual report and statistics
    • committee decisions
    • noticeboard information
    • role descriptions
    • club policies