Status draft for Graham Hounslow to review
Exploratory work has been carried out towards the objective of a new Guild Membership database and communications system. This has included:
Gathering minutes of previous discussions together
Please see the document on this site:
Assessing packages to see if there is an off the shelf solution we could buy.
There are various packages on the market but the price puts them well outside the reach of a single Guild. Examples are detailed in an internal website document for further reference if needed:
Sussex Guild has a membership database but attempts to contact them to ask for their assistance have been unsuccessful.
Appraisal of Data Management Issues
Data Protection has been highlighted by members as a concern, but it is believed to be reasonable for the Guild to send emails to people who pay subscriptions, with news and events. However, collecting these emails (currently only held by Tower Secretaries) would be a major task and keeping them up to date is also a significant effort.
Whilst the current system contains a lot of duplicated effort and data duplication, the effort is at least spread between a number of people in Secretarial roles (Guild Secretary, District Secretaries and Tower Secretaries), plus a set of emails held within the website and a set in the Guild Report, and the outcome is that people generally receive emails from a known source (a local secretary) which is likely to increase engagement.
Winchester District has their own paper-based database of all members, as well.
Analysis of Information Flow
This has evolved over time and includes:
- Top down cascade of emails from Guild Secretary to District Secretaries to Tower Secretaries then on (by email, word of mouth, and/or posters) to membership. This works well for many members. Problems are sometimes experienced when individuals are ill, or otherwise unable to forward information. Tower Secretaries know that emails from this system are for action not just to read, which is helpful.
- Tower/Cluster email/social media usage; this could be an email group (Yahoo, Google, etc), Whatsapp, or Facebook. Often it is just emails with multiple copies sent by the tower secretary.
- Open District email groups for members (known in A&P, and C&S; Winchester District use Win-Port)
- News and events which are posted into any of these systems known to the website team are copied onto the website and made publicly available. Any member seeking information should (in theory!) find it, but some towers (and some districts) are not making especially good use of this service.
- The website team sends out weekly news summaries to all the known systems, tailored to the geographical area concerned.
Gathering together requirements from members and stakeholders
This was done at the District Officers’ Forum and forms the last section of the writeup:
Exploring Cheap/Free Systems which are small increments away from current practice
Initial work with Mailchimp has not been especially promising due to lack of technical expertise on the part of the experimentor! (RM).
C&S set up an open Google (email) group for members 3 years ago and the keen members have subscribed. Attempts to increase engagement have not been successful.
What works well is a tower-based system that people can just be added to by the local coordinator – only relevant news is posted by the local members; downside is that District and Guild news may well be missing so it can result in insularity.
Two local systems are completely integrated with the Guild website – in one example there is strong engagement in the District and Guild; in the other case, much less. An information system on its own does not create participation. What is required is good information and a local belief that such events are worth attending, as well as friends to attend with to get over initial shyness. However one known strength of this setup is that sporadic attenders (often working age ringers) find it extremely useful to be in the loop even in periods when they cannot go ringing.
Any local bands/clusters which want to have a weekly news added to their system are most welcome – the setup effort of a bespoke news page for them is minimal, and the weekly copying and pasting effort is simple and quick. However the website team currently does 14 of these so is seeking to devolve the weekly task not take on more!!!)
It would be easy to set up a single email group for all members to receive just the weekly news, if they wish, and no other posts. (as opposed to Win-Port which can carry a lot of traffic).
Next Steps for the Guild Database
Rosalind Martin has been working on this project to date, however lacks the IT skills to take it further. Graham Hounslow has offered to take over.