The 'State of the Nation' talk, given by outgoing Chairman, Judith Stinchcombe at last weekend's National Convention
Membership success, hooray! it’s finally growing. Our total is up almost 6% on this time last year, with new member numbers up nearly 10%.
It’s not happened by accident, we’ve been working hard over many years to get the right membership benefits in place, working hard to make people realise what we do and how ALL Naturists benefit, and working hard to make it easy to join and renew.
We continue to send ‘lapsed’ mailings to ex-members with encouragement to return and the results are good. We also have a range of surveys that members complete at various stages allowing us to keep improving the services we provide and the activities we engage in.
No doubt the heatwave and our excellent media profile has helped but the single most important change has been the introduction of the New Member Experience Programme which began in January 2017 and has led to a 45% decrease in the number of members leaving.
The discount that we offer to non-members at our events has also had an effect on joiners, and who would not be impressed with the range and variety of the events we now run, thanks to Mark. Old favourites have been enhanced and there have been brand new events with an increase in the number planned for 2019. We’re also thinking more seriously about tailoring events to specific audiences. Our first NKD festival aimed at younger people and families was a huge success and bodes well for the future of Naturism and of BN. We’ve just launched a brand new - and super looking - events and ticketing website just for BN events.
Our programme of overseas group holidays, arranged with full protection for members, by Chalfont Holidays grew to 10 trips in 2018 including some new destinations. The full programme for 2019 will be announced before the end of the year.
We’ve also embraced the changes out there, and the move away from the private, behind locked doors events and supported/promoted many public ones including clothes-optional theatre and gallery visits, nude dining experiences, and naked exercise including running, fitness classes, yoga and walking.
There is definitely evidence that attitudes are changing - not only are venues more willing to open their doors but the tone of the media is coming more onside. Our friend Dr Keon presented a programme about nudity on the BBC World Service, presenters stripped on BBC Radio Sheffield and created a series of podcasts, Marina Fogle talked about the common sense of not covering up in front of your children, a Guardian opinion piece positively ranted at people for NOT getting naked in the hot weather, unpixellated photos were used in a Hastings information website, and the Sunday Telegraph asked the Tate Gallery why they would even think of turning us down. It’s all good news and we must exploit it.
Major news on campaigning this year with a real breakthrough. Nudity in public has been perfectly lawful for many years but even the police didn’t seem to know it… now they do. Thanks to tireless work from the BN legal team BN have persuaded the Police to make sure all officers know the law and have even created a decision-tree online so that there can be no doubt. That webpage is even linked now from the BN membership card.
Just One Person continues to inspire people to talk about Naturism in their social circles. The forum is full of great stories. We’ve now expanded it to encourage people to ‘Bring One Person’ with them and also ‘Recruit One Person’ to BN membership. We also revised our crib sheet called How to talk about Naturism, which helps you to get the conversations started and answer the difficult questions.
The Great British Skinny Dip venues grew in number again, though not by many. We’d like to see more clubs and swims taking advantage of the free publicity available. We’d also like to see each regional committee mount at least one event. It’s also great to announce that a pool in Wigton, near Carlisle has decided to run their own monthly skinny dip sessions following the success of GBSD events there.
As a volunteer organisation we need people to come forward to help, and for those people to be well supported. In this day and age the former presents a real challenge and we’ve not been terribly good at the latter. After a couple of false starts, a decision was made to make the Volunteer Co-ordinator a part paid position and we are delighted that Pam Fraser has agreed to take on the role. We have high expectations.
We were also pleased to welcome Mark Bass as our new Vice Chairman and Edwin Kilby as our new International Officer. They both hit the ground running and made a great contribution especially with regard to a new strategy for the organisation.
There have also been an increase in activity, conversation and future planning within YBN and we look forward to seeing the results.
Our website is visited by many thousands of people and it is updated regularly. Many thanks to John Weir and his team - a lot of the work is invisible. We’ve got better at keeping it fresh and informative by adding more news stories, which also help with our social media messaging.
Talking of which, we have recently made changes to the way we do our social media - and also our advertising - by once again, outsourcing them to professionals. These are important aspects of our operation and they need to be resourced properly.
Our quarterly magazine just gets better and better and we have plans for the new year to improve it further. There are also a number of newsletters issued regularly that anyone can sign up to keep up to date with BN and Naturist happenings.