Changes are afoot at IMBA and I wanted to provide an update to everyone, as there are some potential implications for VMB and our members.
IMBA this spring will launch what it is calling Chapter 2.0, which is an overhaul of its chapter program. Since we first heard of this last week, the officers and I have been communicating often, asking questions, and compiling necessary information. I’ve had several conversations with Anthony Duncan, our IMBA rep, and email exchanges with Bruce Alt, IMBA’s chapter program director. Our goal is to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of the club and our members. We see advantages as well as disadvantages of the new program, which I’ll outline briefly below.
The primary driver of these changes is financial. Currently IMBA’s chapter program is losing money; they are planning to raise membership fees to address this. Also, with the loss of Subaru's sponsorship, regional directors no longer have an IMBA vehicle to use for travel. So to provide service with less driving, IMBA is shifting the program to focus on subject-matter experts. They believe these changes will lead to long-term sustainability of the program. We’ll still have regional directors, though they will travel less. Instead, IMBA will bring in five to 10 experts on grant writing, fundraising, governance, membership, trail building, etc. Those experts will be available by phone, video, or email to advise chapter leaders.
While developing the 2.0 model, IMBA also polled chapters on what benefits they most wanted. In response to that, IMBA is rolling out a national insurance policy for clubs, and other changes, like a streamlined membership database, that will make it easier for clubs to manage their memberships.
Below, I’ve provided a bullet-point list of key changes. After that, I included an outline and timetable for how we plan to approach this decision.
- Individual membership goes to $50. Family price TBD
- Our average membership now is $47 (based on some family memberships and individuals selecting premium membership packages). The national average is $50, according to IMBA
- We will continue to split membership (but not donation or sponsorship) revenue 60/40 with IMBA.
- Regional directors will no longer travel to chapters for trail work days or meetings for free
- Any travel would be charged to clubs at an hourly rate (about $80) + expenses
- Anthony Duncan will remain our primary contact and can advise + guide as needed
- VMB will have access to 5 to 10 subject-matter experts
- Some of the positions will be current regional directors with experience in the given field
- IMBA is working on a single insurance provider for all clubs (we would still pay a per-member fee)
- We’re getting quotes now for our provider and others to compare rates + coverage
- IMBA is creating a pool of funds/grant money for all clubs
- They will administer this through an internal grant program, but there are few other details.
Our Next Steps
- On Feb 9 and 10, IMBA will have a conference call with chapter leaders to answer questions. Our plan is to have myself, another officer and board member attend at least one of the calls.
- Between now and the end of the month, we will solicit feedback from members. We’ll have an informal Q&A at the Winter Social on Feb 18, and devote significant time at the member meeting on Feb 23 to covering the changes, answering questions and gathing member feedback.
- In March, we will vote to remain a chapter of IMBA or part ways. (The change would take place April 1).
I ask that you provide feedback and ask questions respectfully. I’m interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts on this as we make this important decision.
One thing is clear to me: VMB has never been stronger. We have an all-time high membership, have capable volunteers working regularly in six trail systems, and I have incredible confidence in our board and my fellow officers. No matter which direction we choose, VMB will continue to thrive and pour our energies into improving trails for our members and all local riders.