Membership should not be taken for granted

Oliver Barsby, Chief Operating Officer at Scottish Target Shooting talks to us about the importance of engagement with members and the perceived value of the membership offering.

Oliver Barsby, STS

How long have you been working in the membership space?

STS launched to our members in 2016 when the body was formed so we have been working in the live membership space since then.

What are some of the most exciting aspects to working in membership?

Working with memberships is extremely varied because no one person or club is the same. That is what makes the working with memberships challenging, exciting, interesting and rewarding.

How important is membership income to Scottish Target Shooting and how does the success of membership impact the overall growth of your sport?

Membership income is important, but it is also important to not be overly reliant on this, as COVID-19 has taught us. Memberships should not be taken for granted and neither should membership fees be a barrier to participation, so it is important that memberships are kept affordable and perceived to be value for money for a service that members want, rather than an over-priced requirement.

How have you responded to the challenge of COVID, including any new initiatives you have adopted, and have your efforts helped with member retention and growth?

COVID-19 has been a challenge to every one so to say it hasn’t would be a lie! We have responded to the challenge by maintaining a running dialogue with members so they feel connected both to the sport but also to their environment as some members will feel very isolated during this time. We have maintained this dialogue through regular emails, newsletter, a running programme of webinars and a number of open and closed online sessions with members – the latter of which have been crucial in helping people connect. We are also fortunate that some of the services we provide relate to our partnership with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government. Lock down brought new questions about the safe management of firearms so STS had a prominent role to play to support communication between national agencies and our members, ensure we kept engaged with members during this time.


Before COVID struck what would you consider your main membership challenges to be?

With such a broad range of shooting disciplines and events, our biggest challenge was serving a broad membership with limited resources.

How have you overcome or how are you working towards overcoming these challenges?

This is definitely an ongoing journey we will never truly reach the end of, because we can always do more, but we are meeting these challenges by using technology to help us work smarter and stay connected with members, freeing up time to expand our work in other areas. One of the positives to come out of this pandemic is that our response to COVID has been well received by members and the wider shooting community. It has helped to increase our profile and integrity which has opened doors so we now engage in far more positive and frequent discussions with members and partners than perhaps were a little closed to us previously.

This has not just been the case for STS but for sport in Scotland more widely. Scottish Governing Bodies are now far more connected to each other but also to the wider Physical Activity agenda and networks than ever before to work with sportscotland to better illustrate the positive role sport can play in Scottish communities and the challenges faced by clubs, facilities and the nation’s mental and physical health with minimal sporting activity during the pandemic. #PowerofSport

What are the main benefits you have found working with GoMembership?

GoMembership has helped us capture custom data on members that reflects the uniqueness of each person and club but also identify trends in our sport. It has also helped us stay connected to members by communicating the right information to the right groups at the right time. We have found it a powerful and useful tool that provided a great service pre COVID-19 but has helped us remain connected to members during the pandemic.

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