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Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:52 pm
by Klaus Steinhaus
Mo,
being a member of the ACA for a good number of years, I appreciate very much your efforts and time spent to turn this association around. I also appreciate your willingness to accept criticism as a positive thing and use it as an advantage. However, I also believe that you are fighting an uphill battle (which makes your efforts even more commendable).
Being a 40+ year veteran in our beautiful hobby, I believe very much in giving back to the hobby. I do this mostly by getting involved in my local club (http://www.dras.ca) but I also like to participate on a bigger scale. After leaving Germany and the German Cichlid Association I was looking for something on a similar level and started to look into the ACA and what it stands for. My reason for joining was mainly the ACA involvement into issues like conservation and supporting research. Not to forget the BB of course. I look forward to every issue.
The conventions had absolutely nothing to do with it, neither was getting access to fish or making friends. For that reason I go every year to Cleveland to attend the OCA Extravaganza. I go there now since about 10 years and have never been disappointed. Now I am not advertising this event but I do compare the OCA event with the ACA convention and have to tell you that I rather go to Cleveland then to an ACA convention.
There are several reasons:
1. The cost, is just a fraction of what the ACA offers. Fancy is fine but these days money is in short supply. Why does it have to be a $40.00US dinner? Why is the registration $45.00US? Hotel cost, meals, travel cost and, and, and. It is expensive to attend an ACA convention.
2. I have found the atmosphere at the ACA convention stiff and structured. It may not be "elitist" as some people say but personally I found it a bit cliquish at times.
3. I don't have to be a member of the OCA to attend. Why you have to be a member of the ACA to attend their FULL convention is absolutely beyond me. Many opportunities are lost right there.
Again, this is no OCA advertisement but a comparison of the two events and a suggestion to look into. It does in no way impact my membership in the ACA. I just wont attend any more ACA conventions and concentrate on CARES.

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:52 pm
by Dan Woodland
The following is posted for Dean Hougen.... Since it looks like a good dialog has opened here the ACA is looking for more feed back.

Dean Hougen is a new BOT member looking for input. He and the ACA would like to know what they would like that organization to be.

Dean asks:

If you are already a member of the ACA, what do you love about the ACA? What do you like? What would you like to see changed?

If you are not a member, why not? Were you a member in the past? What would compel you to join?

You can certainly post here if you want. Alternately, you can PM me here or email me at [email protected].

Thanks!

Dean Hougen

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:02 pm
by Don Danko
I write this at the risk of sounding like and then identifying myself as an old timer. But, here goes anyway.

I have been a member of the ACA now for thirty years. I joined in 1980 at the ACA Convention in Cleveland, hosted by the Cleveland Aquarium Society. When I learned of that event, I had to attend it. The rest is all history - a 30 year engagement with the ACA. My wife and I have attended 29 of the last 30 conventions. We've really enjoyed most of those conventions - great fish, great people, great talks, etc.

We've come to know countless great people that have become very good friends - Ad, Juanmi, Paul Loiselle, Patrick De Rham, Willem, Wayne, Lee Newman, Ron Coleman, George Barlow, Robert Miller, Ross, Rusty, Chuck Rambo, etc, etc, etc. I could go on and on and on. These longstanding friendships are priceless - worth way more that the cost of the membership fees I've spent. I've been collecting probably 35-40 times, have been to Europe, Vancouver and countless places across the States. This never would have been possible without having met some of my close Cichlid friends as a member in the ACA.

At that time, the benefits to membership were fantastic - a great annual convention, a great fish filled publication, a trading post, and the venue to interact with all of the people I met along the way.

In the earlier days, the ACA conventions were smaller, intimate, 3 day weekends. I hit every talk and participated in everything I could. I can't say when exactly, possibly when the ICC's started (International Cichlid Conference), but these down to earth annual events morphed into something that lasts 5 days or so now. Don't know how you can get a good return on investment with that much going on and with the price you charge for it. Makes me wonder what the target customer it is that the ACA is going after. For one, attendees need to have more disposible income then they used to. Also, you need to have more vacation time to attend for longer, or run your own business. Additionally, everything costs a lot more (hotels aren't at very good prices, side trips are very expensive, dinner high priced and a lot require flying, not driving). That rules out a lot of the potential attendees. But, my wife and I still go the conventions and probably always will - until I may not be able to fund it when I hopefully retire one day.

Regarding the publications, I recall getting 6 BB's, one every other month, and Trading Posts on each of the off months. I recall great articles, great photos, and lots of rare fish offered in TP. I bought lots and sold even more! Not sure what the heck happened to TP exactly, but I miss it. Probably got replaced by a web based format. I tried that out, but never really liked it. I think it's a mistake not to have something going out to the membership once a month just to keep something in front of them from the ACA. I look at the BB now and it's glossier than ever. However, I'm just not seeing equivalent content.

I still look back fondly on the earlier ACA days and wonder if something is missing that used to be there.

On the subject of a club hosting a convention, I never could understand what the ACA wanted in a hosting club for their conventions. There used to be a lot of competition for the convention back a ways. The criteria weren't clear to me - financially driven, a great vacation spot, exposure to a specific geographic region?? There was a day we here really wanted to put on a show. I was so high on the ACA that I had to try to expose all of the OCA membership to it. As a result, I led or co-led two major bid efforts to try to bring the ACA convention to Cleveland once again. Actually, worked my ass off to put the best product in front of the BOT. Even though I was told that we had submitted the best bids both times (most anticipated attendance, best fiscal responsibility, best profit potential, great speakers, etc.), we weren't awarded the convention. I recall the first time - the final award was given to Colorado Springs. I understand it was a financial disaster, but I was told that the board thought it would be a great place to visit. Me and my wife had a great time at that quaint little show (don't think it really qualified as fish show, more a bowl show) and never really regretted that I didn't have to work all weekend putting on the show in Cleveland.

So out of that experience, our Extravaganza was born. We initially thought of rotating between Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago, since we'd probably attract the large majority of the cichlid keepers in the US. That was just too hard to pull off though. So, we eventually started the OCA Extravaganza. We wanted it to have the feel of an old fashioned ACA convention - great speakers, reachable by most of the cichlid keeper population, affordable room rate, driveable, etc. That said, we tried to focus on value and bang for the buck. We opted to forego the expensive formal dinner and elected to go with a large pizza party. Seems like it caught on, so we kept on doing it.

I think I'll always be an ACA member and that we'll go to all the conventions until we just can't afford them. We've just got too many friends and too much history with the ACA not to. But what does it take to attract and retain new members? Is the ACA in touch with the voice of its customers? Is the value there in the product?

I don't have the answers to any of the questions, but thought I'd share a few insights and ramblings regardubg what I've liked as a long term member and raise a few of my concerns for the future of the organization. That said, the 700 some membership level, although down, ain't all that bad!

Don

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:10 pm
by fmueller
Don - those are some very interesting observations for somebody like me who has never been an ACA member. Thanks for sharing those with us.

On your last point, 700 members is a lot more than we have in the OCA, but if you compare it internationally, it is not too impressive. The German Cichlid Society (DCG) has about 3,000 members - and Germany has only about 1/4 the population of the US. Per capita, the DCG is about 18 times larger than the ACA! Maybe the comparison it not really fair, because the DCG is more of an umbrella organization over smaller regional groups that have regional meetings and a regional club life, but leaving organizational details aside, when it comes to lobbying against silly import restrictions, for conservation of biodiversity, and other political issues that affect the hobby, I imagine an organization of several thousand members has more clout than one of a few hundred. For a national organization I would think that should be an important consideration.

The only reason I'd join the ACA would be to attend one of the conventions. That would make the cost worthwhile for me - or rather I don't think I'd have a choice if I wanted to attend! Mostly due to other obligations, but also due to financial constraints, I have not yet had the opportunity to do that.

From what I read, the higher charges in the ACA (I won't call them BOTs. Does anybody here know what a BOT in 21st century every day speech is, and what negative connotations the term has? Click here for more info), don't see the membership fee as the purchase prize for a service rendered, but as donation for a good cause. Currently that good cause is ill defined or at least I haven't been able to work out what exactly it is without investing more time and energy than I want.

To me as an outsider, the ACA presents itself as an organization that asks for donations to be used for conservation and the preservation of biodiversity, yet has an unclear stand on the hybrid issue. I have heard rumors that the hybrid subject has been discussed to death in the ACA, but I haven't heard that a definitive outcome has been reached. I really don't want to open that can of worms here, but personally I am convinced that furthering the breeding of hybrids and conservation of biodiversity are mutually exclusive goals. I wouldn't donate to an organization for one cause if that same organizations' view of the other issue is vague. The Cincinnati convention with the hybrid wars theme was like having an ad for the new Mustang 5.0 V8 on the front page of a Greenpeace flier to promote the use of renewable energy sources.

At the risk of further beating a dead horse, the German Cichlid Society's stand on these kind of contentious issues is crystal clear, which is why I am a member of the DCG, even though I have never attended one of their events and haven't lived in Germany in 15 years.

Frank

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:35 pm
by Klaus Steinhaus
Frank, I agree with you 100%.

However, I have explained the workings and structure of the DCG in the ACA forum many times but there is no interest. Maybe I did not explain it properly but even though, it is VERY obvious that the DCG concept works perfectly and I don't understand why nobody looks into this further. There is also the Dutch Cichlid Association with Willem Heijns as president. Even that association has more members then the ACA. Willem is a member of the ACA and was more then willing to help but has been shut down several times. There seems to be a reluctance to look toward the successful organizations and to change the constitution. One of the arguments was that the existing local clubs would never agree to exist under the ACA umbrella yet nobody has asked that question. Maybe they are right but I believe if there is a will, there is a way.

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:11 pm
by fmueller
Klaus - Maybe a case of 'Old Europe'? :D

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:14 pm
by Klaus Steinhaus
Frank, you may have a point there.... :D

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:39 pm
by Dan Woodland
Klaus Steinhaus wrote:Frank, I agree with you 100%.

However, I have explained the workings and structure of the DCG in the ACA forum many times but there is no interest. Maybe I did not explain it properly but even though, it is VERY obvious that the DCG concept works perfectly and I don't understand why nobody looks into this further. There is also the Dutch Cichlid Association with Willem Heijns as president. Even that association has more members then the ACA. Willem is a member of the ACA and was more then willing to help but has been shut down several times. There seems to be a reluctance to look toward the successful organizations and to change the constitution. One of the arguments was that the existing local clubs would never agree to exist under the ACA umbrella yet nobody has asked that question. Maybe they are right but I believe if there is a will, there is a way.
This was brought up many years ago and if remember correctly the issue was much like the current Federation of American Aquarium Societies (FAAS) "club" in the states which is a "club of clubs". As time rolled on "local" clubs felt they were not getting the value from membership and stopped paying the dues required to be in FAAS.

I also remember local clubs baulking at the ACA "controlling" them and requiring "dues" be paid the "mother-ship".

I wonder if this idea would have any legs these days.

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:28 pm
by fmueller
I don't think that the European model of how aquaristic clubs in a country are organized could now easily be transferred to the US. I admit I am not too familiar with the history of the DCG, but I imagine many German local clubs have grown as integral part of the DCG. They won't all of a sudden secede. American clubs have grown independently of a national organization, and wouldn't join one now unless they saw good reasons to do so. This might even be a bit of a cultural issue, since American society is clearly more individualistic than most of Europe.

However, all that doesn't mean we can't have a look at the situation in other countries and see if we can pick up some good ideas. The DCG for example takes a leadership role in questions like Qualzuchten - what I rant on about in the OCA as 'torture breeds'. They actually have a policy statement about that issue on their web site (http://www.dcg-online.de/download/qualzuchten.pdf). That there is no proper term for it in English shows how far the discussion is advanced on that subject around here. If the ACA could formulate some official positions on contentious issues (eg: line breeding, stripping, hybrids, albinos, long fin varieties, etc), that would allow them to claim a national leadership role. This doesn't have to be done in a patronizing or directive manner, more like white papers that explain both, the pros and cons. For example newcomers to the hobby are typically against line breeding and aspire to buy WC or F1 stock. Yet, while line breeding can be used to create man-made strains, it is also indispensable if we want to preserve species or color morphs in the hobby that are extinct in the wild. I could see more of an educational role for the ACA in that context.

Frank

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:26 am
by Willem Heijns
Interesting to see a discussion about the ACA here instead of on the ACA-website. 8)

Since my country and our club (the NVC) are mentioned here, I might as well provide some firsthand information. Our membership is (contrary to other hobby organisations in my country) growing to close to a 1,000 now. This makes the DCG in Germany about 3 times as big as the NVC, but considering Germany has 5 times as many inhabitants as the Netherlands, I don't think we are doing too bad (sorry Frank :D ).

We are also not an umbrella organisation; we are in direct contact with our members. We have simple goals that befit a hobbyist club: gathering and spreading information about cichlids. One of the problems of the ACA (which I told them on many occasions) is the fact that they have a double mission: one in the interest of the fish (conservation, study, etc) and one in the interest op people (conventions, shows, etc). The hybrid debate is a perfect example of the trouble you get into because of this. It is almost impossible to convince members of the objective to keep our cichlid species "pure" when those members didn't start their hobby with that objective in mind. Discus varieties, new strains (coloration, extended finnage, etc) are what many of the hobbyists (and the trade for that matter) are after. Mind you, there is nothing (ethically) wrong with either of those approaches, they just don't combine well.

The NVC tries to reach its members in three ways:
1. our magazine "Cichlidae"; the most important activity for the majority of our members
2. our website NVCweb; quickly raising to equal importance with Cichlidae
3. regular meetings; a relict from the past with only very few attendants, except for our yearly "Nationale CichlidenDag" which draws 600 to 700 people (both members and non-members).

As for the future I believe our mission can be achieved mainly by the first two of our activities. People with questions about their hobby should be able to find answers on NVCweb quickly and in a convenient way. That is why we are building our "Cichlipedia" right now. If our members want to "dive deep" into a subject, Cichlidae will provide them with indepth articles, to be read in the company of a good glass of something (a dram maybe?) and a cigar. This will (we hope) appeal to both our younger members (find your answers quickly) and our older members (sit back and take your time).

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:10 am
by Klaus Steinhaus
Thank you Willem, I was hoping you would react :D

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:13 pm
by fmueller
Willem - no need to apologize. That probably makes the NVC the world's largest aquaristic society per capita. If you are not advertising that already, maybe you should :)

I've always regretted that I never managed to hook up with fellow cichlid enthusiasts during the year I lived in Amsterdam, but I had just sold my tanks in Germany and was basically on the way to the US for a year and then Australia. Not the time to let myself be tempted to buy tanks and fish :D

The NVC web site looks absolutely top notch. Very professionally designed. I can see that you would be attracting quite a lot of members if all your products look like that. Unfortunately the only payment option to sign up appears to be direct bank draft, which should be perfect for pretty much anybody in the Netherlands, but no use if you live in the US. If you happen to accept PayPa, and maybe have a discounted membership available with an electronic version of Cichlidae, I could be tempted to sign up. It would be a welcome opportunity to polish up my rusty Dutch a little!

Frank

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:27 pm
by Ken Grimmett
Can the ACA run a study of the number of people that sign up to go to the convention for a year and then drop off the next year?

If this number is significant, then you maybe need to shift your focus to retain them year after year.

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:49 pm
by madbigfoot
Having been an ACA member on and off over the last 20 years or so I'd say the main reason for not keeping up with my membership is for a variety of reasons.

For one, the Convention...depending on where the convention was and if I could attend was the easiest way to renew or just blow off renewing my membership. Living in Ohio it was tough to get out to the West or deep south on a regular basis. Basically, if I didn’t attend, I didn't renew.

Another factor was the Traders Post. For awhile there the ACA was having trouble getting it out on a timely basis. Since I was selling fish the delays started getting old. I love the idea of online access and feel this is definitely the way of the future for the TP.

Being a longtime OCA board member it was frustrating to feel like the BOT of the ACA didn't want constructive input from its membership. I've always felt membership input should be at the forefront of how an organization should be run. After all, it's the membership who votes for the BOT members. The BOT members should be gathering information from the membership to ensure the best decisions are made. Knowing the Phil Benes and Ted are on board is very reassuring that the ACA is heading in the right direction.

The Convention- July is just a tough and expensive month to have a fish convention. If I was deciding I would look at the end of March. Still kind of crappy in the Midwest and Northeast, starting to warm up in the South and West. Hotel industry is looking to make deals for early pre-summer events. I know some people are going to say it's a vacation...need nice weather, etc.... IMO that's bull. Fish keepers (cichlid heads in particular) are as resilient as it comes. There could be 3 feet of snow out and they still come from all over. If the world comes to an end, Cockroaches will only have one competitor, fish heads!! :lol: By having the convention in March would save the attendee 30% or more on their travel expenses....most notably hotel room rate and airfare. That savings would equal a lot more attendees and a lot more potential new ACA blood.

All in all, what the ACA does for the cichlid hobby is second to none. The funds they contribute to different cichlid related causes are first rate. I truly feel Guy Jordan would be proud! I know we at the OCA have our Jim Smith fund that has contributed thousands of dollars to some well worth cichlid conservation projects. As the fund continues to grow, look for even more contributions being made to just causes.

As Dan stated earlier, the OCA makes it a point to give back to its members in every possible way. From cook-outs, fish fry’s (not kidding), product giveaways, tank giveaways, etc.... To give back to your body of support will win out in the long run. Maybe the ACA could have an entire weekend of giveaways to its Convention attendees. Something that they will talk about for the year to come and put them in the mindset of wanting to come back for more! Like in sales, those value added incentives keep them coming back for more.

My suggestion to all is to give the ACA a go. They have a great newsletter, Trading Post, and many, many years of dedication to our beloved cichlid hobby.

Sincerely,

Marc A.DeWerth
BIGFOOT

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:25 pm
by bobrfish
My membership in ACA has lasted over 10 years. My membership in OCA lasted one year. Long distance OCA members benefits are no better and possibly worse than ACA member benefits. That is not the reason for continuing with ACA and not OCA though.

I attend conventions of both organizations and have a good time at both. I readily agree that ACA conventions total cost to attendees is affecting attendance and it will get worse. OCA has solved this cost problem and ACA could learn something about convention costs and how to manage costs from OCA, IMO.
Prior to 2001 ACA convention, being an ACA member was not a requirement to attend. See Prop 99-19 in a BB from 1999. This prop stated a requirement for ACA membership beginning in 2001 with the caveat that host club could admit those who where members or joined host club to attend convention. Those folks did not need to join ACA. Not until Ted announced that all who attend 2010 ACA convention must be members of ACA has this situation occurred.

I follow ACA BOT propositions. The following props clarified hybrid keeping and ACA stance for me but probably not for everyone.
Prop 09-02: Put the decision to include a Hybrids Class in all ACA Sanctioned shows in the hands of the host club. This is to include any other potential hybrid-based activities with could include but are not limited to exhibitions, education sessions, workshops, etc.

Prop 09-05: As an organization, the ACA supports cichlid conservation both in the wild and in the hobby. We realize that hybrid cichlids and fish bred to accentuate color and physical characteristics are part of the hobby; however, we encourage responsible breeding practices that result in fish as close to the wild phenotype as possible.


Membership in ACA is not about benefits for me but what I can do for wild cichlids. This will probably not catch on but it works for me.

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:00 pm
by tjudy
Not until Ted announced that all who attend 2010 ACA convention must be members of ACA has this situation occurred.
All we have done in Milwaukee is make the decision that we will not sell a Milwaukee A. S. membership as an option to attend the convention.

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:32 pm
by Aquamojo
Klaus...thank you for that. I'm not the only one within the organization who thinks it's an uphill battle. We're an organization of volunteers that do what we can. I'm very proud of the fact that myself and a few others started the serious discussion about getting involved in the internet..and not just having a website. I know we were behind the curve on that. There's no way we can expect to have a site the quality of Juan's when it comes to disseminating cichlid information. But today we at least HAVE a forum and a website under one URL. I was probably THE poster child for the Anti Flowerhorn movement...but was the guy who actually started the discussion within the club...and quite a discussion it was as Willem points out. It was long overdue and I think that the position of the club is exactly where we should be. I think things are actually moving forward...glacially.

Willem...you are spot on. One of the biggest problems I have is that I believe too much emphasis has/is put on the convention...a five day event once a year. I understand the financial importance to the club and that it's THE ACA event of the year when folks get together. And I hope I don't get slammed for this, but what the hell...it one week out of the year. You saw how the biggest part of the hybrid/line bred debate focused on entering, judging and classifying them for shows. We're a club 365 days a year. There's more to it than the show. I don't think anyone will disagree that the grants and research we fund annually isn't doing great work. I do think that as a club we have go to look more toward our members and their interests. And there in lies the million dollar question. What?

We just passed a new $15 membership option that will allow an "electronic membership"...providing all of the same benefits (voting, ACA member site, convention access) but without the printed book. New member WILL be able to access the archive of 255 back publications. If you haven't seen it recently it's been updated and categorized by author, fish species and subject matter. This is for both domestic and foreign members. I did an in depth study of where are members are located. For those who are interested, here's what I posted on the ACA site.

Membership

I’m a firm believer in that before you can get where you’re going, you have to know where you’re at. I recently did an in depth analysis of not only who, but also how many and where our current member reside. On our website on June 2009 the statistics state the following:

* 899 dues paying (non life) members in USA - 78%
* 68 dues paying (non life) members outside USA - 6%
* 165 life (pre paid) members - 14%
* 13 fellows - 1%
* 1 complimentary membership (na)
* 1146 total members


Here’s an update as of 12/31/09

* 571 dues paying (non life) members in USA
* 54 dues paying (non life) members outside USA
* 181 life (pre paid) members
* 14 fellows
* 3 junior memberships
* 823 total members

Of these members, 429 domestically and 28 internationally are set to renew their membership during 2010 for a total of 457 members…better than half of all our members. Form research that I did a while back charting membership renewals around convnention locations, I will tell you that it is very much tied to renewal.

Broken down by state the membership looks like this:
http://www.aquamojo.com/ACA/ACA%20Membe ... 0state.pdf

57% of our members reside within 10 of the 50 continental United States (and Puerto Rico). 16% of the member base resides in 29 states. Attached is a map of the United States plotted to show concentration levels of where our members reside.
http://www.aquamojo.com/ACA/Member%20Co ... nly%29.pdf

Internationally the break out is as follow:
http://www.aquamojo.com/ACA/ACA%20Inter ... ountry.pdf

I personally think that the sharp decline in members has got to be turned around. (catch 22, huh?) And I openly stated that I was going to do my damndest to double our membership this year. Lofty goal given the past historical info...but willing to eat my words trying. There are a few folks who don't think the total number is as important as the quality of the members. While I tend to agree that quality is good..when that number is dropping as sharply as it is right now we will be able to host a convention at someone's house in a few years. Gotta change. I think the electronic membership is a great start. I also have been doing an on line campaign for non members...essentially giving them three free BB's to introduce them to the club. So far I have made contact with close to three hundred folks. Forward motion.

Marc...I like your suggestion of a different time of year. I hadn't thought of that. I'm a relative newbie when it comes to the convention mechanics. I will bring that up for some of the pros like Phil and others who have been doing it a long time. It makes sense to me. The trouble right now is that we don't yet have a host club for 2011. Moving it to March now might make it more difficult from a time standpoint...but I'm not sure. Great suggestion regardless. I also like the idea of getting something tangible back. We are speaking with some individual vendors trying to work out "welcome packs" and special offers available to members. I won't reveal more of that till I get all the details...but we're on the same page. One thing that has been discussed in the club is that some feel that members should join for the right reasons...the more altruistic reasons. Excellent idea, but how's that been working for us?

What we need more of is active members. I like your statement on getting feedback from the members. The truth of the matter is that we don't get enough feedback. it's always a vocal minority that gets actively involved. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think it was like 14% that voted for the BOT. I may be wrong on that, but I am certain it was only a VERY small percentage. We even had a tougher time getting enough people to vote on the by laws. The biggest participation was on our marathon hybrid debate. The bottom line on membership for me is that I have met and made some life long friends in the club...I volunteer my time along with a bunch of really great folks who do the same all in the interest of the club. No one person or group and do it alone. Like most large groups we differ on many things, but the bottom line is that we are doing...something. Yes it is an uphill battle and there certainly isn't a guarantee.

I hope I don't come off as being negative...I'm not. I encourage any and all support and feedback to help for the better good. And I certainly will guarantee that we will do what ever we can do to help the OCA. Those who know me know that I speak my mind. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.

Mo

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:06 am
by Willem Heijns
It is always nice to hear that I'm "spot on". I've been told this quite a few times now (both by people in and outside of the ACA). The problem is: nothing ever seems to happen afterwards. When I coined the point "education is the way" in the hybrid debate many people agreed, but I haven't seen anything happen in this respect. When I stated the ACA has a serious identity problem I apparently hit the hammer on the nail, but a fundamental discussion on this topic still has to start. Two current BOT members said they want to talk with me about cooperation between our clubs, but again nothing happened (yet).

Here's my stance on growing membership. I believe any action to promote membership is in vain. Clubs need to decide what they want to achieve and how they want to serve their members (magazine, website, conventions, etc). They need to try and put the highest possible quality into these endeavors. And next, they need to make sure that everyone knows about them. This is the most difficult part. Once this has been done the membership number is a mere result of what the club has to offer.

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:56 am
by Aquamojo
Willem Heijns wrote:It is always nice to hear that I'm "spot on". I've been told this quite a few times now (both by people in and outside of the ACA). The problem is: nothing ever seems to happen afterwards. When I coined the point "education is the way" in the hybrid debate many people agreed, but I haven't seen anything happen in this respect. When I stated the ACA has a serious identity problem I apparently hit the hammer on the nail, but a fundamental discussion on this topic still has to start. Two current BOT members said they want to talk with me about cooperation between our clubs, but again nothing happened (yet).

Here's my stance on growing membership. I believe any action to promote membership is in vain. Clubs need to decide what they want to achieve and how they want to serve their members (magazine, website, conventions, etc). They need to try and put the highest possible quality into these endeavors. And next, they need to make sure that everyone knows about them. This is the most difficult part. Once this has been done the membership number is a mere result of what the club has to offer.

Willem...as you know, I'm one of the folks who asked about some kind of a joint effort between our clubs. Unfortunately I haven't been able to do more at this point. I still believe that this would pay dividends. My apology for mot making it a priority. Life sometimes gets in the way. Not an excuse...just an explanation of where my time goes on a daily basis. You would have to agree that from strictly a "being out there" point of view, I maintain a great deal of exposure on many of the various sites. Maybe it's not all educational, but like many here i field questions about cichlids, the hobby and photography daily.

I disagree that "nothing" happens. We are still in the process of setting up regular house cleaning for our club. Things that revolve around making the forum and the website the hub of our communication with the members. And compared to previous years the movement we have had could be considered light speed at this point.

One of the biggest challenges...and on this I do agree...is letting "everyone know about it". Very difficult to do without some sort of external advertising. As you may know I own an advertising agency and as such am a professional media buyer. I understand the importance of marketing a message...and how to do so efficiently. As Publicity Chairman for the club I proposed a budget two years ago for external advertising in TFH magazine. The consensus...question I was asked...was if we spend this money how many members can we expect to gain? Impossible to answer? Is this the best publication to advertise? It's one of a few. More is better, but it increases your budget. Long story short I was given $600 to promote the club. We bought T-Shirts.

Last year the subject of a promotional budget came up and quite honestly I deferred any kind of a budget in lieu of spending whatever resources we had to use developing and fixing our current site. The good news is if you advertise they will come. the bad news is that if you have a $hitty site and they come....they won't come back. I think we are on a fast track on fixing the latter.

Believe me when I say that I do appreciate your insight and advice. And again, please don't take my lack of a timely response as a slight. It's simply a matter of prioritization both professionally and with my free time. I will confess that sometime the circular conversations wear me and the others down. The best I can say hear is that it doesn't dampen my desire to keep trying...despite however vain the attempt.

Regards,

Mo

Re: ACA News Jan 2010

Posted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:17 am
by Willem Heijns
My posting stipulated four items:

1. education as a follow-up of the hybrid debate
2. the identity problem of the ACA
3. international cooperation
4. high quality results in growing membership.

I got response on the last two. :?