Nearly three years ago, on 29th April 2015, all UK backgammon players were invited to become members of the UKBGF and since then 470 players (including a good few from overseas!) have done so. During recent months, with this third anniversary approaching, the UKBGF Board decided that now would be a good time to review both the membership structure and membership fees. Changes are currently being implemented but for most of our existing members no action will be required until their next renewal date.
Changing the fee structure would not have been a simple procedure with our original online system integrated with PayPal. However, I wanted to improve the system anyway, and doing so now allowed a simultaneous overhaul of membership fees and structure. For those who are interested, we are changing over to ‘Paid Memberships Pro’ with a ‘Stripe’ payment plugin. Stripe is a more user-friendly payment gateway which allows payments by credit card on the UKBGF website itself, rather than having to be redirected to another site as was the case with PayPal.
Once the changeover is complete, nearly all signups and renewals will be automated. Previously over a third of these required manual processing. This will be a huge improvement in terms of reduced admin, although inevitably there will be a few snags to overcome during the changeover.
The main change to the membership structure will be that instead of the old ‘Basic’ and ‘Premium’ categories (the latter conferring certain additional benefits), there is now a single membership level equivalent to Premium.
The annual cost of the new UKBGF membership will be either £25 for one year, or £60 for three years. Depending on your original membership category, the changes which you will see are detailed below:
- Basic members have been upgraded and now enjoy all the benefits previously associated with Premium membership, but with no increase in cost. In particular, all members will now have access to what was previously ‘Premium’ content on the UKBGF website. All members will also be eligible to win added prizes from sponsors at UKBGF events and they will be able to purchase their first XG activation code at a 20% discount.
- Premium members will pay less for their next membership renewal: down from £40 (1-year) or £100 (3-years). Those who are paying for 3-Year Premium by annual instalments of £33.33, irrespective of whether this is the first, second, or third year of their membership, will be able to start afresh at the next payment date so that they will get the benefit of the reduced membership fees as soon as practicable.
- Youth membership (for anyone under 21) and Student membership (for anyone in full time education) will also be upgraded to the equivalent of ‘Premium’ and will continue to be completely free.
- Members who have recently joined at the old Premium rate, or who prepaid the full £100 for 3-year Premium membership and still have a year or more left to run, might feel they have received a raw deal. Please contact us and we will sort something out.
- Existing Life members will be unaffected by the changes.
- If you are not yet a UKBGF member but you would like to join, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can let you know as soon as the processing of online applications has been resumed (within the next few days). When the new system is up and running an announcement will be made on Facebook and Twitter and in an addendum to this post. A blog comment will also be added, so if you tick the box “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” at the very bottom of this post you will be alerted immediately.
All those whose UKBGF membership expires within the next 12 months should have received an email on 11th April to inform them of the change and to advise them of their next renewal date. If you are currently paying by PayPal, your recurring payment mandate will shortly be cancelled by us, or in some cases this will have happened already. Whether you previously paid by PayPal, bank transfer, or any other method, one week before your renewal date you will receive an email inviting you to sign up on the new system. At this stage you will be offered the choice of a new 1-year or 3-year membership. A few members whose renewal dates passed recently but who haven’t yet renewed will receive a reminder email soon and will be able to renew once the new system is operational.
It is only because of the valued support of all our members during the last three years that it has been possible to make these changes. Whereas three years ago we had zero cash, and in fact owed money to those who had provided loans to enable us to buy equipment and stay afloat, we now have cash in the bank to give us some security. Although not a huge reserve, this provides a useful buffer to cover unforeseen items of expenditure. It also means that we can afford to implement more of the ideas which the Board is currently working on.
For those who may not be aware of how the UKBGF came into existence, and the contribution which it has made to UK backgammon during the last few years, see ‘What is the UKBGF?’ under the ‘About’ tab. I hope that you will agree that, although it is hard to please all of the players all of the time, we are doing our best both to grow the game and to improve the playing experience of all players.
Finally, when your renewal date comes around and you receive an email inviting you to renew, PLEASE act on it immediately (one way or the other). I hope that you will continue to support your Federation so that the elected UKBGF Board can continue to work on your behalf for the good of the game.
Good luck in your next tournament, whenever and wherever that might be!