IF YOU PAY SUBS BY DIRECT DEBIT PLEASE READ THIS!

Membership has always worked that it was valid from the 1st of January until the 31 of December – there were various provisions for members joining late in the year, but in essence everybodies membership expired at the end of every year and was then renewed again on the date they paid the subs the following year.

Because the only thing that would have alerted you to this was when you didn’t receive your copy of the GOBA News, most people wouldn’t have been aware that their membership had expired, especially members who paid by direct debit. With the new website live, this is more obvious. All memberships expired at the end of last year, if you pay by direct debit and the payment is taken annually on a date AFTER today’s date (12th of January) then currently you haven’t actually paid your subs for this year and so are not a current member – don’t worry though.

As soon as your direct debit order gets processed by your bank, they will send an alert to GOBA’s membership secretary, who marks all the members who have paid as active members on the website database, at which time links to the forum, minutes of past committee meetings, etc will become visible to you.

Obviously with changing the membership to a rolling year-on-year membership this problem won’t occur after this year, as on the day your membership is due to expire it will be renewed.

I hope this explains things but please feel free to contact me if you want clarification of anything.

18 Comments

  1. Please could you let me know how to pay our subscription when we do not use PayPal and are reluctant to accept cheques. Thank you.

    1. The Paypal button on the website does allow you to pay by credit or debit card without a Paypal account. It’s not obvious and we are working on that, but it does work.

  2. Although GOBA membership always ran from 1st Jan to 31st Dec each year, Direct Debits were not collected until 15th February. This is from the old website: ……..
    “Direct Debits for annual membership subscriptions, currently £23, are taken from members bank accounts on 15th Feb each year, as per the “advance notification” letter sent to members with the Winter edition of GOBA news.”
    ……… Presumably, this is why many of us are now presented with a message on the new website that “You do not have an active membership” and are thus prevented from full access to the members’ section. Hopefully, this will right itself after the DDs are collected on 15th Feb.
    The question of unfairness for those joining later in the year was partly addressed by making membership free for the rest of the current year for anyone joining after 1st October. They paid just a £2 joining fee. Again from the old site ……..
    ” (Membership to the end of year is free for those members joining after 1st October).” …….
    Am I alone in thinking that you might now have over-complicated a system that has worked so well in the past?
    In fact, the GOBA rules 12(c) and (d) if strictly applied make the new system questionable to a degree: ……………
    (c) Subscriptions shall be payable in advance on the 1st January. Any member whose
    annual subscription shall be unpaid on the 31st December shall cease to be a member of
    the Association but shall remain liable for all monies due from him or her to the
    Association.
    (d) Any member desiring to resign from the Association shall give to the Secretary in
    writing one month’s notice prior to 1st January and unless such notice be given he or
    she shall be liable to pay his or her subscription for the ensuing year.

    1. Hi. As you say membership as described in the rules is from 1st Jan to 31st Dec. When we we’re allowed to have an AGM we will ask the membership to accept a change in the rules. Meanwhile we stuck to the letter of the rules by making everyone’s membership end on 31st Dec 2020 and we are reinstating their membership when their payment is accepted. In the long run rolling membership is easier for everyone, especially the volunteers running GOBA. Members will pay whenever they want (in most cases probably late winter/early spring when they start thinking about taking to the water again) and membership will last 12 months from that date. (if the AGM approves).

      The current system causes problems relating to distribution of magazines and window stickers. In normal circumstances the AGM is mid-April and we have to give two weeks notice to members. The notice is put in the Spring issue of GOBA News. In order to reach everyone by April 1st it has to go to press in early March along with a distribution list. This list is based on current paid up members at the end of February. Some members set up DD, Paypal, card or BACS to pay annually in March/April so they miss out on the magazine and sticker mass mailing, but when they do pay someone (ie membership sec) has to send an individual package and covering letter. With the proposed new system someone who pays in March will still be a valid member the following February so they’ll get their magazine and sticker as part of the mass mail out. That will save GOBA £100’s annually, and make our (unpaid) jobs a lot easier.

  3. I am sorry but remain confused, how can I pay my subscription by DD?. I have been a member for 5yrs and am eager to remain one. Mike had helped me before. Now I cannot find your bank account details to send GOBA _£23 for this year. Please can you email the details.
    Many thanks. Joan #H1020(N/B.Early Byrd)

    1. If you set up a recurring payment by DD then you don’t need to do anything. If you have created one-off DD payments each year then you will need to do another one, or arrange payment via online banking. I will ask our treasurer to contact you.

      1. I usually pay my membership by direct debit around the 12th Feb, but it still hasn’t been processed yet. I’d appreciate some help on this.
        Thanks Andrew
        Volare II

        1. We have a lot of unprocessed Direct Debits at the moment (including mine!) I believe the new treasurer is still having trouble convincing our bank to grant him access to the account. It should be resolved soon.

  4. Thank you Phil, but I can’t help thinking you have jumped the gun on this. You have made it all extremely confusing. Even the payment form on this site still refers to Annual Membership running from 1st Januaryto 31 December – with membership expiring on 31st December.

    Frankly, as a fully paid up member for 22 years I object to now being told that I am no longer a member, however temporary. Perhaps you don’t want me!

    This is what your payment form currently says:
    _____________________________________________________________________________
    Membership Level change
    You have selected the GOBA Membership membership level.

    Membership is £23 plus a £2.00 joining fee. Membership is annual from 1 Jan to 31 Dec in any one year. In completing the PayPal form please take great care to use the surname and address to be used in your membership.

    The price for membership is £23.00 now.

    Membership expires after 1 Year.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Your point that some members set up DD’s in March or April and miss out on the Spring mailing and then have to be sent individual letters frankly makes no sense to me. By sticking to a fixed date for annual direct debits – 15th Feb – as has always been the case – the bulk of the membership is included in the Spring mailing with no additional workload. (Traditionally, and until fairly recently the Membership Secretary was always offered assistance with his workload at this time).
    Surely by making membership on a rolling year basis you are just increasing the load of individual mailings and extending it right throughout the year when your otherwise dedicated committee members should be out boating and enjoying the river. The ‘old’ system restricted the individual mailings to new members only.
    Also from a budgeting point of view, collection of the bulk of fees at a fixed time early in the year gave the committee a clear idea of what funds were available for mooring rental agreements and other activities.

    I’m sorry, and I may be alone on this, but I will strongly oppose this unnecessary and ill-thought through change at the next AGM.

    1. The renewal date was never 15th Feb. Under the rules membership was from 1st Jan to 31st Dec. Many members set up recurrent DD payments during Jan/Feb and it was a decision taken by a previous membership sec / treasurer to activate them on Feb 15th. I assume it was because he preferred to do a big batch rather than a few each day, but it wasn’t a rule. The result was that technically we had no members at all on Jan 1st each year but few realised as we didn’t contact anyone to tell them. Then a large number were added when the DDs were activated. The rest came in as and when people renewed or joined.

      The thing about GOBA news is that around the end of Feb the membership sec has to produce a mailing list for the magazine. That is based on actual paid up members so anyone who paid after the day that list was run off wouldn’t get a magazine (or the window sticker that is enclosed in the Spring issue). Then when they did join/renew we would have to send out individual packages.

      Under the rolling membership scheme the only individual packages will be to new members, everyone else will be on the list and the mailing is done automatically by a mailing company. This year is a bit tricky but in future, whatever date you renew you will be on the mailing list. If you pay on Feb 28 and I run the list on Mar 1, you’re on. If you pay on Mar 2 you’re still on from last year. By having all mailings handled in a batch by a specialist mailing company we save a LOT of committee time. As for budgeting, the vast majority of memberships will still come in the spring whether because that’s when existing members set up DD or because it’s when new members tend to join anyway as they are contemplating a new season on the river.

      For obvious reasons we can’t hold an AGM for the foreseeable future and in practice the change makes very little difference to members, certainly nothing detrimental, so we are proceeding with this policy for now and will put it to the AGM for ratification as soon as we are allowed to have one. All members are allowed to attend, raise points and vote. Hope to see you there.

  5. Hi Phil,

    I have just seen the discussions between yourself and David & Pam (who I do not know, and have never met).

    I am fairly new to boating (about 3 years), was told about Goba when we bought our boat, and joined Goba “just in case I need to use the moorings”. To be honest, I think we’ve only used a Goba mooring once, however I think the existence of the Goba moorings and the work that the committee and volunteers does is worth supporting, so I do renew each year, and have just renewed by credit card, having forgotten to do it at the beginning of the month, for which I apologise.

    2 points I’d like to make regarding previous comments.
    1) you are correct that checking out by credit card is not obvious when using the paypal checkout, but you could just put a not on the previous page saying “The next page will take you to a ‘Paypal checkout page’. Please don’t worry if you don’t use Paypal, there is a (small, slightly non-obvious) button which says “Pay be credit/debit card”, if you press that button, you will then be able to pay by credit/debit card even if you don’t use Paypal”.

    2) regarding the new website/confusion over when the renewal period runs from. I can see both Phil’s point, and David & Pam’s perspective.

    Firstly, it’s great to see that the website has been updated and that there is a new system to manage membership, this makes it feel much more modern and less 1990’s website, which will likely reflect well for attracting new members too. I’m sure there is more to do, but it looks like a good start.

    Secondly, I appreciate how much (voluntary, unpaid) effort must go into the committee, doing this new website, membership processing, magazine, etc. So I can see how Phil (or whoever is doing the website) may have seemed that the quickest and easiest way of setting things up would be to move to rolling 1 year memberships from the time the person signs up . However, I do note that when I just paid by credit card (as I generally avoid direct debits), and it was slightly disconcerting to be treated like a new member without an existing membership, rather than an existing member that had lapsed at the beginning of the month, but was actually paying before the direct debit members. Fortunately I was doing it whilst logged into my existing account so it does seem to have tied the payment to my existing membership account, which is good.

    However thirdly, and more to the point, as David & Pam mentioned, during the signup process one of the screens said that my membership would run from 1st Jan – 31st Dec (which I assume is in line with current policy as David & Pam mention, though I admit that I haven’t read articles of association or other rules that may apply, and I can’t see them anywhere on the website to check). In contrast now I have paid, it says my invoice date is 31st Jan 2021, and that my membership will expire on 31st Jan 2022. So this is slightly confusing.

    Finally, and the main point that comes from the above comments – I think this is a good example of why articles of association/rules for a membership organisation and AGM’s exist. The decision of whether a membership should run for everyone from 1st Jan – 31st Dec, or 1st April – 31st March, or some other method such as a rolling period unique to each member, is a major decision with pros and cons for each. There will, I’m sure have been lots of thought and discussion put into the original decision of 1st Jan – 31st Dec when that was agreed many years, and probably decades, ago.

    Things have changed since those rules were put in place, and what you have written are various examples of why it may make sense to change the rules. The changes may well be justified, or there may be a better way to deal with the issues you mention, which do sound very real. But as David & Pam say, there are also merits to having one major renewal date so that the major admin is out of season, and only newcomers need to be dealt with in the season when everyone wants to be on their boat.

    Where there are defined rules, changing them is not something that one or two people can do proactively (however well intentioned), and then ask the next AGM to “rubber stamp” the changes retrospectively. This means it’s not as simple as “changing the membership rules for renewals now, and then the AGM agreeing next time it can be held”. Because the AGM may reject the changes. For good or ill, it means that renewals this year ought to be done according to current rules, and new rules proposed to the AGM, and then enacted afterwards _if_ approved.

    This can make membership organisations feel bureaucratic – because the effort in making sure that enough members are convinced to vote in favour at an AGM may feel daunting compared to sticking with the status quo. And can lead to committee members (who are volunteers) thinking “is it worth the effort to make changes”? However I can see benefits too – because as David & Pam (who I have never met or heard of before, and I have no idea if they are on the committee themselves) point out, there are pros and cons to every different choice of membership period. So making a change does need to be considered, and the pros and cons thought through – if the change is compelling and the vast majority agree with the change, then an AGM will approve it. If it’s complex and there are as many drawbacks as there are positives, then the change may not get approved.

    If a change to the membership period hasn’t been approved at the AGM, you really don’t want to renew members on a basis that isn’t in line with the current rules, as it could create all sorts of issues for the committee and the organisation as a whole if the AGM were to then reject the suggested changes. That could be lots of admin, but has risk of legal implications too if some people feel that they’ve not paid until 31st Jan, or 14th Feb, rather than 31st Dec. (At this point I don’t know whether there is lots of support among the membership for a change in membership period or not. Looking on the website at the Committee minutes page, I can’t see any notes from the AGMs in 2019 or 2018, so I have no idea if this is an actively discussed and broadly supported change or not. You may be confident that there is widespread support for this change.)

    The website implementation (and other billing) should follow the rules of the organisation. The organisation should not be forced to change it’s rules to suit a website developer. Even if the website developer is a volunteer, the website developer is still the servant of the organisation, and must therefore implement the organisations rules as they exist at any point in time.

    I would therefore respectfully suggest that, probably, the right approach should be to renew everyone based upon the current rules of 1st Jan – 31st Jan, which are the rules they’re currently expecting and are the current rules of the organisation. And to also set anyone that is renewing by card at the moment and that has already renewed by card in December 2020 and January 2021 (including myself) to have our membership set to start on 1st Jan 2021 and expire on 31st Dec 2021, which is what we agreed to on the renewal/sign up page just before we placed payment. That will mean than no-one on the committee is in any breach of the current organisation rules.

    My interpretation would be that the correct/legal approach would then be for the committe to to propose to the AGM a change to the rules, to whatever it is that has been proposed, and that enough discussion amongst the commitee and membership has been had in advance of the AGM that you’re confident the rule changes will be approved. I’m sorry if that feels like a pain and bureaucratic – but I suspect if you don’t do that, it could lead to even more of a pain at the AGM, and the risk of an awful lot of work to undo things after the AGM, with the risk of upsetting some members that have renewed on the “new” way of doing things.

    I can imagine that across 1000+ members there may be many points of view on changing the membership dates, from many different people. As such, getting approval to a change may not be easy at the AGM. Conversely if the benefits are presented clearly, and if the benefits of a change are compelling, with those that want to input being given a chance to input before a change, then there may be lots of support and it may be easy. As someone that has used one Goba mooring once, 3 years ago, and we had the mooring to ourselves, I really don’t know how it may go!

    I hope that input is constructive and helps diffuse any situation that could evolve.

    Best regards
    Dave

  6. I’ve probably said more than enough already, but I can only echo Dave’s points above about sticking to the rules. A sensible change, properly explained to members at an AGM will almost certainly gain approval but it is most important that as a regulated Provident Society this is done – and seen to be done – in the correct fashion.
    None of this is intended as a criticism of our current hard-working and respected committee but as a previous committee member for quite a few years I do have a little first-hand knowledge of how important it is to stick to the rules! (Dave’s point about the absence of the Rules on the new website is very pertinent and it is something that should be corrected at the first opportunity.)
    One other point that I have already mentioned in correspondence with the committee is that no Annual Return for the year to 31st December 2019 has been submitted to the Financial Conduct Authority. This must, by law, normally be submitted not later than 7-months from the year-end (31st July). Because of the Covid-19 crisis the period was extended by three months (to 31st October 2020). It is now very overdue with the real prospect of significant penalties.

  7. Phil said:
    “ With the proposed new system someone who pays in March will still be a valid member the following February so they’ll get their magazine and sticker as part of the mass mail out. That will save GOBA £100’s annually, and make our (unpaid) jobs a lot easier.”
    The obvious flaw in this proposal is that someone who choses for whatever reason not to renew their membership in March will still receive the Spring magazine and a membership certificate and sticker for the whole year – without payment!

    1. That’s true, but I don’t think it’s a serious problem. Given that we get somewhere around 1800 magazines printed and always have quite a few left losing a few isn’t significant. Most members who don’t renew have given up boating or moved away, they may have a window sticker but they won’t derive much benefit from it. If the member has sold the boat with a sticker on it’s possible the new owner will benefit for the remainder of the season. Hopefully they will enjoy using the moorings and become a legitimate member the following year.

  8. Phil, now I am just astonished. Are you now suggesting that ‘boats’ are ‘ members’? Is this yet another convenient re-interpretation of the GOBA rules?

    1. No. Members are people not boats. However if a member has a sticker on a boat then sells the boat we are never going to be able to ensure that they remove the sticker and nor do we have the resources to go checking that every boat with a sticker on is still owned by the person who is, or was at the time, a member. Just being realistic. If someone benefits from using our moorings for the remainder of the season after buying a stickered boat then I think there’s a good chance they will join the following year. If they don’t and we spot their boat mooring without permission that is the time to talk to them and try to convince them to join.

      Can we stop this debate now? It seems we’re never going to convince each other so why waste the time?

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