I’ve had several conversations with people over the last year about the size of Lochac, and challenges to our membership. Is the kingdom shrinking? Are we losing members to LARPers or other medieval groups? How can we recruit more new members?
Keen followers of this column (both of them) will remember that I did some checking several months ago, and discovered that the size of Lochac has remained basically unchanged for several years, but that we achieve this by recruiting almost exactly as many new members as we lose. But the question of why our membership turns over has kept me wondering, so last month I ran a small, not-very-scientific survey. I emailed 100 people whose membership had expired earlier this year, and asked them why they didn’t renew it.
I offered a few standard options to choose from, and also allowed people to write in their own reasons. Given that I was basically asking people to tell me what was wrong with Lochac, I braced myself for an emotional kicking. So when the results came back, I felt a bit the way you do when the dentists lets you off with a scolding to floss more often, but sends you away without drilling.
The most common reason people gave for not renewing their membership was that they forgot to. This is easy for us to fix, and you can expect to see more helpful and friendly reminders from the Registrar in future. The second most common reason was changes in life, that made playing impractical — mostly having babies, and a few people having health problems. It’s a timely reminder to make sure that our events and regular get-togethers are accessible and baby-friendly. Some groups are already great at this – I doff my cap at Dismal Fogs in particular.
The first of the real problems I was worried about came in at third place, with a few people saying they had dropped out because the reality of the Society didn’t live up to the Dream. They thought their local groups had too much politicking and negativity. Look, there was never any doubt that this happens – but I only heard that from four out of 100 people!
It’s an issue, and it falls to each of us to remember that the Society IS a live action role playing game. There simply isn’t a dungeon master, and the role each of us is playing is somebody better than our mundane selves. As you arrive at any event, remind yourself that you have just rolled +1 for courtesy and grace.
And the dread dark fear, that all our members were drifting off to join other groups? It must happen, but all I can tell you today is that it happens less than one percent of the time. Nobody ticked that box. I encourage you to talk in your groups about retaining members, at least as often as you talk about attracting new ones.
Yours in service,
Lord Nicodemus Novello