You will be aware that for some time your Committee has been considering establishing a simple database of our membership. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly we know very little about our membership as a whole. We do not know its age profile or gender profile. We do not know the areas of the town which are well (or poorly) represented in our membership. Increasingly your Society and its national parent the Civic Trust are becoming eligible to make applications to the Lottery or to European funds to assist with our activities. We did, you may remember, receive a grant from the Lottery Fund to support our Millennium Symposium event in 2000 and will certainly be making more applications in the future. Such applications usually require detailed statistics about our Society, and at present we cannot supply this information.
The second reason is more for our own use. For some time we have been made aware that perhaps we don't find enough ways to involve the individual members in the activities of the Society. There must be many skills and a vast wealth of accumulated experience amongst our 1000-plus members which would be a great resource to the Society if we only knew about it. There is scope for finding somebody who could help with applications for grants, or for encouraging younger members by working with schools, and many other possibilities.
Not everybody is interested in joining the Executive Committee and helping to shape the policies of the Society. But many members would perhaps be interested in helping in some particular way, perhaps not on an ongoing basis, but happy to help with a particular project as a one-off. It therefore seemed sensible to find people who might be interested in helping the Society in such a focused way. This we have tried to do in the Membership Profile form you will find with this Newsletter.
We have tried to ask only clearly relevant questions and I decided that it must be contained on one side of paper. The questionnaire is the result of very careful thought and planning and I hope you will agree that the information you provide will be of very great benefit to your Society.
Each copy of the Newsletter contains two copies of the form and Family Memberships should fill in one for each adult member. At this stage we are not extending the scheme to children of the family. I hope you will appreciate that the value of this exercise depends upon a good response from you - we need to know about all our members.
Finally let me assure you that if you indicate that you might be willing to help in some way you will not be making a commitment - merely allowing yourself to be contacted. When we have a need for somebody we shall sift through the database and pick three or four people to telephone to give further details. Only at that stage will you agree to an involvement.
The Data Protection Act has been observed in this exercise and I can assure you that any information you provide will be confidential to The Ipswich Society and will be used only by the Society to further its aims and objectives. I do urge you most strongly to find the few minutes needed to fill in the form and please return it in the envelope provided to Philippa Isaac, our new Membership Secretary. Thank you.
One of our sister organisations, the Ipswich Building Preservation Trust, usually hosts an annual fund-raising entertainment before Christmas at the Unitarian Meeting House. The next one has been postponed until Sunday 2 February. Details to follow in our January Newsletter.