During its recent annual general meeting the Well Society discussed two significant but straightforward changes to its membership structure.
Firstly, the Well Society board presented some draft outline proposals to introduce direct debit payments both for new members to pay their joining fees and for existing members to pay annual subscriptions.
Secondly, board members presented a proposal to overhaul the benefits scheme in order to help the society raise the money to achieve its goal of securing the long-term financial security of Motherwell Football Club through community ownership.
The Well Society has so far raised more than £400,000 and recruited more than 1,200 members but the early success has not been maintained and recent consultation and research has suggested that the £1.5million target is unrealistic in the short to medium term given the current interest from non-members.
A survey showed that non-members were put off joining by the requirement for a one-off joining fee so it was proposed that monthly direct debits be introduced to help spread the cost.
The board also stressed that the society needed to raise funds through its existing members, whose renewal fees currently go to the club to ensure it can provide the Well Society benefits. It was argued that this scheme benefits no-one as members need to pay for benefits, the cost of the benefits exceeds income to the club, and the Well Society receives no annual income from members.
The board’s alternative proposal was that the benefits system is wound-up to allow members to contribute to the fund needed to allow the transfer of shares and protect the club from financial distress.
This would help raise an estimated £75,000 each year for the society which would go towards the target, with more possible as new members join.
The board proposed that founding members be compensated for the loss of benefits, for example through free entry into a new substantial annual prize draw.
The vast majority of those present at the meeting voted in favour of the board developing its alternative plan in greater detail for more formal consideration.
The board is currently working on much less expensive ways to provide a package for members who pay annual subscription fees and would welcome any suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website.