Discussion Document on proposed changes to the Membership System of the Scottish Hang Gliding and Paragliding Federation


February 22nd 2001.           David Thomson



What is the SHPF ?


The SHPF is (and always has been) a Federation of the hang gliding and paragliding Clubs in Scotland.  It receives Grant aid from SportScotland to subsidise improvements in the standards of flying performance, Coach training, and safety, and it does this by organising courses and events  (e.g.  Club Coaching, First Aid, Cross Country Skills, Parachute Repacking).  It promotes a Series of competitions to allow Scottish pilots to compete at a level suitable for their experience.  Through the Reciprocal Sites Agreement, it provides a means for pilots to fly at the sites of all the Clubs in Scotland, by communicating the relevant site information (not just location,  but also local rules and restrictions).  It also publishes the Flying Scot to keep Scottish pilots informed about what’s going on in Scotland.


Why should I join SHPF ?   


Every pilot in Scotland should be a member of SHPF because every pilot in Scotland benefits in some way from the activities listed above which SHPF promote.  These are activities which can be best achieved at a National level.  SHPF does not attempt to provide any of the benefits which are best provided within a Club.


Why should I join a Club ?


Apart from the obvious social benefits of contact with likeminded pilots, Clubs provide the structure to assist pilots develop their (post Club Pilot) skills in a much safer and more effective manner than "learn by your own mistakes ".  Even more obvious is the basic requirement of somewhere to fly;- Scotland isn’t an empty playground of hills waiting to be flown;-  the vast majority of places we fly are sites negotiated  by the Clubs.  By being a member of a Club, you are contributing to, rather than just using, the existing “infrastructure”.


Why do we need to change ?


A]  Currently, a significant number of pilots in Scotland are not members of SHPF.  Some are not members of any Club, and are unaware of SHPF; some clubs operate a structure where SHPF membership is optional.


B]  The current SHPF membership system requires each pilot to pay an individual membership fee, normally collected via one of the Clubs.    e.g. if a new pilot joins a Club he doesn't become a "SHPF member" until the long and almost untraceable route of a transfer of £6 from him through a club treasurer, to a SHPF treasurer, to a SHPF secretary, to a Flying Scot editor, and the issue of a Flying Scot before he knows he is a "SHPF member"


C] Some pilots wish to participate in the SHPF events but are not members.  Tracing through the route described above to establish why, takes a large amount of unnecessary administration effort which the volunteers who organise events could do without.   Despite much effort, lack of success in this has led to the unfortunate situation of Scottish pilots participating in SHPF events but not being included in the final results.


What could we change to improve things ?


Rather than each individual pilot effectively joining SHPF by paying an individual membership fee (either via a Club or not) it would be simpler and more effective for each Club to pay an annual  affiliation fee to SHPF.  All Club members would, therefore, automatically become SHPF members, thereby largely eliminating the complications of  individual membership fees, and the exclusion of pilots from SHPF events.  Since the SHPF is a Federation of the hang gliding and paragliding Clubs in Scotland, it seems logical that the only method of joining SHPF is simply to join one of the affiliated Clubs.  


How do we achieve the change ?


To achieve a situation where every Club member instantly and automatically is an SHPF member, we need to reduce the dependence on a "per capita" subscription payment from each pilot.  A significant proportion of a pilot’s SHPF fees is spent on the printing and distribution of the Flying Scot.  If we could reduce this cost, the SHPF could provide all the benefits it currently does, but with a much simpler, and successful membership system. 


What would happen to the Flying Scot ?


The plan is to continue to produce the Flying Scot, so all the useful site information, safety bulletins, competition announcements and results, and excellent articles by Scottish pilots, would be provided to all Scottish pilots.  However, instead of printing and posting to every pilot on the SHPF database (ie the ones who have paid their £6 ),  an electronic and paper copy will be sent to each affiliated Club, and they will distribute it to all Club members.  The plan is to coordinate the publication of the Flying Scot and Club Newletters to send it in one mailing.  It is anticipated that much greater use of Email will mean that most pilots would receive the FS electronically direct from the FS editor.  It will also be available on the SHPF website as soon as it is published.  We also intend to make more effective use of the "Club News" page in Skywings for notification of SHPF news.


What if I don’t have an affiliated Club near me ?


This is precisely what the "individual member" category was originally intended for.  If you happen to live somewhere remote from where any affiliated Club operates, you can still benefit from the advantages of SHPF membership - you can participate in all SHPF events, and will receive the Flying Scot directly.   Note the key phrase above - "remote from where any affiliated Club operates" - This is a significant change.  Any application for “individual membership”,  will be determined by the SHPF committee. It would normally be anticipated that pilots will be members of the Club whose sites they regularly fly.



What if I am a member of more than one Club ?


No problem!  This proposal removes the requirement for Clubs to have 2 membership fees (with or without SHPF fees) because the "per capita" fee due to SHPF will be about the same as a pint, so unless you’re a real meanie - not worth bothering about.   This will be a huge benefit to all Club and SHPF treasurers who have had to administer the current system !!


How will I know I am an "SHPF member" (or not!)


The plan is that each affiliated Club will have its own membership page on the SHPF website.  The Club secretary simply has to list the names of all the members of that Club (- just names, not addresses -to avoid Data Protection rules).   By this simple system, all event organisers, will instantly be able to see who is an "SHPF member".  With the provision of an "individual member" page for those pilots who live in remoter areas, the whole picture will be instantly transparent.


What about money ?


Each Club would pay an affiliation fee in one sum, fairly early in the season.  This would be proportional to their membership at the end of the previous year.  The fee would, of course, be proposed by the SHPF committee, when the budget is known, and agreed at  the SHPF AGM.


By reducing the Flying Scot distribution costs, and  increasing the number of pilots in SHPF by a significant proportion, each pilot would contribute less but the same amount of money would be available to spend on the main aims of the SHPF.


Who would the proposed changes affect ?


For the larger Clubs who currently collect SHPF fees from all members, the change will be minimal, but will lead to simpler membership administration.  For the Club members who, for one reason or another, find themselves excluded from events because they have not sorted out their SHPF membership, they will be "in " rather than "out".   If they have chosen to be "out" (i.e. by refusing to join any of the Clubs), it will be readily apparent.  Some pilots may be total “loners” – they never fly any Club sites; never compete in any events; never need any coaching advice; never need any First Aid assistance – but realistically, there cannot be many in this category.  Hopefully, the pilots who are not currently members of any Club, can be encouraged to join one of the existing Clubs or perhaps start a new one.


Who has been consulted ?  


The proposals were discussed at the SHPF Committee Meeting on 27th November 2000 in Menstrie, and the outline described in the December Flying Scot.  To make the proposed changes work, they need the support and commitment from the Clubs. To this end, a meeting of LLSC, PPPC, SMPC, and Extreme club representatives was held in Stirling on Sunday 14th Jan 2001, to discuss all the issues relating to SHPF membership.  The proposals were discussed and developed at that meeting.  The Clubs not represented at that meeting have been consulted, as far as possible, by phone or Email.  Each Club either already has or will discuss the proposals at their respective AGMs.  So far, general agreement has been reached. 

A draft of this discussion document was distributed and discussed at the SHPF AGM on 17th Feb 2001 at the Scottish Gliding Centre.


How do we implement the proposed changes ?  


No changes to the SHPF constitution are proposed, although some clarification could be added when it is next revised. 


At the SHPF AGM on 17th Feb  2001, there was unanimous support for the principles contained in the Discussion Document, and for moving towards managing the membership system in the manner proposed, as soon as possible.  To this end, it was agreed that, subject to agreement from all the SHPF affiliated Clubs, it would be adopted forthwith, and an Affiliation Fee will be paid by each Club in proportion to its membership at the end of 2000.  The total of these fees will be sufficient to meet the planned expenditure for 2001, and will be significantly lower, on a “per capita” basis, than the projected £6.50.


What other benefits are there ?


Part of the benefit of moving towards a true "Federation of Clubs" is improved Club representation on the SHPF committee.  To achieve this, each affiliated Club has been requested to nominate a representative on the Committee.  Hopefully, by moving in this direction, we can make better progress on the important issues which really affect us as pilots - better communication between the Clubs, better events, improved safety, improved pilot performance, development of the Scottish Sites Guide etc etc.


When the proposals above are accepted and implemented, we will be a long way towards achieving 2 major aims;-.  Firstly, that every paraglider and hang glider pilot in Scotland is a member of  SHPF and can benefit fully from it's activities and support; and secondly that, where possible, every paraglider and hang glider pilot in Scotland, is a member of one of the Scottish Clubs