Why are the fees going up?
The short answer is “because we need to.”
What if I want the long answer?
There are many expenses in running a swim club and team and maintaining the facilities here at Ygnacio Wood. Most of those expenses are hard costs (i.e. Coach salaries, lifeguards, PG&E, water bills, maintenance, etc) and don’t fluctuate with the number of members we have. So when our headcount stays flat or goes down our registration fees don’t cover the bills.
In 2014 our club membership had dropped and our swim team had shrunk to 88 swimmers, which is a nearly unsustainable number for a swim team of our type. This happens for a variety of reasons: the demographic of the neighborhood, the number of kids in the area and the ages of the swimmers. Some seasons we have lots of new families in the neighborhood, others we don’t. And sometimes families have team-aged kids, and other times there are younger kids.
A good example is our 6 & Under age group for swim team. In recent years we were lucky to have 6-8 swimmers total. In the past 2 years we have had 45 swimmers under age 8. That speaks volumes about how our members feel about the team (Go Ygnacio!) as they have been recruiting their friends to join. AND it is encouraging for the future of the team, as a large percentage of those swimmers will stay with the team through high school.
So for the 2015 season, we tried something new. The idea was to reduce fees and (hopefully) see a significant increase in membership. And guess what? It worked! We added 41 new team members (which was a net increase of 27 due to attrition). But also in 2015 we had to resurface the pool and perform other needed repairs. This came with a $105,000 price tag. (Check it out here!) We are currently carrying a $60,000 loan, with $1,000 per month in payments.
Unfortunately, we did not see any net growth in 2016. As a result, the Board of Directors determined that we needed to adjust our fees to cover our costs. The 2017 budget assumes zero net growth, and still runs a small deficit.
What’s the good news?
There is GOOD news! The increase in our fees for 2017 are still LOWER than what they were back in 2014. And we are on a better financial footing.
How about fundraising? Can that help close the deficit?
We have received mixed feedback about fundraising. Some families love the idea and are “all in” with both volunteering to help and also raising/spending money. But on the reverse side, some folks feel “nickel and dimed” when asked to participate in the various fundraisers we offer. Both views are equally valid and it’s always a dance to figure out the balance of fee structure vs. fundraising.
In addition, fundraising is a moving target…we can’t know each year how much we will raise. It’s tough to manage a budget when you can’t forecast a good chunk of the income.
In 2016, our fees only covered 60% of the cost of operating the club and team, leaving 40% of the budget dependent on fundraising. We had two major fundraisers. There was only 33% participation in the lap-a-thon. And at the auction last year, 90% of the money raised was spent by only 10% of our members. What that tells us is that we need to lower our dependence on fundraising. So for 2017 we will still rely on fundraising, but at a lower rate – around 25-30% of our budget.
Will we grow in 2017?
We don’t know… and that’s a tough issue. With Valley Vista Swim Team shutting down, we expect to see some new members. But we can’t be sure and we can’t build our budget around an expected increase that may not happen.
We rely on our membership (that’s you!) to bring new members in… we grow almost entirely by word-of-mouth. So if you love Ygnacio Wood then spread the word and recruit your friends!
How do our fees compare to other local clubs?
We also did an analysis of the cost of teams in the area, based on 2016 fees. We now fit in the middle… some teams are less (two have a very low teaser, first-year rate or are local, small neighborhood only team) and many clubs cost much more.
Do we have any other sources of funds?
We are an owner-operated swim club. We own the site, and the pool. And we get most of our funding from our membership. We have no Home-Owner’s Association funds.
We do have some fantastic supporters between our sponsors and some neighbors who have watched us grow over the past 51 years!
How many members are there at our club?
In 2016 we had a total of 105 families as members of our club. About half of those had kids on the swim team.
How much does the swim club & team make?
Zero… zilch! We are a non-profit and we are currently running a modest deficit. We need to get back to a modest surplus.
Our club costs a lot to run… it is just the nature of a swimming pool. We need to spend $8,000 on a new heater and to fix a leak in the baby pool before the season starts. We spent $105,000 resurfacing the pool 2-years ago. We also recently purchased new pool covers & lane lines for over $4,000 and a new timing system for over $4,500.
The only salaries paid or compensation given is to our coaching staff, lifeguards, and our sea pony coordinator. We pay small stipends to volunteer teen coaches (in our sea pony program) at the end of the season.
Club and team board members and all volunteers receive NO compensation, nor any discounts on fees. In 2017, we might pay people to work jobs, using funds we receive from members who pay to opt-out of jobs.
We also need to be focused on building a capital improvement fund. Over the next few years, our pool deck and the fencing will need some work done. In addition, we need to grow the fund to cover maintenance items in the years to come.
What’s this Gatekeeper job?
Actually, the gatekeeper job was around for a long time. We discontinued it a few years back when our membership was really low and we needed folks to volunteer for other jobs.
For many reasons the Board has decided to reinstate the gatekeeper job. All members are required to work four 2-hour shifts. The gatekeeper sits at the desk near the front gate. They are responsible for checking in everyone who comes to swim during club hours. This way we ensure that only members are using the facility.
In addition, having a gatekeeper means there will be someone available to answer the phone, answer questions, sell day-passes and sell items from our snack shack. And most importantly, for those times when we have only one lifeguard on duty, the presence of a gatekeeper offers extra security when there is no one else around. There was an incident at a nearby pool last year where a lifeguard, who was alone at their facility, was assaulted. While all the other reasons are important, the safety of our lifeguards is paramount.
What if I can’t or don’t want to work Gatekeeper jobs?
You can hire someone to work for you! We are assembling a list of neighbors who are willing to cover your shifts. The cost is $10/hour. You are required to contact someone from the list and confirm that they will work your shift(s). You can also opt out of your club jobs (Gatekeeper and other club jobs) for $175.
Can you help me with fees? This increase is too much for my family to handle.
We want to make sure all families that want to swim at our facility can do so. We can help you distribute payments over the season. Our job worker list is an excellent opportunity to work jobs (both team and club) and be paid for it.
For families that have extreme financial hardship should reach out to Gareth at email@example.com or Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.