Dear Local Group representatives / committee members / online group administrators,
As was discussed at the last local group representatives meeting on 27th June, I am working on a big overhaul of the FSA membership system. The current system is very old and creaky. Things like payments and automatic renewal reminders/receipts are unreliable. The system is not well integrated and it is difficult for our administration team to use. This makes the whole thing inefficient for you to use and expensive for us to run.
I am half way through building the new system, which has been tested with another organisation and seems to work very well. It has some lovely features such as automatically populating member maps (something that we have tried to do for you a few times but been unsuccessful). It will also allow members to join local groups when they join up with the FSA.
Judging from the response at the local groups meeting, there is some interest in affiliated FSA local groups using the functions of the new system. Namely, it is possible for me to give access to the local group member data and for a local group administrator to manage that group in the same way that national FSA can manage the entire membership database (members joining up through our website will be made aware of this before hand). This means that you will be able to email everyone from your group through our system and track engagement with that member including things like attendance at your events. You will be able to have your own events calendar and manage your events yourself.
The new system does not include the ability to upload files (frankly, I am glad about that because it is a security risk for the website).
You need to download the files for your group that you need to retain. All local group files will be deleted when the new system is launched on or soon after 22nd July.
The new system also does not include a group page where comments may be left. However, I have created separate group forums although I understand that most groups prefer to use Facebook. The new system DOES allow members to message each other directly, without them being ‘friends’, which is a limitation of the current system.
The current system will be removed from the website once the new system launches. The contact details for your group will be available to the public through the new system (a local groups map/database). However, the current functions that the groups have will be removed.
Affiliated FSA local groups are eligible to have full admin access for their group within our system. This is a serious role that has legal implications due to data protection. If an affiliated local group wishes to make use of this facility they need to let me know and provide me with the details of their nominated administrator. I will need to have a conversation with this person to ensure that they fully understand their role and responsibilities.
I cannot give unaffiliated groups access to member data and so cannot give them administration access. However, I will create separate forums for those groups on the website, which will allow those group members to continue to communicate with each other through the FSA website.
Please contact Gareth@forestschoolassociation.org with any questions or to confirm that you want your affiliated FSA local group to have full administration access. I would be grateful if you could do this within the next 2 weeks.
We are hoping to launch the new system on or soon after 22nd July.
Gareth Davies firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. the fact that I am having to communicate in this way demonstrates the limitations of the current system