As you may already know, I’m the Membership Services Director and Temporary Editor of club’s newsletter, At the Sign of the Cat. Thanks, Bill, for providing a forum for folks interested in the Cougar Club of America.
Joining or renewing your membership in the CCOA is easy. Just go to CCOA Membership webpage and follow the directions.
Annual Membership comes in several flavors:
~$30 for members who receive the newsletter by email;
~$45 for members who receive the newsletter by postal mail to a U.S. address;
~$50 for members who receive the newsletter by postal mail to a non-U.S. address.
Good question, Al. The Club is just a bunch of people who like Cougars. It’s all volunteer, so the only things that get done are the things someone does. It’s a lot like a sewer… you get out of it pretty much what you put into it. It’s a non-profit organization, so it has perpetual existence - no one can take their ball and go home or sell out to the high bidder. The other side of that coin is a lot of people don’t want to take on a project or create something they don’t own. Belonging to a Club is all some people want, and with the CCOA you get a glossy membership card and window sticker to show you belong. Pretty sweet, eh?
Great Answer? I was thinking maybe there was something I missed about being a member. Other then the newsletter I could not see any benefit to membership. Perhaps I missed the Big picture and someone could explain.
What exactly is the membership fee used for? Why is the person in charge still the same one that did nothing from 06-09 while the club was dormant? Give me some reasons and I would renew my membership, but a card and a sticker?
Does the CCOA have annual or monthly meetings, cruise ins? I am a member of a small car club and we get together for lunch and dinner cruises a couple of times a year. It doesn’t take much from the members other than showing up. Might be an idea for members if they live close enough to each other.
Some of the value the club provides is represented by the accepted judging standards for National shows. CCOA supported the NJ/PA clubs this year when they put on the Nationals East in New Jersey. While all of the labor was provided by the NJ/PA club members, CCOA sponsorship provided insurance coverage as well as the judging sheets and organizational model.
The national database, administered by Phil Parcells, was originally a function of CCOA as were most of the registries. The lack of activity over the past several years left the registrars functioning pretty much on their own, though.
The CCOA website serves as a central reference source for vendor links that people might otherwise never find. One of the challenges for CCOA is that it may be, ironically, too open. All of the information anyone needs is available on the CCOA website, whether or not they are a member. So it’s a free resource and that begs the question of value for members. Why pay dues when everything the CCOA does outside the registries is available to anyone for free?
I see the main question before clubs such as CCOA not as what value they currently offer, but what value they will offer in an age of Internet forums and readily available expert knowledge? How will they stay relevant? I don’t think that question has been answered yet, nor do I think anyone is actively working on answering it. But, as Rob said, that question won’t get answered unless members step up to answer it. I’ll freely admit to being part of the problem. I just don’t have the time or inclination to get involved, so I pay my annual dues just to know I’m providing some degree of support for the organization that exists to support the cars we enjoy. Not a great answer, but it’s the only one I have at the moment.
I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but it seems like owning a Cougar, being a Cougar collector, seems a lot more legitimate because there is a national club. I think it is important for there to be an entity that is dedicated to the preservation of the history and heritage of our cars. The internet has been great for Cougar owners, and not so good for the club. Where the club was once the single best source of information, it is now just one of many. I think that Bill Pratt hit the nail on the head when he said that the club needs to find new ways to stay relevant. I believe it is relevant, but the value story has changed. Maybe we can get Randy and a few of the other board members interested in talking about what can be done.
Unless you have read the bylaws you might not be aware of the fact that people who are commercially involved in the Cougar hobby, like myself, are not allowed to serve as officers. This is as it should be. We can can be dues paying members, and that is as it should be too.
Lots of comments. Hopefully I’m catching them all in the following. Keep in mind, membership in the CCOA is voluntary, and is not required to participate in any show or to submit VINs to the registry. Not everyone will consider membership worthwhile.
Financial reports are published quarterly in the newsletter. Most of the expenses are related to the newsletter, basic office supplies and postage for membership renewals/new members. CCOA did not purchase insurance - I think we dropped the ball on that and are fortunate there have been no claims. We haven’t had nominations & elections (or coups) since I’ve been on the Board. The Board’s consensus has been that we have an open Board seat (Club Relations) if someone wants to apply. There have been calls for volunteers and another is being written for the next newsletter.
Stu and Suds from the CCNJ/PA are probably the best people to ask about shows/judging. I really haven’t been involved in that - other than providing mailing lists and such. I know Bill Quay (CCOA VP) was asked for some interpretations of the rules which he brought to the Board. The CCOA has not received any requests for sponsorship of National or Regional shows for 2012. Stu mentioned on mc.net that the CCNJ/PA isn’t doing one for '12. The Board has discussed, but made no decision on, increasing the sponsorship amount since it hasn’t been adjusted for many years and our fund balance has grown. The CCOA does not have annual or monthly meetings or cruise ins. Membership being spread across the US and 10 countries makes that problematic. Randy usually has a gathering at Carlisle, but I don’t think those are “official” CCOA meetings.
The discussion about relevance has been going on for a long time. There have been numerous threads on mc.net, curb, yahoo, etc. about what the CCOA could/would/should do. There never has been a shortage of ideas. There have been problems moving the ball forward… it seems like something breaks as soon as the last thing that broke gets fixed. Sort of like owning a 40 year old car. Currently, the website needs some work and the volunteer webmaster’s life has been consumed with other things. The Board is planning a Request for Proposals that will include compensation. That might be a first for the Club. Sponsoring other projects might be a way of staying relevant and showing some quid pro quo.
The CCOA does have a conflict of interest policy, but it doesn’t prohibit those with commercial interests from serving on the Board or in volunteer positions. It does put some restrictions on dealings between the CCOA and any commercial entity in which a director has an interest - basically requiring full disclosure and majority vote of disinterested directors. To my knowledge, the situation has never come up.
So… all that… a glossy membership card and a window decal… pretty sweet, eh?
I think if you were to take a look at current and past CCOA BOD members you will see that many have been involved in the Cougar hobby commercially, including the present Chairperson Randy Goodling. There is nothing wrong with that just as long as they are not using their club position to further their business interests at the detriment of the club.
What would be a fair price? I don’t know, at $25/yr how about $250? The equivalent of 10 years, but not really because the club gets it all up front. Interruptions in service could happen I suppose. Unless the club is disbanded the membership should remain valid. Honorary memberships are a great idea, but that’s not really an option for most of us.
I realize I’m speaking as sort of an outsider here since I am not a member. But I actually went to the website to sign up last week and that was the first thing I looked for was a lifetime membership. Obviously it wasn’t there. So I thought I would offer it up as a suggestion. Yes I would purchase one and no it probably wouldn’t stop me from joining if it wasn’t made available.
And by the way, I couldn’t connect to the site earlier today.