Tandem Club of America Membership: Sorry, there’s just no way to spin this into a positive story….

I received my 2011 TCA Membership Roster and, as I have done for the last eight years, I thought I’d share a quick look at the Tandem Club of America’s (TCA) demographics. As always, my hand-tabulated counts from the membership listing were entered into my spreadsheets and looked at on a state-by-state basis in comparison to data from last year’s Membership Roster.  You can find the full report HERE at TheTandemLink.com.

Sadly, my year-over-year predictions of a continued slide in membership appears to continue unabated and based on what was published in this year’s 2011 Membership List, TCA membership at approx 650 is down 15% compared to last year, with a net reduction of 115 members.

Looking back and comparing membership to 2002 when I first started following the data, overall TCA membership has fallen by 807 or about 55%.

  • 35 of 50 states saw net losses in membership while only 2 saw a net increase: +1 in Massachussets and +2 in Colorado.
  • Leading the pack (not surprisingly) was California which lost a net of 13 members in the last year, down from 111 in 2002 to only 34 members as of January 2011… and now only 4th in total membership behind #1 Michigan, #2 Florida, and #3 Ohio, noting Florida lead-frogged over Ohio to move from #4 to #2.
  • Last year we watched Wyoming’s one lone member fall off the roll such that Cowboy State became the first of the 50 US states and District of Columbia to become unrepresented in TCA. Well, for 2011 Wyoming was joined by Alaska and Arkansas who no longer have TCA members. There are now 15 states & D.C. that have fewer than 5 members, up from just 7 in 2002.
  • All told, 15 states lost more than 20% of their membership during the past year, with Pennsylvania coming in 2nd to California for total net reductions with 8 members falling off the rolls.

This is last year’s editorial; no need to change since nothing at TCA has really changed: Just as I noted last year, unless TCA abandons its laissez-faire approach to managing the club and develops some type of vision for how it will deliver value to members in the future, I would expect the slide in membership to continue until the revenues from memberships will no longer cover the cost of printing and mailing out DoubleTalk and Web hosting fees. At that point, I’m not sure what happens.

Added: Perhaps DoubleTalk will soon be delivered via Email as a .pdf file to the 650 homes that still belong to TCA, unless the $15 a year membership costs are sufficient to sustain the cost of printing and mailing out the bi-monthly publication.  This is probably something that should have happened a long time ago…


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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6 Responses to Tandem Club of America Membership: Sorry, there’s just no way to spin this into a positive story….

  1. Mario says:

    What do you suggest they do ino order to bring value back into their membership?

    • TG says:

      Too hard to know without understanding the current TCA mission and vision for where the organization is trying to go.

      If those aren’t current, that would be a good place to start.

  2. Ross Battersby says:

    Perhaps the slide in membership for CA is due to the lack of tandem events in CA, just look at your post about rallies, they are all east of the rockies.

    I spoke to Alex Nutt, mtbtandems.com about coming west with an AORTA type event. He said, its coming next year 2012.

    • TG says:

      The rallies I mentioned in my most recent entry truly were events where I’d recently received Emails from the organizers either announcing the start of registration or with updated info for the rally calendar… But, that said,

      There are a few tandem rallies west of the Rockies like the Northwest Tandem Rally that draws hundreds of tandem enthusiasts as well as this coming weekend’s Rice Valley Tandem Rally: http://www.chicovelo.org/main/century-series/6-ricevalleytandem. And, let’s not forget that the only tandem stage race in the US is held in Eugene, Oregon each year.

      But, THAT said, I’ve never been able to break the code on why there isn’t an annual California Tandem Rally, especially given that Santana Cycles calls LA’s Inland Empire home. There have been a number of clubs that have come and gone and come back, kinda like a few of the tandem shops, but even with a lot of tandem teams in California, most of the tandem folks don’t seem to have a strong interest in tandem-only clubs or events.

  3. Jack Goertz says:

    Nice post, but sad news! TCA was originally created to bring folks together to share their love of tandeming. For that, it was great! The newsletter worked very well, and the internet wasn’t there. It was just about the only reliable source of information about tandems and tandeming. There were no local groups/clubs, and the TCA was the only game in town!
    Today we have tandem newsgroups, tandem blogs, local tandem clubs, tandem events around the country, on-line events listing, etcetera.
    On the one hand, the TCA is/was very successful! It promoted tandemming and helped it get to the state it is today (tandeming, not TCA). On the other hand, I believe its success is also responsible for the declines over the past 10 years. As local clubs have formed and become established, the need for the TCA is lessened.
    I still think it serves a purpose — it’s really hard to take an on-line list of events into your “reading room” and make out next year’s vacation plans!

    • TG says:

      Thanks for the feedback and additional insight Jack.

      I guess the questions that rattle around in my head continue to be more along the lines of where is TCA headed and how is it adapting to change?

      Have y’all ever polled the membership on their satisfaction with the current club model and/or solicited ideas on where they think TCA should be headed?

      Given the move to on-line club membership dues payments, the proliferation of Email and increased internet savvy on the part of many TCA members, has TCA considered moving to electronic delivery of DoubleTalk to free up membership dues that presently goes towards printing and postage and redirecting that revenue towards other ways of delivering more value to members?

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