Last year, in response to some legal issues, we ran a number of fundraisers, and I’m tremendously thankful to all who supported them and helped ensure that we could keep the club running.
Now that is behind us, I’d like to talk openly about the costs involved in keeping the club going.
I took over BLUF in mid 2009. My first full year was therefore 2010 - just after we'd rebuilt the site and launched BLUF v3. Our total income that year? Just a touch over £1,600.
We set up BLUF Ltd to give the club an independent financial existence, separate from my bank accounts, in 2016. So far that's the first year for which we have finalised accounts.
The total of donations to BLUF for years 2010 to 2016 inclusive comes to just over £23k. That's a yearly average of just £3,300, with many of the earlier years much lower than that. In that time, the club has grown, and with it the admin load. We (well, I) have created a BLUF API, and provided apps for Windows, Mac and Android. In late 2016, I started a four month full time project to rewrite the site from scratch
That site - BLUF v4 - launched at the end of 2016. I don't think it's unreasonable to say that an awful lot was achieved on very little - most local clubs that charge membership will have a lot more income than BLUF. Since then, I've continued to tweak and enhance the site, and we've also launched our iPhone app, and most recently our BLUF Calendar app.
In effect, this has been possibly only because I've been in a position to subsidise the club through my own time and money - I think it's obvious that the amount of things done would cost a lot more than £3000 per year at commercial rates.
In August 2013, we launched the BLUF Card. This grants member discounts at a variety of stores, in return for donations. The minimum qualifying donation is presently £10/€10, and there are just over 400 BLUF cards in circulation - out of almost 3900 members. That’s our main source of income, and it’s no longer really sufficient.
Over the years, the admin load for BLUF has grown, and there’s not just the daily approval of members, and photos. Developing the site is an ongoing task, and one that is effectively a full time job.
For example, at the moment, our Android app is quite out of date. Parts of the app and the systems that support it need to be updated, to ensure that notifications will work when certain Google features are changed later this year.
The tools built into the website that allow us to easily post messages to our Facebook page need to be updated, to use the latest version of Facebook’s API.
And our iPhone app needs to be converted to run on Android, so that users have the same experience on all their devices. It also needs additional work to add missing features, and to enable translations, so that more members can use it in the language of their choice, instead of being stuck with just English.
While I’m able to do these tasks, they take time - and that means that, effectively, I’m not doing other paid work, and using up my savings. That, I’m afraid, is not a situation that can continue indefinitely.
So, I’d love more members to take the funding of the club seriously, and consider donating, so that we can ensure we can do all the things we need, to provide the best possible platform for leather uniform fans to connect with each other.
You can donate here