We've been making plans. BLUF will turn 25 this decade, and I'm sure all members would love to see it carry on for as long as possible. And that means that it needs to generate enough money to cover its costs in the long term.
I hope that 2020 will be the year that we can continue the process of putting the club on a more secure financial footing, building on some of the work done in recent years. We're now a limited company, so we have a legal existence, and that brings with it obligations and costs.
We've been selling some custom merchandise for a couple of years now, starting with the embroidered patches that first went on sale in Antwerp at LeatherPride 2018. We've been able to use the income from those to invest in more, and then to create the first batch of BLUF tie clips, which we sold directly from our new store. That first batch created enough profit to order a larger second batch, at better prices, creating more income for the club.
What next? With some of the money earned from the BLUF Store, we'll be launching a new BLUF membership card. How is this different to the existing BLUF Card? We know that many of you have asked in the past about a physical card - most people display them on screen on one of our apps. But unless ordered in large quantities, custom cards can be expensive. Even posting them, with members spread across fifty-five countries, would cost thousands of pounds.
So, we're planning on adding some new options to the site, which a few of you have been helping test. A key part of those is regular donations, which will help ensure we have a more predictable income. We'll be partnering with a company called GoCardless, which supports payments directly from a user's bank account, in many countries around the world. You'll be able to choose from a range of amounts, and whether to make a donation every month, or four times a year.
We know not every BLUF member has lots of cash to spare, so our regular donations will start at £2.50 per month - less than the cost of a pint of beer. And in return for that, you'll receive one of the new BLUF black cards, posted to you wherever you are in the world.
Like the current BLUF card, which you can print at home or display in our apps, the BLUF black card will entitle you to a selection of discounts. We've arranged with some of those partners to give an additional level of discounts to people with a black card, as an extra reward for regularly supporting the club.
The back of the BLUF black cards will feature a barcode that has two functions. It will allow shops to verify the card is still valid and - if you set up the details on the BLUF website - it can also be used to quickly share whatever contact details you want, with other people. All they'll have to do is point their phone camera at the barcode, tap to open the link, and grab your details.
Holders of both the existing white and new black BLUF cards will also get an additional feature on the site - the ability to print out labels with a unique bar code. You'll be able to add your home and holiday addresses, and update them as often as you like. When the code is scanned - if your baggage is lost, for instance - it will display the details you chose.
I hope that enough members find these changes worthwhile, and take full advantage of them. The aim is to encourage people to give more, so that the club no longer has to rely on my subsidy, while ensuring that all the core things we do - providing a way for people to connect with each other, remain available without limits to every member of the club, whatever their means.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.