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Marketing and Operations for IMBA Chapters

The IMBA Chapter Program is a strategic approach to club management and creating a unified network of advocates. Some of the benefits include:

  1. Joint membership, which means that IMBA and Chapters are not competing for membership. In most cases the overlapping membership is substantially smaller than expected thus membership for both entities grows when membership is merged.
  2. Automated renewal system. Utilizing IMBA’s automated renewal systems, the burden of managing memberships is substantially decreased. For those organizations with sophisticated systems it offers the opportunity to redirect those funds to on the ground projects.
  3. Fully integrated chapters have access to IMBA’s professional member services staff. Member services has tools and programs to help with co-branded marketing materials and help coordinate and provide rewards for local volunteers.
  4. Fundraising for mountain biking happens at both the local and national levels. At the national level IMBA leads the efforts to secure federal funding for the Recreational Trails Program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other appropriated sources. IMBA also make a coordinated effort to raise funds through our Trail Building Fund, which is used to support Trail Solutions efforts around the globe and to support local projects as chosen by the regional directors.

At the local level IMBA’s staff can provide support for fundraising initiatives such as grant applications, event promotions and agency partnerships. Chapters have greater access to IMBA’s Government Affairs team to help engage in advocacy issues on both the local and national level. The increased engagement helps drive membership increases.

Some best practices for a sustainable IMBA Chapter.

  1. Create a broad base of membership by appealing to as many riders as possible. Cover the entire spectrum of riding styles and skill levels.
  2. Build a diversified revenue stream by cultivating major donors, hosting fundraisers and developing corporate sponsorships.
  3. Invest in robust partnerships with other recreation interests, fellow trail users, and conservation interests. Look for non-endemic partnerships such as health and wellness or local businesses that benefit from mountain biking.
  4. Take the time to develop working relationships with your local land managers. Listen to their issues and help solve their problems while still pursuing your goals.
  5. Delegate of roles within the chapter to create opportunities for other to engage and prevent burn out because a few people are doing all the heavy lifting.

Stories from the Trail

Chris Orr Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers (California)

  • When they became a chapter membership went from 50 to 250
  • They developed a creative solution through the use of hang tags on displayed bicycles to work with local shops and get them easily engaged and excited to be a part of the movement. The program included and competition between the local shops.

Tim Fowler, Santa Fe Fat Tire Society (New Mexico)

  • The club was formed in response to a threat, mentoring and organization from IMBA helped them respond in time.
  • Same training paid off as NM governor was going to opt out of RTP funding.
  • Their quick response and partnerships with other trail users convinced NM to remain in the program.

The IMBA World Summit received generous title sponsorship from the Federal Highway Administration & the Bikes Belong Coalition.