Engaging future generations

Former Surrey cricketer Matthew Spriegel, who was recently co-opted onto the Dons Trust Board with a brief to encourage membership among the 16–35 age group, looks at the task ahead.

I was delighted when the Dons Trust Board offered me a co-opted role on the board. The selection process consisted of an initial application letter, a phone interview and then finally a face-to-face interview. I know there were a number of very strong candidates who applied for the role, and I am in the process of getting in touch with some of them to see how I can get them involved.

On the back of last year’s dramatic promotion via the play-offs, the membership of the Dons Trust has now passed the 3,000 mark. From my experience of professional sport, people love to be associated with a successful team, and the team’s on-pitch success has certainly helped generate that growth in membership.

The reason why my role came about was that, despite membership numbers growing, there is still a real lack of members aged from 16 to 35. I strongly believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to attracting members in this age group because there are so many different factors involved. So, with help from you, I need to come up with ideas, events and strategies which will entice younger people to become a member of the Dons Trust.

When you become a member, you become a stakeholder in your football club. You get the opportunity to have your say and a chance to shape your football club the way you would like to. This is something that is unique to a fans-owned football club like AFC Wimbledon, and something that is, and should be, a major factor in becoming a member.

I have already had a couple of meetings with the Trust’s membership group about how we can improve the package and benefits of being a young member within the financial constraints we face, as I think this is important. However, the main and overriding benefit of joining is the fact that you can have your say on how the club is run.

I am now seeking feedback from existing Trust members in the 16–35 age group about your membership package and any changes or additions you would like to see. For any other supporters in that age group who are reading this and aren’t yet members, what is holding you back from joining the Trust? Are you not sure about what you get by becoming a member? Would you like to see more benefits for members?

If you have any thoughts, views or opinions on what you would like to see in your membership package, or on how we could attract new members, or if you would like to help me process the feedback, please email me on matthew.spriegel@thedonstrust.org.

In addition, if you are a Trust member you should be on the Trust’s Webjam by the end of September; a copy of this article will be posted there, and you’ll be able to respond. If you’re not a Trust member, you can leave your comments below. All feedback is valued, and I look forward to hearing from you.

If you are not yet a member and would like to join, either visit the Join the Trust page or visit the Dons Trust kiosk on Jack Goodchild Way on a matchday.

This article originally appeared in the matchday programme for the game against Sheffield United, played on Saturday, September 10, 2016.