Behind the Scenes: FORAS membership
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Each issue of City Edition features an in-depth look behind the scenes at some aspect of Cork City FC. Here we take a look at the effort behind the FORAS membership.
Cork City FC has been powered by Friends of the Rebel Army Society (FORAS) since 2010, and it’s safe to say the club has thrived in the 10 seasons since. At the beginning of this week, 582 people were registered shareholders, paying in €120/€60 annually (€10/€5 a month). In return, they get to participate within their football club in the most important way – as owners.
Becoming a FORAS member is a two-step process: complete and return an application form and make a payment. Forms are found online here, at the Club Shop in Douglas Village Shopping Centre and at the FORAS desk (led by Joe Cotter) inside the Curragh Road turnstiles on match nights. Payments can be made online or in-person, while new and returning members are welcome at the AGM and any FORAS meetings held throughout the year.
Once a person is signed up, their details are entered in the membership database and are sent to Éanna Buckley (Operations Manager) and Pat Healy. Éanna prints off a unique membership card, while Pat puts together and posts out a welcome pack that includes the card, a share certificate, welcome letter, and pin badge. To celebrate the club’s double-winning season, existing members were presented with a once-off commemorative medal.
While new members are welcome at any time, the bulk of work is done for existing members. The membership database is updated every morning – former board member Darren O’Keeffe taking a few minutes to check payments that have come through Clubforce (previously MyClubFinances) or directly into the trust’s bank account, and updating records accordingly.
“We are building a bespoke CRM (customer relationship management) system thanks to the expertise of Declan Carey, which we hope will improve things even further. The new database will store all the data we have and integrate with tools like MailChimp, which is used to send out our membership newsletters on a regular basis.
“The FORAS signup page has documentation that explains how to set up new payments and update credit/debit card details if needed. The feedback has been positive as we understand that not everyone considers themselves to be tech-savvy. The most important thing is that members read emails they receive from Clubforce, as they include renewal reminders and alerts for payment issues. We also get notifications about payments and issues members are having on our side.”
The country went through a difficult number of years financially so discretion around fees was and is used by the membership team when needed. However, members who have not paid fees in a significant period of time will be issued with a cheque for €1.27 (the value of £1 punt) if they have not formally cancelled their membership.
Having a vote and input into trust activities is the key reason to join FORAS; however, a range of benefits (including discounts for a variety of businesses) are available, while board member Damien Sreenan has taken over responsibility for the regular members draw, which sees a member randomly selected for a prize each month. Young supporters can join the Corky Club initially and then become full members of FORAS from the age of 16.
So, what surprises people the most about the FORAS membership?
According to Darren: “The diversity of our membership base. We have city folk, country folk and people, literally, all over the world including Switzerland, Scotland, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Canada, Belgium, USA and the UK.