NVHC Transitioning to Meetup

On January 1, 2015, the Northern Virginia Hiking Club (NVHC) plans to move all its administrative operations to Meetup, a popular social networking portal. NVHC has a significant presence on Meetup already with about 2,100 followers, and a subset of our Club’s hikes are being posted there. Starting in January, all NVHC events will be posted on Meetup, and the schedule will no longer be posted on the www.nvhc.com website. Hikes will be posted on Meetup on a rolling basis by the hike leaders and no longer on a quarterly basis. Membership dues will be collected on Meetup and the Membership Signup link on the www.nvhc.com site will no longer exist.

Why Change

Over the past 20 years, dedicated and highly skilled Club officers, Ed Brimberg and Mike Gingerich in particular, have developed and deployed many custom technology tools to manage the website, publish the schedule on various outlets, maintain the membership roster, and run the online system for automated dues collection. Finding willing replacements for these officers in the future would be extremely difficult given the time and advanced technical skills needed to maintain current operations. Meetup, on the other hand, offers tools to manage the Club.

Meetup has added significantly to the richness and variety of the Club’s membership. Also, Meetup offers many features consistent with the modern social media trends. For instance, on Meetup you can ask questions of leaders and other members. You can ask for rides to the meeting spots. You can notify leaders and others if you are running a few minutes late for a hike. You can post pictures of your hikes for the benefit of other hikers. You can provide your feedback online to help enhance the quality of hikes. Hike leaders can communicate directly with hike participants.

What the Move Means to Members

Many present practices and traditions of the Club will continue on Meetup. The same rich variety of hikes will be offered to members. All hike leaders will have a presence on Meetup and will post their hikes on the NVHC Meetup site.

At the same time, there will also be some changes. As we said, the schedule will no longer be posted on the www.nvhc.com site, and will be posted instead on the NVHC Meetup site at www.Meetup.com/NVHC-Hiking. Dues of $5 per year will be required for Meetup membership starting January 1, 2015. Membership will not expire at the end of the calendar year, but a year from payment of dues. The family membership will no longer be part of the structure; every hiker will need to be a member to take advantage of the benefits of membership. Non-members (or guests) will still be allowed to view most events on Meetup and are welcome on hikes. Guest fees will be eliminated, and guests will be encouraged to join and become members.

If you are a current paid NVHC member, but not a Meetup member, you are encouraged to join  Meetup by going to  www.Meetup.com/NVHC-Hiking. Familiarize yourself with viewing the calendar of events and then responding by “RSVP” to the Club hikes posted there. Starting January 1, 2015, your $5 payment for NVHC membership will be paid through Meetup.

If you are already following NVHC on Meetup, you will see the number of hike offerings increase significantly; this has already started happening. However, to have the full NVHC Meetup experience, you will have to start paying dues starting in January.

If you are currently a paid member of NVHC and have also joined NVHC on Meetup, you would renew your membership for the next year on Meetup after January 1, 2015, and go to Meetup to view upcoming events and other announcements.

In Conclusion

NVHC is a vibrant club that has been serving the Washington DC Metro area for almost a quarter of a century. The NVHC association with Meetup has been very fruitful so far; the number and variety of its members has grown much as a result. The coming change will put the Club in a strong position to be able to serve the hiking community for years to come. Your support is key during this transition. Thank you.

Special Request to Current Paid Members on Voting to Change the Club Constitution & By-laws

The Club Constitution & By-laws were created when the Club was formed  almost 25 years ago. The Executive Committee is amending  these documents to reflect the way the Club is operating now and will operate in the future. You will receive an e-mail over the next couple of weeks with the proposed Constitution & By-laws and a link to a web page requesting your vote. Please read the proposed Constitution & By-laws and vote yes or no on each - a membership approval is required for the amendments. Thank you in advance.

Some Anticipated Questions

Q: When can I join Meetup?

A: You can join for free now. You will need to pay the dues on Meetup after January 1, 2015.

Q: How do I join NVHC on Meetup?

A: Go to www.Meetup.com/NVHC-Hiking and click on the “Join us” button.

Q: How can I view the Club hiking schedule on Meetup?

A: After January 1, 2015, you can view the full schedule by going to the Meetup site at www.Meetup.com/NVHC-Hiking. You can also get a calendar view of the schedule on Meetup by clicking the link on the left panel. You can change your profile setting on Meetup so that Meetup sends you an email when new hikes are scheduled.

Q: Must I be a paid Club member on Meetup to view the schedule on Meetup?

A: No. Anyone can view the Club schedule.

Q: Must I be a paid Club member to participate in a hike?

A: No, but you are encouraged to join if you like the Club. Guests are  welcome as before, except on those events set aside for members only.

Q: If I am not an NVHC member, can I pay a $2 guest fee and go on a hike?

A: There will no longer be a $2 guest fee. Guests can go on hikes for free. Guests will be encouraged to become Club members.

Q: Must I RSVP on Meetup to go on a hike?

A: No, however, as a courtesy to the hike leader and other hikers, you are encouraged to become a member, RSVP “Yes” when planning to go, and change RSVP to “No” if you change your mind, so that others can go in your place. You do not have to RSVP “No” if you have no plans to go.

Q: Can I show up on a hike, pay $5 dues to the leader, and join the Club like before?

A: No. Membership is maintained by Meetup and everyone is required to pay their dues on Meetup to join in order to keep things simple.

Q: What about family membership?

A: Meetup does not offer that flexibility and, accordingly, the Club can no longer support that feature.

Q: Will all memberships expire on December 31 of each year on Meetup?

A: No. Memberships on Meetup are valid for one year after the date of your payment of the dues.

Q: I am already an NVHC follower on Meetup. Do I need to re-join?

A: No, but you will have to pay dues to continue your membership after January 1, 2015. You will have 30 days to make your payment. During that grace period, you will still enjoy all privileges of membership.

Q: Can I pay my yearly dues now on Meetup?

A: No. The feature will be enabled on January 1, 2015. Until that time, you can join Meetup and enjoy free membership.

Q: What if I have already paid my dues to NVHC in 2014?

A: All current memberships will expire, as before, on December 31. New membership sign-up will begin on January 1, 2015 on Meetup.

Q: Is the Meetup method of payment safe and secure?

A: There is always a risk with any online transaction.

Q. Will I be prevented from attending a hike because Meetup has a limit on attendees?

A. In Meetup, leaders decide if there will be a limit and what the limit will be. Leaders are encouraged not to put a limit on the number of attendees on a hike. There are some cases where a limit on a hike may make sense.