The key to club planning for 2021 is going to be adaptability. The vaccine rollout will have hit the general population by May but likely will not cover the majority of the population until August. What does this mean for your club and recruiting? The odds are that the traditional early to late May Open Houses will be less effective or even impossible to hold since most of the population and your club membership may not be vaccinated. However, a large section of the population should be vaccinated by later June and you may want to take a look at holding membership events throughout the year and making them “vaccination only” for both participants and volunteers. We may also recruit late into the year as far as August to take advantage of additional people finally getting the vaccine and wanting to become active again.
There will be a huge pent up demand for physical activity during the summer and if we sell ourselves successfully as a safe sport, we can do very well.
You will want to do the following things.
1. Encourage your membership to receive the vaccination as soon as possible so that they can participate in club activities and assist as volunteers.
2. Keep lines of communication open with your membership - emails, online meetings, club newsletters. We can assist you with how to do this.
3. Money! This year and next year apply for as many grants as possible. The next up is the Participaction Community Better Challenge Grant. In the coming year, apply for New Horizons, Trillium, Ontario Seniors Community and Ontario Inclusive Community grants. We can help.
4. Encourage your members to join even if they cannot bowl right away. They can be involved later in the season. Based on the government's projections for vaccinations, clubs might start the season with 30% of their members vaccinated and have 60% by the end of June and 100% by the end of August. Be prepared to adapt.
Looking for money for that Open House in late June? Check out the Participaction Community Better Challenge Grant for up to $1000. Applications start January 25. Check out their webinar here:
Most greens keepers are beginning to think about spring, green grass and getting busy working on the greens. Maybe it’s not yet time to get on the greens, but you can get a lot done.
This is a good time to look back and reflect on what happened last season. Were you satisfied with your greens, or more importantly were the members satisfied with the greens? After all they are the ones paying the bills and the happier they are the better the club runs.
If you kept a daily diary of what was done on the greens last season you can always revisit it. See what worked for you and what didn’t.
I firmly believe that keeping a daily diary or log during the bowling season is a good way to keep track of what you have done to the greens during the bowling season if you didn’t keep one last year I suggest you get started on one.
It’s not difficult. On the top of the page you start by registering the temperature, was it sunny, cloudy raining and how much rain. Next come the mowing, if you have two greens which green was cut and which way east west or north south.
Then you can add when you verticut and which way so next time you verticut you will know to do it the opposite direction. When you fertilized what kind and how much. You cannot put too much in your log. If you keep track of everything you do on the greens it will really benefit you or if decide to resign it will be really helpful for whoever take over for you.
Now is also a good time to get your equipment serviced if you can do it yourself that’s good but if you have to send any of it away this is the time to do it before the golf courses send theirs for service. Come April and May the service shops get very busy so get your done now while they are not busy and while you wait for the warm weather to get here. When the good weather arrived you will be ready to go.
OLBA Greens Chairman
The Latest in the Canadian Bowler
Video Podcast Series
Bowls Canada National Team Video Interview Series
Meet some of our National Team Members
Jackie Foster, Pat Bird, Leanne Chinery and David-James Smith
Looking to Promote your Club Online?
Check out these two articles from BCB's Biased Bowls Blog
This is the first of a multi-part series that explains the importance of having a website for your club and how to develop one effectively. This first post provides an overview of what to keep in mind before creating your website.Part two provides more details on how to build your site once you’ve considered the information in part one.
Many clubs in Canada struggle to get new members each year, and get frustrated by the continual decline of membership numbers. Something you may want to consider, especially if you don’t have one already, is your website. In today’s day and age, a website is absolutely crucial for any organization, including your club.
With the advent of technology and the ever increasing reliability of internet capabilities, more and more people today are going to the internet to find information. According to Statista, over 4.5 billion people worldwide were actively using the internet as of April 1, 2020. Here in Canada, they estimate that 96% of Canadians were using the internet in 2019. Whether it’s from your phone, your tablet, or your laptop, almost everyone in Canada is online and has the ability to access more information than ever before.
So given that people are frequently accessing the internet, your website is very likely the first experience people today will have with your club. Before coming down to your club’s open house, maybe even before agreeing to consider it, some people will want to research your club to see what they’re getting into. If your club doesn’t have a website, that is an immediate turn-off for many people. In fact, 75% of people judge a company’s credibility based on the website design. If your club doesn’t even have a simple website, what does that say about the rest of your club?
For those clubs who don’t currently have a website, there are various different platforms you can use to create one, such as WordPress, Wix, Weebly, or GoDaddy to name a few. Whichever platform you choose, even if you already have a website, here are some things you should consider.
Free vs Paid
Most platforms offer “free” web creation, which means you can create your website for free. While this may be tempting for smaller clubs with smaller budgets, there are some significant drawbacks to going this route.
Free versions typically have limited access. Whether you can only create a specific number of pages, or upload a certain number of items (such as pictures), many free versions limit what you can do. Make sure you investigate what you can and can’t do with the free version before beginning.
Free versions typically don’t let you have your own domain name. Your domain name, that is, your web URL, is what people type into the web browser to get to your website. Many free versions force your URL to include the company name. For example, www.yourclub.wixsite.com or www.yourclub.weebly.com are examples of what your URL might end up being if you use the free version. Not only does this make it significantly more difficult to direct people to your website, it may also limit your website’s search-ability. This means that when someone Google’s your club, it may not appear at the top of the search.
TIP: Once you do have a website up and running, Google it to make sure you can find it. If it doesn’t come up on Google, people aren’t going to be able to find it. Do some research on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make your website stand out on Google and other search engines.
Before you begin developing your website, you should consider what sort of functionality you need from it. Will you be accepting payments for membership fees through your website? Will you be selling club clothing in an e-store? Will there be a way to register for tournaments or leagues? Will there be an e-newsletter that you want to send out? Will you be recording people’s information and storing it online? Will your website be mobile-friendly? All of these considerations should be made before you start to build your website, and will likely impact whether you go with a free or a paid version of a website builder.
In addition to functionality, you should think about what type of information you’ll want to post. Take a look at other bowls websites to get an idea, and jot down a list of what you’d like included. Identifying what you want included should be your first step, as it will dictate where it is shown on your website. For example, if you want to let your members know what your membership fees are this year, where are you going to put that information? Under a “Contact Us” page likely isn’t the best spot for it. Conversely, you might decide you don’t want to make that information public knowledge, in which case you wouldn’t need to develop a “Membership Fees” page. If you have a list of all of the information you want on your website BEFORE you begin building it, it will make building it significantly easier.
Once you have a list of the various items you want to include on your website, you should consider how often you will be able to update your website. How often you update your website is up to you, but the more often you do, the better. It’s important to set realistic expectations with how often you will be able to update your website before you finish creating it. For example, if you plan to update the website daily, then having pages for each individual club event would be a reasonably good idea to include. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to update your website more than once every couple of weeks, then it likely isn’t a good idea to have event-specific pages. There’s not much point in having a webpage for your annual fundraiser, with nothing on it, 2 weeks after the event has ended. In fact, an out-of-date webpage can actually drive people away; it shows that you don’t update your website frequently, and some people may start to think that your club isn’t worth going to because you don’t care enough to keep your website updated. Consider how much time you’ll be able to devote to your website before developing specific pages.
Once you do have a list of all the information you want on your website, your next step is to develop a way to navigate through it. Having all of your information on one webpage is overwhelming, so you will likely need to develop multiple pages so you don’t overwhelm your viewers. The most common method is by using a menu at the top of the webpage, but this is not the only approach. How you wish to navigate through all of your information is ultimately up to you, but keep in mind that regardless of what navigation style you choose, it should be intuitive and easy to get to all of your information. If the average Joe can’t figure out how to get to a webpage, then your navigation style needs to be revisited. Before making your website live, test your navigation style on other club members and see if they can find specific information.
Building Your Site
Many people do not have the expertise to build a website. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you should recognize whether you have the ability to make a well-designed website before you begin trying. It takes 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website, which ultimately determines whether they stay on your site or not. 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout are unattractive, and 89% will go to a competitor after a poor user experience. In other words, your website needs to be beautifully designed, sleek, and modern in order to keep people on your website.
For those who do not have the expertise, consider hiring a web designer to build it for you. This comes at a cost, but if you want a well-designed website, you’re going to need to pay for it. Typically, a web designer will charge a higher price up-front for the website creation, and then a much smaller fee on an on-going basis to update it. Some web designers will turn it over to you once it’s built, so you can have total control of it. If hiring a web designer is out of your price range, consider turning to your local colleges or high schools. Students who have a passion for graphic design or web creation will be eager for the experience to put on their resume, and your club can get a semi-professional looking website for a much more reasonable cost.
Your website is the first experience people will have with your club. How your website looks, how easy it is to navigate, and what information is available on it says a lot about your club, and is the first hurdle in getting new members. If you don’t have a website, your odds of attracting new members is substantially lower than clubs that have one. Simply having a website isn’t sufficient though; it needs to be modern, sleek, responsive, and attractive. Failing to have a beautifully designed website is just as likely to drive people away from your club as it is to attract them. If you’re looking to grow your club in 2021 and beyond, get yourself a quality website!
This is the second part of the multi-part series that explains the importance of having a website for your club and how to develop one effectively. In part one, we blogged about what you should consider before creating a website. Assuming you’ve read that post, and put some serious thought into your website, let’s talk about how to actually build your site.
Before diving in, let’s take a moment to point out the obvious: some technical skill will be required to setup your website. If you aren’t tech-savvy, consider hiring a professional to design (or update) your website for you; a poorly designed website may actually be worse than not having a website at all. Hiring a professional comes at a steep cost (several thousand dollars), but is likely worth the price tag if you want to attract new participants. If you don’t have the resources to pay a professional, or believe you are tech-savvy enough yourself, then let’s dive in to creating an actual website.
What’s in a name? A domain name is what you enter in your web browser to get to a website – for example, www.biasedbowls.ca is a domain name. The domain name you choose for your website should be short, sweet, and representative of your club. Ideally, your domain name should be easy for people to remember, and easy to find: www.bowlsclub.ca is much more ideal than www.greatertorontoarealawnbowlingclub.com. Some domain names might already be taken, so you may need to be creative with yours.
TIP: spend the money and purchase your own domain name. www.bowlsclub.ca is more professional sounding, and easier to remember, than the free version of www.bowlsclub.wixsite.com. Also, clubs in Canada are encouraged to use the Canadian extension, “.ca” for their domain name.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name (and made sure it is available), you’ll need to decide on a platform and a host. Here’s a quick summary of what that means:
Host – this is where your website actually lives (and in many cases, where you can buy the domain name). Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called “servers”. If someone wants to view your website, they get connected to the server that your website is hosted on. Hosting companies typically charge a few hundred dollars per year to “host” (or store) your website for you, and offer various services (such as security, custom email accounts, and support). There are numerous hosts available, such as BlueHost, GoDaddy, JustHost, Hostinger, and many, many more. Do some research and find out which ones are in Canada, how much they cost, what type of security they offer, and what kind of service they provide.
Platform – this is where you create your actual website. There are numerous options, such as WordPress, Wix, Weebly, etc. They vary in cost and functionality; however it is worth noting that 35% of the internet is powered by WordPress, and for good reason too. Be aware that there is a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org (we’d recommend .org, as it allows for greater flexibility, but to each their own).
To make it easier to understand, think of your website as a digital filing cabinet. The platform is what you use to create the filing cabinet (what is it made of? What colour? How many shelves? What’s in it?), and the host is where you store it (like a storage facility).
A few more notes on setting up your website…
Some companies will combine services (host and design your website all in one place). While this may sound convenient, this is actually a risky option. If the company is hacked, or shuts down abruptly, everything you have is gone with it. While it may seem unlikely, why take that risk? Having separate companies for your host and your platform offers a bit of a safety net – in order to lose everything, there would need to be two separate incidents with two separate companies.
Part of having a great website is ensuring that you show up in search engines. If someone wants to find your club online, they should be able to! When creating your website and registering your domain name make sure you go with the “HTTPS” version (note the “S” at the end). Why does this matter? It’s a more secure webpage, and boosts your chances of showing up in search engines. According to this article, 98% of Google’s first-page results have HTTPS URLs (as opposed to just HTTP). If you want to show up on the first page, boost your chances with HTTPS.
Back-ups, Back-ups, Back-ups!
Whatever host and platform company you choose, make sure you have frequent back-ups! A back-up is a copy of your website’s content. Ideally, your back-up should be on a different server – this way if your existing company’s server goes down, you’ll have a safe copy somewhere else. Not only that, but if your site is “hacked” or the server has a data failure, you can put it back to the way it was by using the last back-up. How frequent you back-up your content is largely dependent on how frequently you’ll be updating your website – if you update your website daily, you should likely back-up your site daily; if you don’t update your website frequently, you could likely get away with backing-up your data on a weekly or monthly basis. A reputable hosting company should include website backups as part of their services.
A poorly designed website, or “dated” or “cheap” looking site is likely going to do you more harm than good. According to numerous studies, it takes users 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to form an opinion about your site, which determines whether they leave or stay on your site. In other words, your website needs to be modern, colourful, and professional looking in order to keep users on your site. To see for yourself, which website would you rather spend time on? Option A or Option B?
Further to that, your website also needs to be mobile-friendly: over 50% of website traffic worldwide is from a mobile device, so make sure your mobile-users can access a quality website too! When it comes to your website, invest the necessary time and money into it to make it a quality product – the cheapest option (or least time-consuming option) isn’t doing you any favours.
As with everything, you get what you pay for. Here is a quick summary of what it could cost you to create a website:
Use a free version
Some computer skills needed
Buy your own domain, but still build the site yourself
Some computer skills needed
Pay a professional to build the site – once created, the club updates the site
$5,000+ (one time fee)
Fewer computer skills needed
Pay a professional to build the site – a professional updates it for you
$5,000+ (one time fee) plus on-going costs (likely $1,000+/year)
No computer skills needed
As mentioned earlier, a cheap or low-quality site may be driving potential members away. If you don’t think you can design a colourful, visually-appealing website, consider applying for grants to hire a professional to design the site for you. There are numerous federal, provincial, and possibly even local grants that you can take advantage of.
If grants aren’t an option, then consider students. There are numerous students in high school, college, and university who have a passion for graphic design or web creation, so consider hiring a student to creat (or update) your website for you.
Does all of this sound like technical mumbo-jumbo? For the less tech-savvy, creating a website can be incredibly difficult to do properly. If the prospect of creating your own website seems overwhelming, consider hiring a professional to do it for you. It may be costly up-front, but you’re doing your club a disservice by not having one (or by having a poorly designed one). If you want to gain new members, they’re out there surfing the web… give your club a fighting chance by having a beautiful website that prospective members WANT to spend time on!
Notice to Member Clubs on Fees
As we approach our upcoming season, the Ontario Lawn Bowls Association would like all clubs to be aware that the fees for 2021 will be $ 38.00 per member. ($19.50 OLBA - $18.50 BCB). All clubs will be billed according to updated 2020 membership numbers in mid-April or early May.
As we are not certain what the state of our country will be in at that time, we ask that all clubs submit membership payment for their actual registered members as of June 15th to the OLBA’s Elaine Stevenson.
Membership updates will be required every two weeks thereafter. While this seems to be an onerous task, our insurance is based on actual membership numbers and this can impact our premium immensely. Also, we must have those members registered in order to be covered by the insurance. Therefore, it will be very important to forward this information on a regular basis. (June 15th, June 30th, July 15th, July 31st) with the final submission on August 31st.
Should there be any questions regarding this matter please do not hesitate to contact John Fantin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by telephone at 519-436-7077.
Participaction Community Better Challenge Grant Guidelines
Overview The ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge is an annual event that gets Canadians across the country moving together. From June 1st to June 30th, 2021, we are calling on ALL Canadians to get active and incorporate physical activity where they live, learn, work and play As individuals or as part of an organization, we are asking Canadians to get active and track their physical activity minutes in an effort for their community to be recognized as one that champions active living. At the conclusion of the challenge, we’ll recognize and celebrate community achievements, crowning provincial / territorial winners and ultimately appointing one community with the designation of Canada’s Most Active Community! ParticipACTION has developed a micro-granting program that will support community organizations who are planning to host participatory in person or virtual activities or leverage physical activity-related programming during the challenge period. Micro-grants range from $250 to $1,000 and can support qualified instructors, equipment, rental cost, marketing and promotion and other costs that will make the activity even more impactful. Sample activities include try-it sessions, multi-sport or multi-activity programs, open-houses, school events, mayor’s hallenges, neighborhood fun runs as well as virtual events such as virtual runs or zoom classes (note: as safety is very important to us, all local public health protocols and recommendations must be followed). The ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge is supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada, Sport Canada and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Timing Grant applications will be accepted from 9:00 a.m. ET on Monday January 25th, 2021 to 5:00p.m. ET on Friday February 26th, 2021. There will be one grant cycle. All applicants will be informed of the funding decision by email approximately one month following the application deadline. One hundred per cent of the funds will be distributed in one payment, approximately two-to- three weeks following the decision.
Eligible Groups Applications may be submitted, individually or in partnership, by: • Community, not-for-profit organizations and associations that can offer physical activity or sport participation opportunities in their community, either through events or programs • Municipalities • Schools • First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities • National Sport Organizations, Multi-sport Organizations, provincial and local sport organizations • Organizations that can reach all segments of the Canadian population - i.e. LGBTQ2S+, youth, seniors, individuals with disabilities, visible minority groups, newcomers, groups representing rural areas, minority language communities, Indigenous, and low-income populations.
Eligibility Guidelines The following factors will be considered in choosing successful applications: • The activity must take place in Canada. • The activity must take place within the month of June, either in its entirety or in part.
For sake of clarity, the following examples ARE ELIGIBLE: o June 8 o June 8 to June 11 o May 25 to June 8 o June 8 to July 3 o May 1 to August 1 • The activity must be registered through the ParticipACTION website. • Organizations may apply for multiple grants if they are planning to conduct multiple events or promote different programs during the challenge timeframe. The maximum each organization can receive is $1,000 for all programs and events. • All recipients must track the physical activity that their grant supports during the challenge at www.participaction.com/challenge • All recipients must complete a post-event online survey within one month after the program or event ends. • Failure to track physical activity minutes and complete the survey will make the organization ineligible for future grant applications with ParticipACTION.
Application and Criteria Assessment Applications will be assessed according to the following criteria: • Demonstrate inclusive and equitable practices that maximize sport, recreation, and physical activity opportunities for everyone in the community. • Potential of the activity to inspire and encourage sport and physical activity participation within local public health guidelines and limits. Activities could be outdoor, physically distanced, multiple smaller programs or events, or virtual. • Financial need – what additional value could the funding provide to your event/program that otherwise would not be possible? • Events and programs are accessible to people of all abilities, at little or no cost. • Events and programs are strongly encouraged to use qualified instructors where appropriate (e.g., NCCP, First Aid, High Five, Physical Literacy 101 or other skill development program certification). • Ability of the event or program to connect individuals with the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge through marketing, promotion or onsite signage/handouts and encourage registration and tracking of their physical activity minutes by downloading the ParticipACTION App or on the ParticipACTION website • Consideration will be given to the geographic distribution of funds throughout the various regions of Canada and to programs or events that are inclusive of the diversity of Canada and accessible for people of all abilities.
Selection Committee • Eligible applications will be evaluated by a review panel consisting of ParticipACTION staff and partners from the physical activity, sport and recreation sector. The panel will base its recommendations on the eligibility and assessment criteria described in these guidelines, within the context of the applicant's organizational, community and regional needs.
Expenses • Expenses must be directly related to costs incurred for delivering a physical activity or sport participation experience or helping to make it accessible and inclusive.
Eligible expenses include: o Sporting equipment, o Coaching/trainer expenses o Venue/space rental etc. o Transportation o Nutrition o Costs associated with delivering a virtual activity o Cost the help activity meeting public health guidelines o Childcare for participants during an event o Any accommodations that may be required for full participation such as ASL, captioning, personal assistance etc. • The Community Better Challenge will not support events that do not have a physical activity or sport component. Examples of activities that would not be supported include public yearend team celebrations and private parties. • Other ineligible expenses include o Performance fees o Capital expenditures (renovation, construction, computer equipment) o Deficits incurred from past activities o Prizes or awards o Competitions or expenses incurred prior to funding support issue. Conditions and Limitations • The ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge must be acknowledged where possible on all materials related to the funded event. A digital toolkit including logos, guidelines, promotional materials and social media tools will be available on ParticipACTION’s website by mid-April 2021. • In order to apply for a grant, applicants will be required to register and track their program or event on ParticipACTION’s website and complete a post-program or event online survey. The survey should outline their use of the funds and the outcomes of their program or event and be completed within one month of the end date. A link to this survey will be e-mailed to the event organizer. By applying to the Community Better Challenge, ParticipACTION can publish the successful applicant’s organization name and final funding amount. By completing the application, you agree to the above conditions.
The OLBA is looking for a Chair of its Nominations Committee, we certainly feel that this position is an excellent opportunity for any of our members to learn the governance of not for profit organizations & associations.
The candidate will gain valuable experience in vetting applications, chairperson responsibilities. Good communication and familiarity with lawn bowls across the province of Ontario is definitely an asset for the position.
The committee is responsible for identifying potential individuals whom they approach to run for offices of the organization.
The committee is further responsible to conduct the elections in accordance with the by-laws of the OLBA. at the annual general meeting.
The incoming chair will have the assistance of the outgoing chairperson Ken Armstrong. Should you have any questions or confirm your interest regarding this position,
Comments and questions are welcome. (ellis@OLBA.ca)
Disclaimer:The information and articles provided in this email represent the opinions of the articles author and should not be considered as endorsed by or policy of the Ontario Lawn Bowls Association OR it's Directors.