DVO club development officer update

Last year we awarded DVO a grant to support a club development officer, and Chris Millard was appointed. Read on for Chris's report...

It has been nearly a year since I started as Club Development Officer and much has changed in that time. Looking back, many of our original ideas have developed and matured, and I would like to think this has been for the better. This has been a collaborative process and the DVO committee and club members have all been amazing in contributing ideas and showing support by being physically present.

From the very start of the year, we decided to try a different approach to attracting new members. After a brief flirtation with Find Your Way where we mostly attracted existing East Midlands runners and no potential new members, and a summer series of local events which also failed to change the dynamic of the club, we tried MapRun. Our objectives were to deliver a map-based navigation and fitness challenge for running clubs around the area as well as providing for our existing club members. Many of the running clubs around Derby organise and take part in road and fell races and we hoped to convince them that the missing element was navigation. We hoped that by getting fit people to use their brains as well as their legs, we could persuade them that orienteering was fun.

We were unsure how successful MapRun was going to be, but the two series (18 events in total) have gathered far more interest than we could ever have imagined – we have had an average of 48 competitors per event. The MapRuns have developed into a sort of club night due to the mass start and finish format and the post-run socials have brought newcomers and club members together. They have also led to a stream of newcomers becoming members of DVO and stimulated interest in our more traditional orienteering events.

Our next conversations need to address how to keep the MapRun events affordable into next year, as these events (originally allowed to be registered as activities) are now attracting a BOF levy of £2.50 for each adult running. This was unexpected when we started the first series, which we ran for free, so that we wouldn’t have up to a hundred runners standing in the cold trying to pay and wondering why they didn’t just run with their clubs.

MapRun series effort from CDO

We recognised as soon as we started to make the score event MapRuns more complex (we introduced route choice and some detailed map reading and contours) that we needed to introduce runners to some more technical skills. MapActive is the ‘branding’ that NOC has given to a CLOK initiative (Couch to Green), which Hilary Palmer has generously allowed us to use when developing our own series. It was barely conceived when we started MapRun but this will be our club development focus for May and June. We are keen to get MapActive right by attracting those people who have a real interest in staying with orienteering.

MapActive programme

Other activities

We also need to decide how to progress. We are now working with British Orienteering to explore methods of raising levy income without penalising those clubs who wish to promote the sport actively, encouraging new members, and don’t always have the funding from regional events to make this possible under the current levy system. Our initial conversations with British Orienteering met with a lot of pushback but a channel of communication has now opened up and we are hoping we can help to make a difference, not just for us but for small clubs and orienteering in general.

The next year will be one either of consolidation of the model we have developed in 2023/4 or we will have to rethink. The outcome of the levy conversation will sway this. We have been inspired by other clubs who have had CDOs, particularly SBOC, who also have a funding challenge as they are too remote to attract other clubs to their regional (and profitable) events.

We would like to express our thanks to the Orienteering Foundation for all that it does in promoting and supporting orienteering. Thank you for enabling our outreach work and supporting our club development activities.

Last updated: Fri 10 May 2024