Thank you to the 136 members who responded to our GOC website design refresh & branding survey, to help us to grow our membership and become more inclusive and diverse. That's 8.3% of the 1,638 members emailed, a very encouraging response rate. Your responses are full of valuable feedback and practical suggestions, which will be used to inform the refreshed GOC branding and design and also a new strategic plan for the club.
Your responses may be viewed in full at Mentimeter (to navigate from one screen to the next, click on the left/right arrows at the bottom left) - and as summarised with the help of ChatGPT, below and in PDF . The bold & italic formatting is mine.
For more on the project see Introducing OUT loud, supporting GOC to refresh our branding and website design.
If you have any questions, and if you are you willing to help further by reviewing and offering feedback on a first draft of the new design, please email me at [email protected]. We can't promise that the new look will please everyone, any more than the website does at present, but we are keen to take into account as many diverse views as possible!
1. How would you describe the character of GOC as it is today?
The responses to the survey question "How would you describe the character of GOC as it is today?" vary widely in terms of opinions and descriptions. Some common themes and keywords emerge from the responses:
- Age-related: Several responses mention the older age demographic associated with the club, using terms like "older," "elderly," "middle-aged," and "aging."
- Friendly and welcoming: "Friendly," "welcoming," "supportive," and "inclusive" are frequently used to describe the character of the club, indicating a positive and inclusive atmosphere.
- Outdoors and walking focus: The club's emphasis on outdoor activities, particularly walking, is mentioned in responses such as "outdoor," "walking," and "ramblers."
- Traditional and established: Some responses characterize the club as "traditional," "established," and "enduring," suggesting a long-standing presence and adherence to certain values or practices.
- Diversity and inclusivity: While some responses emphasize inclusivity, others mention the club's focus on specific demographics like "gay-only" or "male-oriented." However, there are also mentions of the need to update and attract a younger generation.
- Aging and active aging: The club's association with aging and active aging is highlighted in responses like "active aging," "aging companionable," and "suitable for older people."
- Mixed opinions: There are varying opinions about the club, with some responses expressing satisfaction and enjoyment ("fun," "enjoyable") while others find it dated, dull, or in need of improvement.
Overall, the responses suggest that GOC is seen as a friendly and welcoming club with a focus on outdoor activities, primarily attracting an older demographic. While some respondents appreciate its traditional and established nature, there are also calls for updating and attracting younger members.
2. What is GOC best at - what do you value or care about the most?
The responses to the survey question regarding what the GOC (Gay Outdoor Club) is best at and what people value or care about the most can be summarized as follows:
- Inclusivity: The GOC is praised for providing an inclusive space for people of all ages and sexualities. It is seen as a friendly and welcoming community.
- Social Connection: Many respondents appreciate the GOC for bringing people together and providing opportunities for social interaction and companionship. It is seen as a way to meet like-minded individuals and make new friends.
- Organizing Walks and Activities: The GOC is highly regarded for its well-organized walks, hikes, and other outdoor activities. It offers a variety of events nationwide and provides information and support for participants.
- Safe Space: The GOC is seen as a safe and non-threatening environment where LGBTQ+ individuals can freely express themselves and meet others who share similar interests.
- Value for Money: The GOC is praised for offering affordable activities and events, allowing members to be social within the community without breaking the bank.
- Community and Friendship: The GOC is valued for fostering a sense of community and providing opportunities to build lasting friendships. It is seen as a place where people can find support and connect with like-minded individuals.
- Accessibility and Inclusivity for Older Individuals: The GOC is appreciated for being a space where older individuals can participate in outdoor activities and meet others in their age group. It is seen as a valuable alternative to youth-focused LGBTQ+ spaces.
- Non-Political and Non-Commercial Focus: The GOC is commended for its focus on providing social and outdoor activities rather than engaging in political or commercial endeavours. It is seen as a club run by its members for its members.
Overall, the GOC is highly regarded for its inclusive and friendly nature, its organization of walks and activities, its role in building social connections and friendships, and its provision of a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals. It is valued for its ability to bring people together, facilitate outdoor experiences, and create a sense of community among like-minded individuals.
3. What does GOC have that other clubs don't - what makes GOC relevant?
The responses to the survey question "What does GOC have that other clubs don't - what makes GOC relevant?" highlight several key points.
Firstly, GOC is seen as more inclusive and safe compared to other clubs like OutdoorLads, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community. Participants appreciate the sense of community and national connections offered by GOC, which sets it apart from other LGBTQ+ events that are often annual and expensive.
The club's focus on activities outside of gay nightlife is also highlighted as a distinguishing factor. GOC provides a common area of interest, such as walking, which allows for a cheaper and non-threatening way to meet others. The club's website is praised for being very good, enhancing the overall experience for members.
GOC is recognized as a safe space for individuals to be themselves and connect with like-minded LGBTQ+ people who share similar interests. The club's aim of walking and its wide age range appeal to participants, as well as the friendliness and less aggressive nature of the group compared to others like OutdoorLads.
Being the only gay club in certain areas and catering specifically to gay people further contributes to GOC's relevance. The club's emphasis on providing activities and a meeting place for older gay individuals is appreciated, as other organizations tend to focus more on young people and strenuous activities. GOC's national reach and friendly club atmosphere, rather than a corporate feel, are also mentioned as unique aspects.
Overall, GOC's relevance is attributed to its focus on the LGBTQ+ community, its affordability, wide range of activities, sense of inclusivity, and the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals in a safe and non-judgmental environment. The club's longevity, member-driven nature, and nationwide coverage further add to its significance.
4. What difference can GOC make, to you and to others?
Participants in the survey expressed various ways in which the Gay Outdoor Club (GOC) can make a difference to them and others.
One recurring theme was the need for more accessible and public transport-friendly activities, particularly in regions where the group is currently inaccessible without a car. Many respondents emphasized the importance of tackling isolation, both in rural areas and for individuals who are closeted, by offering activities in different locations and providing a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Several participants mentioned the positive impact of GOC in terms of mental health and well-being, emphasizing the opportunities for exercise, socializing, and making new friends. The club was seen as a place where like-minded people with shared interests can connect, form friendships, and overcome loneliness. Others highlighted the inclusivity and diversity of GOC, appreciating its ability to bring together individuals from different backgrounds and experiences.
Some respondents mentioned the personal development opportunities offered by the club, such as developing leadership skills, presentation skills, and gaining transferable skills through organizing walks and events. The GOC was also seen as a means of expanding social circles, meeting new people, and creating a sense of community.
While many respondents expressed overall satisfaction with the club, some suggested areas for improvement, including the need for more frequent events (dependent on volunteers), shorter walks for those with limited mobility, and greater visibility and contact with the wider LGBTQ+ community. The desire for more diversity within the membership was also mentioned, as well as the need for continued efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.
Overall, the survey responses highlighted the positive impact of the Gay Outdoor Club in providing opportunities for socializing, physical activity, personal growth, and a sense of belonging for LGBTQ+ individuals, while also identifying areas where the club can further enhance its offerings and accessibility.
5. If GOC didn't exist, what would be the alternative?"
The responses to the survey question "If GOC didn't exist, what would be the alternative?" indicate a variety of perspectives on potential alternatives to the GOC (Gay Outdoor Club). Here is a summary of the responses:
- Joining local general walking clubs: Some respondents attempted to join non-LGBTQ+ walking clubs but encountered issues such as racism and homophobia, leading them to give up.
- Ramblers Association: The Ramblers Association was mentioned as a possible alternative, although some respondents felt that it may not be as safe and inclusive for LGBT+ individuals.
- Outdoor Lads: Outdoor Lads was suggested as an alternative, specifically catering to gay men and offering outdoor activities.
- Meetup groups: Several respondents mentioned using Meetup to find other walking or outdoor activity groups in their area.
- Other local walking clubs: Many respondents suggested joining local walking clubs or forming smaller independent walking groups.
- Walking alone or with friends: Some respondents mentioned walking alone or organizing events directly with their own friends.
- Online platforms: Dating apps and online platforms like Facebook were mentioned as alternatives for meeting and organizing walks.
- No satisfactory alternative: A significant number of respondents stated that they were not aware of any satisfactory alternatives to the GOC and would either walk less or feel isolated without it.
- Lack of alternatives in rural areas: Some respondents expressed difficulty finding alternatives in rural areas and highlighted the limited availability of LGBTQ+ walking groups outside of larger cities.
Overall, the responses reflected a mix of suggestions, including existing organizations like the Ramblers Association and Outdoor Lads, as well as the idea of joining or forming local walking groups. Many respondents expressed concerns about finding a similarly inclusive and supportive community without the GOC.
6. What can GOC do better to keep existing members, and keep them active in the club?
The responses to the survey question on improving the Gay Outdoor Club (GOC) to retain existing members and keep them active in the club can be summarized as follows:
- Increase Frequency and Variety of Events: Many members suggested having more frequent events and walks, with a mix of different lengths and difficulties. They also expressed a desire for new subgroups focused on specific interests such as garden visits and history.
- Encourage Diversity and Attract Younger Members: Members emphasized the need to promote diversity and attract younger participants through targeted marketing and branding. They suggested organizing events directed at younger and more diverse groups to create a welcoming and inclusive environment.
- Improve Communication and Accessibility: Several members mentioned the importance of better communication about planned and past activities. They suggested utilizing social media platforms and advertising events to improve engagement. Additionally, members highlighted the need for easily accessible events that can be reached using public transport.
- Support and Empower Group Coordinators: Members recommended providing training opportunities for group leaders, mentorship programs, and tools for planning and organizing walks. They also emphasized the importance of having coordinators who are welcoming, friendly, and inclusive.
- Retain Core Membership and Maintain Purpose: Some members suggested focusing on core membership and ensuring that the club remains true to its purpose. They emphasized the importance of maintaining regular activities, providing a full program of events, and celebrating the club's identity.
- Improve Website Functionality and Online Presence: Members recommended improving the functionality of the club's website, making it more interactive with forums and a means of sharing photos after walks. They also suggested exploring the use of a phone app to facilitate regular contact between members.
- Address Aging Profile and Accessibility: With an aging membership, members highlighted the need for shorter walks and activities suitable for those with mobility limitations. They also mentioned the importance of providing events in different geographic areas to reduce travel costs and increase participation.
Overall, the suggestions focused on increasing the frequency and variety of events, promoting diversity and attracting younger members, improving communication and accessibility, supporting group coordinators, and addressing the needs of an aging membership. Additionally, members recommended improving the website, retaining core membership, and ensuring an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.
7. What can GOC do better to attract new members, particularly younger people, women and LBTQI+ people?
The responses to the survey question suggest several areas where the GOC (Gay Outdoor Club) can improve to attract new members, particularly younger people, women, and LGBTQI+ individuals. These suggestions include:
- Increase Car-Free Activities: Offer more activities that do not require private transportation to make them more accessible to younger people and those without cars.
- Presence at Pride Events: Attend and have a presence at local and regional Pride events to reach out to the LGBTQI+ community.
- Engage with Universities and LGBTQ+ Societies: Establish connections with local universities and LGBTQ+ societies to engage with younger individuals and promote GOC activities.
- Accessibility for Autistic Individuals: Make the club more accessible to LGBTQ+ autistic individuals who are more likely to have minority gender or sexuality. Consider their specific needs when organizing events.
- Rebranding and Website Improvement: Some respondents suggested changing the branding and improving the functionality of the website to make it more appealing and up-to-date.
- Social Media Presence: Increase the club's presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and newer platforms to reach a wider audience and allow for easy sharing of information by existing members.
- Diverse Representation: Show more diverse pictures on the website and in advertising materials to reflect the diversity of the potential members.
- Target Publicity towards Older Individuals: Concentrate publicity on individuals in their 40s who might be more open to joining the club as they may no longer be involved in other sports or activities.
- Advertisement in LGBT+ Press and Social Media: Improve marketing efforts by targeting the LGBT+ press and utilizing social media platforms for advertising.
- Provide Non-Walking Activities: Offer events and activities other than walks to cater to a wider range of interests and preferences.
- Collaborate with Other Groups: Collaborate with women's groups, young people's groups, and other LGBTQ+ organizations for joint events and activities.
- Create Safe and Inclusive Spaces: Ensure that all members feel valued and included by creating a safe and friendly environment. Provide opportunities for women, non-binary, and trans individuals to have a voice and presence in the club.
- Improved Public Transportation Access: Organize events in urban areas with good public transportation access to make it easier for younger people and city-based individuals to participate.
- Make Advertising Inclusive and Visible: Use inclusive language and imagery in advertising materials, increase visibility in appropriate media, and utilize different platforms and mediums to attract a wider membership.
- Offer Reduced Membership Fees: Consider offering reduced first-year membership fees or incentives to attract younger individuals.
It is important to note that not all suggestions are aligned, and there may be conflicting opinions regarding the target audience and strategies for attracting new members. The GOC should carefully consider these suggestions and tailor their approach based on their goals and the needs of the community they aim to serve.
8. What else should GOC start doing - or do more or better or differently?
Survey respondents provided a wide range of suggestions for what the GOC (Gay Outdoor Club) should start doing, do more or better, or do differently. Here are the key themes that emerged:
1. Increase Variety and Accessibility:
- Offer national trails and long-distance walking/camping events to attract participants from different locations.
- Encourage more people to lead events and offer a wider range of activities beyond walking, such as garden visits, historic town visits, racquet sports, and social events like quiz nights and sports days.
- Organize shorter walks and activities for those unable to participate in longer walks, including visits to castles, National Trust properties, and other social activities.
2. Improve Communication and Technology:
- Provide more efficient communication methods, such as text or email notifications when new events are posted to reduce the need for constant website checking.
- Develop a phone app with event details to attract a younger audience and facilitate access to information.
- Utilize targeted social media advertising to reach new audiences and attract diverse participants.
- Improve the quality of emails and explore a better platform for communication.
- Enhance the GOC website by allowing hyperlinks in members-only sections, including a separate field for directions, and implementing attendance monitoring for objective assessment of event success.
3. Outreach and Promotion:
- Increase visibility and promotion of GOC through stalls at local events, banners at Pride events, and wider advertising in women's groups, LGBTQ+ communities, and other diverse audiences.
- Show more diversity in publicity shots to appeal to a broader range of people.
- Collaborate with other groups, such as women's, BME, disability, and LGBTQ+ organizations, and hold joint events to foster inclusivity and expand the GOC's reach.
- Raise the profile of GOC within the LGBTQ+ community and promote its core values.
4. Volunteer Support and Recognition:
- Make it easier for members to lead walks and events, potentially through training and support programs.
- Recognize and thank walk leaders and group coordinators who contribute significantly to the club.
- Reward and support group coordinators with meaningful incentives and benefits.
- Recruit and train more volunteers to increase the club's effectiveness and expand its activities.
5. Enhance Member Experience:
- Provide additional support and resources for members, including mental health resources on the website.
- Offer inexpensive gear for purchase during walks to provide convenience and generate impulse sales.
- Explore opportunities for social and interpersonal support-focused groups and activities.
- Create signposting to gay-friendly services and professionals for members' benefit.
While there were some divergent opinions and requests for maintaining certain aspects, the overall sentiment reflected a desire for increased diversity, accessibility, effective communication, and outreach efforts to attract new members while supporting and recognizing existing ones.
9. How would you describe the character of GOC as it should be?"
The survey responses regarding the character of GOC as it should be can be summarized as follows:
The majority of respondents expressed a desire for GOC to be welcoming, inclusive, and friendly. They emphasized the importance of creating a truly inclusive and intersectional environment that is open to people of all backgrounds and identities.
Many respondents mentioned the need for a varied and dynamic club that engages its members through enjoyable activities and outdoor adventures.
There was a strong emphasis on promoting diversity and visibility within the club, with suggestions to attract more lesbians, younger individuals, and people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Some respondents also highlighted the importance of addressing specific needs and interests, such as focusing on outdoor activities and campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights.
Safety, reliability, and supportiveness were frequently mentioned as important qualities for GOC. The club was seen as a place where members can feel safe, supported, and empowered.
Respondents also expressed a desire for GOC to be accessible and well-organized.
While there were a few comments indicating satisfaction with the club's current character, the overall sentiment was that GOC should strive to become more inclusive, modern, and vibrant. Suggestions were made to improve advertising efforts, update the web design, and appeal to younger generations.
In summary, the ideal character of GOC, as described by survey respondents, is a welcoming, inclusive, and diverse club that offers enjoyable outdoor activities, supports its members, and promotes visibility and empowerment within the LGBTQ+ community.