Mountain Bikers Unite: Local Society Affiliates with National Association
Why did a local, volunteer-run mountain biking association decide to join a national organization as an official chapter? It’s all about the members—and time for biking.
As mountain biking enthusiasts, the volunteer board of the Summit Fat Tire Society would rather be out riding or restoring bike trails than doing the administrative work behind an association—which is why the group became an official chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) last month.
“It’s an all-volunteer organization—we all have other jobs and a lot of stuff going on, so our resources are best used doing events and doing trail days,” said Kristofer Carlsted, SFTS president. “We better serve the membership by getting out and doing stuff, and that’s some of the feedback we’ve had from our members in the past couple of years.”
The decision to become an official chapter of IMBA was years in the making, and it was a natural fit, Carlsted added. “We discussed it at our annual meetings and got a lot of good feedback, and it seemed like a no-brainer for the members who are on the board as well as the other members.”
Both associations work to promote the mountain biking experience through advocacy and by preserving and building trails. IMBA currently has about 35,000 individual members and more than 750 chapters and clubs.
Under the new affiliation, the roughly 150 members of SFTS will pay slightly higher dues when it comes time to renew their memberships, but they will also receive joint membership in IMBA.
On the administrative side, SFTS will be able to tap into IMBA’s nonprofit expertise and resources, such as its membership database as well as communications and customer service support to maintain and recruit more members.
“The larger the membership base we have, the louder our voice, the stronger financially we’ll be as a nonprofit organization, and it will allow us to put more resources back into the community,” Carlsted said. “A win-win for everybody.”