Supporting 26

It was 15 years ago when seven of us started talking about setting up a writers’ organisation. Tim Rich had the inspired idea to call it 26 – the number of letters in the alphabet. Oh, it amused us to name a writers’ group with a number. It amused us even more to decide we should ask for £26 as a membership fee.

That’s the way it stayed. 26 grew and thrived. We discovered there was the need for an organisation that linked writers together and gave us more of a voice in the world of the creative industries. We’ve done some amazing things to champion the cause of writing and writers. We’ve stuck to our purpose: to inspire a love of words in business and in life. Umpteen projects and events have flowed, involving writers socially and creatively, nationally and internationally. We’ve punched above our weight, grown to some 300 members, and through projects have involved an extraordinarily high proportion of our membership in our activities.

Now we need to change a little. The £26 annual fee is not as good a joke as it used to be. In fact, we need to bring in more money to enable us to run projects, events, awards, newsletter, website – things that members now expect and that we do to a high quality, especially given our lack of resources. But we’ve been living hand to mouth. So we’ve had to come to the decision to raise our membership fee from the jokey £26 to the slightly more serious £40 – effectively an extra £1 for every year of price restraint.

That’s been difficult but necessary. The reality is that we have no other source of income apart from membership fees and the occasional philanthropic donation (more always welcome). So to continue providing a service for our members, perhaps even to do more and better, we need to look to members to pay a little more.

As your membership comes up for renewal, you will be asked to renew at the new rate. It’s worth stating the benefits:

Being a 26 member – the benefits

  • Free entry to many 26 events or a members-only discount
  • Discounted rates for writer training through 26 Trade Secrets
  • Our much-loved, carefully curated monthly newsletter
  • The chance to participate in our writing, book and exhibitions projects
  • Your own member profile page on the 26 website (can lead to work)
  • The wisdom of the 26 forum (ask the community your questions on day rates, accountants, client management)
  • The chance to create and run your own 26 projects (ask us how)
  • Access to the Free Word Centre (Wi-Fi, cafe, hall, meeting area, reduced rate on meeting rooms, central London location)
  • Being part of a like-minded community that supports your creative and professional development.

You will get all that for about £3.30 a month – not much more than the price of a cup of coffee. We hope everyone will renew – and that the generous ones will go further. As a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation we rely on money from members and we also rely on the time and efforts of members. If you can give more of any of those valuable contributions, we thank you even more. Please step forward.

Here are just some of the 26 projects we’ve run in the last year or two. It seems almost miraculous that we’ve managed to do all this. Please help us keep the miracles coming.

  • 26 Memory Maps with the Bloomsbury Festival
  • 26 Prints with Eames Fine Art
  • Wordstock Deconstructed events 2017 – In conversation with screenwriter Rob Williams, The Other Box and friends event, A day of Wordography
  • 26 Writing awards
  • 26 Writers in Residence
  • 26 Twits
  • 26 Lies
  • 26 Steps
  • 26 Postcodes
  • 26 Children’s Winters with the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood
  • 26 Pairs of Eyes with The Foundling Museum
  • 26 Under a Northern Sky
  • 26 Designs with the London Design Festival
  • Wordstock 2015 and 2016

By John Simmons

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