The OSS is a not for profit that was founded in 2006, and all of the current directors - Kate Rew, Michael Worthington, Oli Pitt and Kari Furre – were involved at that time. Most of the work and richness of the society comes from individuals and agencies who donate time, creativity and expertise. We have grown organically by about 30% a year, perhaps reflecting the growth in popularity of outdoor swimming. The society now (January 2016) has 25,000 members and 18,000 Facebook users.
The OSS has always aimed to be more a loosely organised collective, a movement rather than a more hierarchical organisation as it reflects the free-spirited and slightly renegade nature of outdoor swimming - so we have retained a not for profit model rather than becoming a charity or developing a hierarchical structure would (in the words of Anna Morell, now the arts correspondent, previously the newsletter editor) be 'like putting chlorine in the water'. We have however avoided more formal structures (for example CIC) as these would prevent us campaigning for changes in the law around swimming*.
However, the work does have a cost, which needs to be covered. Funds are raised for the OSS by a single yearly event, the Dart10k, which functions as a kind of AGM for the OSS, where we come together in one place to do what we love. The Dart10k donates a percentage of its ticket price to the society, and other funds are raised by the sale of merchandise. This income covers the website fees and some salary for the director and some paid staff and projects.
We are always looking for volunteers to join the OSSTeam and help with the work we do to keep outdoor swimming wild and free, supporting all those keeping lidos open and lakes and rivers clean and accessible, and promoting outdoor swimming in all its forms. So if you are interested, we would love to have your contribution. Come along and jump in!