The Future of Membership in the VCS

On 10th June 2010, Tessy Britton, Chair of the Royal Society for Arts Fellowship Council, Dave Boyle, CEO of Supporters Direct, and Charles Armstrong, Director and founder of One Click Orgs joined us to explore and deepen our understanding of what the future threats and opportunities are for civil society membership schemes.

NCVO Third Sector Foresight’s Katherine Hudson also presented on some of the findings from the one year Future of Membership project, and chaired on the day. She has already written up her impressions here, so if you’re interested in finding out more about what was covered, and would like to discuss the issues raised further, you can comment on her post.

This session was very popular, and attracted delegates from a broad range of membership organisations from national organisations such as Age UK, right through to smaller community groups such as Opera Holland Park Friends. Despite organisational differences, common themes emerged during discussion, including the difficulty of retaining members in an increasingly hostile economic climate, how to encourage an active membership, and the pros and cons of continuing to emphasise only tangible benefits to members.

Tessy “What we can make together?”

Tessy Britton gave us a great introduction to how the RSA’s Fellowship Council has been encouraged to have a more active and democratic role in decision making, and talked us through the process of moving towards a collaborative membership “ecosystem”. Take a look at her slides here, and scroll through to find some inspiring membership participation case studies.

Dave “All you need is love”

Dave Boyle talked us through the advantages of emphasising the non-tangible benefits of membership, such as a sense of belonging or privilege, and a stronger collective voice. Do you worry that offering your members tangible benefits will lead to being undercut by competition further down the line? Read through our drivers on this in Future Focus 8.

Charles “One click democracy”

Charles Armstrong introduced us to his new project One Click Orgs, an online platform designed to help new membership organisations create a legal and decision making structure quickly and painlessly. Addressing the growing need for larger organisations to connect with their members, Charles points us to how new technologies can help us make democratic decisions on a grand scale. You can see his slides here.

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Last updated at 17:16 Thu 17/Jun/10.

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