Key issues from conference
Megan Griffith's presentation at the recent NCVO conference on membership schemes aimed to spark some discussion among those at our workshop - and we weren't disappointed. Here's some of the key issues reported back from group discussion, transcribed from the flip charts by Simon Berry. The groups were asked to consider:
- What do you think are some of the major challenges and opportunities facing membership organisations in the 21st century?
- What might your membership scheme look like in 5 years time?
Simon has grouped the responses:
- Different people mean different things by membership: subscribers (to services); supporters; LEGAL members
- "Membership is still growing but slowing down"
- Access to information no longer a valued service (1st item mentioned in both workshops)
- There needs to be more sophisticated use of information
- Membership organisations as sources of trusted, filtered information.
- What does trusted information look like? Does it come from the centre or from the network?
- Aligning membership with mission and purpose . . . are we about restricting access to information?
- What's your role? Lobbying? Source of expertise? Providing [membership] services? Advocacy?
- Being clear. Is membership an income stream or is it a cost?
- Members taking to each other (the network vs the hub and spoke model) - branding issues, danger of others doing things in the organisation's name
- Information is not enough, 'belonging' is not enough. It's about networking - need to know more about members to enable this (RSA Networks allowing members to 'tag' themselves according to interests)
- Need to communicate using old and new media - high costs
- Technology is changing so quickly it is expensive to keep up
- Members have more complex needs
- Members have multiple networking opportunities (not just your offer)
- Aging population - support, delivery media and access implications
- Expertise not information
- More tailored information to different classes of membership - members are expecting this
- Creation of platforms to give people a voice
- It's not just about membership fees it's about the whole relationship. Legacies, ad hoc donations, etc can be just as important
- Members as lobbyists/activists/advocates - the more members the better!
- Members taking to each other (the network vs the hub and spoke model) - the knowledge is in the network - online and offline, peer to peer mentoring/support
- Collaboration. Use another organisation's network rather than try to establish one yourself
- Don't assume that age is a barrier to use of ICT (eg NFU, SMS messaging to farmers)
- Collaboration and networking opportunities between membership organisations
- Movement should be away from commoditisation (free gifts etc). We need to focus on values.
- Restricted 'Who's who'. Enable, opt-in, peer to peer interaction
- Multiple memberships held by individuals could be matched by membership organisations linking up better