Upcoming report: Membership and the Charity Sector

Hand passing a card to another hand

Upcoming report: Membership and the Charity Sector

This week we're offering a first look at our latest free report. Available for download below, we analyse the latest trends in membership figures and preferences, as well as making recommendations for the future.

Membership has long been a staple of organisations, clubs, and interest groups. But in the digital age, the concept of membership has been pushed to new frontiers. Now, it has expanded to include global online communities, subscription-based services, and access to perks for those who patron businesses and organisations. This digital membership revolution has decidedly changed how we think about communities and organisations, but is just one part of a bigger picture. Social trends, generational shifts, and the pandemic have all had an impact on membership, affecting public behaviours in sometimes unpredictable ways.

For many charities membership is a vital source of income, and a key engagement tool with their audiences. In the wake of the damage done to supporter databases by GDPR, many charities also considered whether membership was the right option for them to forge closer ties with supporters. This is why we at nfpResearch are taking a deep dive into the trends being seen in this field. Our new report, Membership and the Charity Sector, seeks to share our insights about the past, present, and future of membership, using data we’ve gathered working directly with charities and the general public. This free report offers an up-to-date exploration of the benefits and challenges of membership in the digital world, and how organisations can effectively implement and manage a membership programme. Using case studies from the charity sector and beyond, we’re providing recommendations for your organisation that could take your membership experience to the next level. 

Current trends are promising. It’s easier than ever before for the public to connect with like-minded communities, network within their industry, or show support to the same causes – it can be as simple as creating an online profile. This low barrier to entry has done wonders in the commercial sector; businesses can gain precious data on individual spending habits and buyer trends, and offer discounts and exclusive content in return. This is why we’ve seen growth in the use of membership schemes within these sectors, with streaming services, social media, and retail. But more traditional membership groups have also had renewed interest in recent years, with political groups’ and trade unions’ numbers rising steadily after a long period of decline.

In order to achieve a thorough and informative perspective of the not-for-profit sector, we’ve analysed 25 of the biggest charity membership schemes, allowing us to explore how their diverse approaches can reveal shared challenges and approaches that have allowed them to flourish. Our data in this area has been positive, with paid membership figures showing resilience through the effects of the pandemic. This period has been identified as a major contributor to changing membership numbers, causing many groups to reassess their membership priorities and strategies. 

This week we’re releasing the first chapter, free for download below. In it, you’ll find our breakdown of the different categories of membership organisations and in-depth analysis of how they’ve fared over the past decade of upsets and opportunities. Click download to read Defining and categorising membership organisations, and be sure to stay tuned for the full report later this month. 

To learn more about charity membership, or for any other queries, please contact Timothy.Harrison-Byrne@nfpresearch.com .

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