Key ideas and Guide

Underpinning the products, services, research and toolkits that may emerge from this project is an understanding of how membership is changing and what is driving these shifts.  Drivers are trends or forces in the operating environment that may have a positive or negative impact on the future.

This page is a place to start collecting these drivers, and other ideas about how membership is changing. The drivers could form the structure for an introductory guide to the future of membership proposed by Megan Griffith.

 Drivers shaping the future of membership 

  • Ease of making connections and coming together online - what Clay Shirky calls 'ridiculously easy group forming'!
  • The wealth of information and expertise that can be accessed for free online (eroding some traditional member benefits)
  • Changing attitudes towards identity and belonging - eg multiple identities
  • Fluidity of engagement - people are loyal to organisations/brands for shorter periods of times and move between groups and organisations more frequently - 'shopping around' for ways to express their values and beliefs
  • More individual action - eg ethical consumerism
  • Growth of individual agency, freewill and autonomy as important social values
  • 'Pro-social' behaviour
  • Decline of deference - attitudes towards institutions as ways of getting things done!


  • The idea of worldviews, and how the influence adotpions of social media
  • Thinking about organisations as networks
  • The end of management
  • The relationship between identity and membership

The nature of membership organisations, and membership

  • What are the different types of membership organisations.
  • Why do people join
  • What is the difference between membership and volunteering
  • How can we organise without organisations
  • How to create a collaboration culture
  • Why people are more important than technology
  • In using social media start small and work with enthusiasts
  • Why walled gardens may not work for membership organisations

Barriers to development

  • We can't do that - and they mustn't do it either
  • Not "getting it" may be a matter of worldview
More about project development here.