Our partners, the NCVO Foresight team, and RSA Networks, will be taking a lead on research. See initial blog posts below from Megan Griffith of NCVO and Sophia Parker of RSA, and set of resources here already identified by the team.
Initial thinking on 'packages' of primary research include:
- A literature review and some statistical analysis of the state of membership today. For the purposes of this work we need a working definition of what counts as 'membership'. Our current thinking is to define it by affiliation determined by a financial contribution. However we are also interested in related aspects of membership - e.g. of professional organisations; and of 'coalition campaigns' such as End Child Poverty.
- The meaning of membership to individuals. What people see themselves as members of? Why do they join? What value do they perceive from being a member? Is there a difference between affiliation, membership and participation? This work will take a qualitative approach, potentially using ethnographic work alongside focus group sessions etc.
- Some case study work to explore where membership organisations themselves are in this changing world. What are organisations doing to recruit, engage and retain their members? What are their perspectives on their role and mission? Has this changed over time? Where do they see things going?
These dimensions of the work will then feed into a more collaborative and participative futures thinking exercise, involving membership organisations themselves to reflect on how the world might be, and what membership organisations need to do to prepare for future scenarios.
In terms of funding, we need to seek some money to cover the costs of conducting the core dimensions of the research. We would like to develop a funding model whereby membership organisations themselves contribute some support for the early research, in order to secure a place to participate in the futures thinking exercise. We'd welcome thoughts on where else we might attract funding from.