On Wednesday I was at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in London to take part in a focus group as part of the NCVO/RSA project on ‘the future of membership’. Representatives of a wide range of Third Sector organisations discussed what ‘membership’ means in their contexts and how ideas of ‘membership’ are changing. We heard examples of ‘member’ being used to mean subscribers, mailing list recipients, those with a governance role, volunteers, clients, supporters, ambassadors and advocates. In most cases ‘members’ seem to be expected to fulfil several of these roles. We also looked at external factors which are changing the way in which people engage with voluntary organisations, particularly the recession, technology and localism. It was a fascinating afternoon which provided much food for thought. You can follow the progress of ‘the future of membership’ on the Third Sector Foresight website at http://www.3s4.org.uk/.
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