Commericialisation, Organisation


Recent trends suggesting a move away from membership and a reliance on digital only methods of membership recruitment and retention have not delivered the membership panacea many
had hoped. Membership is dead, was the rumour…but as often is the case, this rumour was wrong.

Yes, Membership in 2014 is still alive and kicking and the membership statistics from organisations that have used good quality strategy speak for themselves.

Many examples are available of strong membership growth including:

  • (A League) Western Sydney Wanderers from zero to 17,000 Members within two years
  • (AFL) Port Adelaide celebrates as membership hits a record high
  • Surf Life Saving membership numbers in Western Australia have jumped 8.3% in the past year
  • West Coast Fever (netball) reach beyond their target for 2014 memberships
  • (NRL) Rabbitohs doubled membership in two years
  • Institute Of Public Affairs 50% plus increase

Digital platforms, special developed mobile apps and email campaigns can all work well and it is important to move with the trends and the needs of members and potential members. But they work best if they are complementing a strong central strategy. The old trusted and tried methods are shining through as the stars of membership. Without the correct foundations a membership program will not do as well and growth will be hampered. Right now, membership is still seen by many smart thinking organisations as one of the top three income streams.

Organisations that are giving their membership programs lower priority are cutting themselves off at the knees. Taking away an income stream, that if nurtured and loved can provide them with the
resources and support they need for endless years, is just bad business.

The beauty of membership is that you should retain at least 80% of that income year after year whereas you lose one
major sponsor and you could be in real financial trouble.

When you devalue and deconstruct your membership program you are telling your participants that they are not worth supporting…its natural
that your members will move away and only the diehards will stay attached, and often not.

Rather than taking the easy option of slashing marketing campaigns and employing staff at a less experienced level, organisations should be developing an effective and workable strategy to
ensure they have membership programs which provide real value to members and will continue to ensure a revenue stream that continues to flow.

So what is the secret to building a good strong
membership program?

There are certain key elements crucial to the success of a membership program elements that few understand and even fewer follow. Victorian State Sporting Associations can learn lessons from the membership programs of the successful professional clubs who have embraced these key elements in their membership strategies.

By following these elements for success organisations can still take advantage of the great opportunities for growing solid profitable membership bases.

David Friend is the founder and CEO of Shared Services Solutions (SSS). Established in 2004, SSS has worked with some of the largest names in sport Australia and overseas. AFL Clubs include Hawthorn and St Kilda, A League Clubs by 4 which include Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory, 5 NRL Clubs, overseas clients in London and Monaco and many others including corporate clients. To grow your membership program please contact David Friend 0417 374 717 or

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