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Children Playing Football

Membership Development for Clubs

All sports clubs are essentially membership bodies that exist for, and because of, the people at the club; members, players and participants. By empowering a wide range of people around a specific cause, this model enables clubs to grow stronger, impact society and have a sustainable funding stream.

When we talk about membership we are referring to the people who pay an subscription to be part of their club and have a say in how it operates. This resource has been developed as a guide to assist clubs in developing their membership and their relationships with them.

In a community sports club, developing the membership is important for a variety of reasons. Of course, the fees paid by members are a vital source of income, but the membership also provides the club with a wider network of people who may be willing to assist the club through volunteering. Furthermore, having a large membership demonstrates the reach, impact and representative nature of a sports club within the wider community.

What does good membership development look like?

Membership development is vital to any sport club's success

All membership organisations face two key challenges, recruiting and then retaining members. According to the Sports Club Survey Report for 2017/18, the most identified potential challenge for clubs over the following two years was the recruitment and retention of members (68% of clubs said this was their priority). To recruit members there is a need to get the message out to a wider audience within the community.

There is a need to understand what people want from membership and what attracts them and motivates them to want to participate with the club. There are different ways of recruiting members including:


  • Face-to-face: engagement with people in the community.

  • Word of mouth: using existing members to “spread the word.”

  • Website: providing information about the club’s activities and benefits of membership, and

  • Social media: potential to quickly reach a mass audience.


Whatever method of engagement is used, it is important to develop a clear brand and have consistent messaging. Having recruited members, the next challenge is retaining them. Key to this is making people feel valued by providing opportunities to engage with the club. By listening to feedback you can ensure that you are providing members with what they want. This can involve an annual survey in which you gather feedback on how satisfied members are with your club and its activities. A good way of enabling members to feel engaged is to ensure that they have access to the club’s decision making structures. This can be achieved, for instance, by ensuring committee members are available to meet members at games.

Practical Tips for Managing Memberships, Payments & Gift Aid

One way to improve the way your club operates and engages with its membership is to use a multi-function online membership management tool. There are various systems out there that will do that, however Club Development Consultancy have a preferred partner that enables payment collection, a hub of information regarding your members and the ability to communicate in a professional and consistant manner with your members. A lot of sports clubs and teams still collect their membership fees using cheque, cash or standing order. Chasing payments even once every year can often waste a lot of time and it may be worth looking at setting up an automatic payment method such as Direct Debit via a membership management system. Not only does using Direct Debit allow you to avoid waiting for cheques and cash, it also allows you automatically renew memberships every year. It helps your members to stay with the club for longer and reduces admin time for both for them and the club.

Be sure to speak to us about our preferred membership partner by emailing

Membership Development Top Tips

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