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Understanding your members

Four members of Glenwvis Distillery holding bottles of whiskey

Before you can start to develop or refine your membership strategy, you need to understand your current situation. We call this a membership audit.

What is a membership audit?

A membership audit looks at who your members are, what systems and resources you use to monitor member engagement, what is working well and what can be improved.

This will help you to understand your membership retention and growth rate and inform your membership strategy.

SWOT analysis

Think about your co-op’s membership and write down:

  • Strengths: Do you have lots of members? Very active members who care about your co-op? Is your membership offer easy to understand?
  • Weaknesses: Perhaps you have very few members or low attendance at AGMs. Do members know how they can get involved? Do you have limited resources to recruit and engage members?
  • Opportunities: How can you make improvements to membership? Can you run a member survey to find out what members’ value the most?
  • Threats: What’s getting in the way of success?  Do you have strong competitors, or is the economic climate an issue?

Measuring success

There are four basic indicators of a successful membership programme. Once you understand your current position you can set targets.

  • Retention rate: The percentage of members retained over a period of time.
  • Growth rate: The rate at which membership is growing.
  • Tenure: The average length of time that a member stays in membership.
  • Member value: The average spend of a member during their membership period.

Mission alignment

Are your members the right people to help you deliver your mission? This will depend on what your mission is and how you plan to deliver it.

Membership systems

The systems you have in place may include:

  • Membership database
  • Customer Resource Management system (CRM)
  • Online presence - website, social media
  • Communications tools – newsletters, social media accounts

Are these good enough to do the job? Consider what would be the ideal, what you’d like to have and what’s essential – your budget will guide you. Learn how to keep good membership records.


Think about the resources you have available include:

  • Money
  • Staff
  • Venue
  • Reasons for engagement

You need to design your ambitions according to what you can realistically achieve.

Need help with your strategy?

Our membership team can help
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