Happy Birthday Membership Matters!
As Membership Matters celebrates its 8th birthday, we speak to founder David Douglas about the challenges facing the association and membership sector.
Happy 8th birthday Membership Matters! David, for anyone who don’t know. What does Membership Matters do?
In short, we help membership associations. We provide a range of consultancy, research, training and executive search solutions exclusively to the membership sector – from the UK’s best known, to some small but, incredibly vibrant associations that you may never have heard of.
It wasn’t always that way, tell us what it took to get Membership Matters where it is now?
Hard work. Belief. Humility. There is no secret mix. When we launched Membership Matters 8 years ago, it was always our goal to provide high quality support specific to the sector. We thought our services would speak for themselves – It was three months until we signed our first client and another three months until we signed our second.
We learned very quickly the importance of really understanding clients on an individual level first and then, the need to spend a great of deal time building strong and lasting relationships. This now forms the heart of our business and we are very proud of our client list as a result.
Why did you start Membership Matters?
I worked in the membership sector for 12 years before launching Membership Matters and got a sense that the sector was being short-changed. Time and time again, I would see associations bring in consultants, trainers, researchers – you name it, all with very little membership experience and I felt there was a gap in the market.
I feel incredibly privileged to work in this sector, to support membership organisations that are trying to improve society, drive the industry or interest they represent, changing the world as they go. I wanted to offer strategic level business support with experience gained from the inside. Budgets and resources are often limited in this sector and my aim was to offer tailored expertise that is affordable.
We work with all size and shapes of organisations. It doesn’t matter if you are a David or the Goliath of the membership sector, we can usually find solutions that works.
How do you think that the sector has changed over the years?
The membership sector is changing quickly, becoming more professionalised, commercialised, digitised as it adopts best-practice from the corporate world. In recent years we have seen an increase in demand for operational improvement, staff up-skilling and strategic planning services. However, thankfully, at the same time it has kept its focus and passionate people.
As commercialism and budgets have increased, we have also seen more suppliers flood into this space, many again new to the membership sector. This brings me back to the start, underlining that our founding principles are as relevant today as they were then.
Membership Matters – what should we know? What do you do best?
Membership Matters has been around for 8 years offering strategic consultancy and we have a lot of in-house experience meaning we don’t outsource any of our projects. Our solutions span from building strategy to securing insights, delivering training and upskilling teams and delivering member research that offers much more than just interesting facts.
We work closely with our clients, ensuring that any of the recommendations we make are achievable within the resources available.
What moment in your career are you most proud of?
A tough question to answer. I think I’m most proud of the long-term client relationships we have cultivated; the 5-year partnership with Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers who help families in difficult time, is a prime example.
We are currently working with the Royal British Legion and launched an enormous member survey, which will ultimately inform services that improve the lives of our current and ex-service men and women and their families.
Training has also been a key part of our delivery, supporting thousands of membership associations by sharing best practice on member engagement.
Recognising the amazing work that goes on in the membership sector is the overwhelming feeling. It fills me with pride knowing that we’re making a difference that spreads into the membership industry and, importantly, into society at large.
David will be sharing his thoughts on ‘making membership matter’ at the Associations Congress and Expo UK & Ireland on the 18th December, at the Novotel London, join us. See more