How to... grow membership

All clubs need to have a strong membership base


All clubs need to have a strong membership base which will be made up of a range of individuals and families.

A majority of the members will be participants but they will also include parents, individuals who are interested in the social aspects of the club

And country members,members who have moved away from the area but who still have an interest in the club and are general supporters of the club.

The membership income is one of the main income streams for the club and therefore it is important that the club focusses on it and actively attempts to grow the income.

The club will need to understand

a) who the potential members are

b) what their individual 'wants and needs' are and

c) actively communicate with the potential members

Key points to remember are:

  • For each category ensure that benefits are included that are wanted by the specific group being targeted. If you don’t know what it is each category wants then carry out some research to find out
  • Use the web site, social media, word of mouth and e mail to sell the memberships, telling target groups what they get and why they should consider buying a membership.
  • Actively sell memberships and collect data from all members.
  • Ensure that what members are told they will get from their membership is delivered. It costs more to find a new member as it does to keep one.

The Target Group - examples

The Target Group - examples


What you offerthis target group will vary and therefore it is important that the club recognises the different types of “customer”. The performance rugby player (male or female) will want to have good coaches, good facilities, and a competitive team. The social rugby player will also require good coaching and facilities but will also want to have fun and a good social life through the club. Others may simply want the club to be welcoming to families.

Parents; the parents may simply take out a Junior Membership for their child/children if you don’t tell them about the benefits of being family members. These benefits could include discounts at events, access to certain social events, newsletters, fitness classes for mothers etc.

Social Members – You will need to understand why a non-participant should join the club. What’s in it for him/her if he does? The package needs to be developed and promoted.

Country Members – all clubs have individuals and families who have moved away but who would still like to be linked to the club. The Country Membership should be cheap but offer benefits such as newsletters, discounts on club merchandise etc.

Case study - Malahide RFC


As a result of falling revenue and recommendations within the club's Strategic Plan, membership was reviewed in 2010.

A Membership Steering Group was set up and undertook to carry out a full membership review which focussed on:

  • Researching what local clubs were offering, their structures and price points
  • Identifying any gaps that may have been over looked by their current structure, e.g. online membership - easier access to membership, etc
  • Look to offer existing and potential members something that encompasses more than just a rugby culture
  • Examine ways in which the club could increase footfall into the facility through a new membership programme

The Steering Group findings were as follows

  • Existing club records were in disarray – needing immediate attention
  • Many of those considered to have paid their membership had not done so
  • Many email addresses were invalid and so too were member contact details
  • Fewer than 30 % of those on the system were actually members
  • Club emails were going to non-members and not reaching our actual membership
  • No central record system for mini and youths – all records held by coaches
  • At the time, two-thirds of the senior membership had not paid their subs
  • The club needed to include non-rugby members from surrounding areas if it were to increase footfall into the facility and increase revenues
  • We urgently needed to increase our membership and our parental involvement

What did they do?

They decided to a) ensure that each category provided value for money and provided the benefits that were required b) they created a range of community groups which would attract memberships e.g. Golf society, cycling club etc. c) they actively sold the membership d) they created a web application form for membership (see below)

The Outcomes

  • Accurate club membership database
  • Online Membership plans set up through website
  • Significant increase in all areas of club membership - Playing , senior, youth, minis,Student, Associate / Social /OAP
  • Societies within club set up; Tag Rugby,Wheelers,Golf,Fitness and Running