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About the project


Beginning in October 2015, the New Citizenship Project brought together six leading

membership organisations in a shared inquiry, to explore a future of membership as a relationship focused primarily on participation in purpose, rather than a product rooted in benefits-based transactions. The participants came together motivated by a shared sense that the dominant transactional model of membership is no longer working, and a will to explore alternatives. Together, we framed an overarching question for the project.

Each organisation then defined its own question within this broader inquiry, with

the New Citizenship team working in parallel both to support the group and, based on the understanding emerging from the collaboration, to look outwards for theoretical models to help  explain what we were finding and for examples of emerging practice in the wider world of membership.


Amnesty International works to protect men, women and children wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. As a global movement of over seven million people, Amnesty International is the world’s largest grassroots human rights organisation. We investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilise the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world. A recent strategy review identified a need to refocus on our original model of enabling as many people from all over the world and from all backgrounds to campaign together – doing it with our members not for them. The motivation for Amnesty UK to join the project was the space to share, support, listen and learn.

The House of St Barnabas was founded in 1846 to help those in “necessitous circumstances” and with a desire to show society that there was another way to support people who had fallen on hard times back to independence with dignity. Today The House of St Barnabas continues to move with the times: an Employment Academy is fully integrated into their social business, a not-for-profit private members’ club with a socially conscious and vibrant membership. In this environment our participants are able to build their confidence, skills, and gain work experience throughout the club and offices. The House faces the  ongoing challenge of all good social enterprises, balancing the immediate demands of its business model with the longer term imperatives of its founding purpose; they were attracted to this project by the opportunity to hold that challenge together with others exploring similar questions - and extended the hospitality of the club to create the perfect setting for the inquiry.

NASUWT, The Teacher’s Union, represents teachers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  NASUWT organises in all sectors from early years to further education and represents teachers in all roles including heads and deputies, and in doing so provides a number of critical services, not least professional insurance.  NASUWT joined the project fresh off the back of their role in the publication of In Professions We Trust: Virtuous Practice in Teaching, Medicine and Law, in collaboration with the thinktank Res Publica, seeing this as an opportunity to further that renewed commitment to the core purpose of the organisation.

NUS, National Union of Students, is a confederation of 550 students’ unions, campaigning together for transformational education to contribute to a fair and sustainable future. NUS joined the project at a time of significant change in organisational leadership, with a recognised need for a renewed commitment to and clarity of purpose. The extent to which many students identify the NUS only with their discount card emphasised the need for this sort of work, and sharing this challenge with the analogies faced by other participants was a primary driver for their involvement.

The Soil Association is a food and farming charity and organic certification body.  Formed in 1946 to pioneer a better world – one where we can all eat, farm and live healthily and sustainably - they too joined the project at a critical strategic juncture.  Work was already well under way to unify the diverse elements of the organisation and refresh their relationship with members, and the offer of continued support and stimulus for this work represented a major motivation for participation.

Tate is a family of 4 galleries - Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool - operating together in service of a mission to promote public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art.  Recent brand work articulated the purpose of the organisation as “A common space to provoke debate, activating people through art”, and the appeal of this project to the Tate team was the promise of a structure in which the membership proposition in particular could develop in order to reflect and live out this purpose.

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