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A collaborative innovation

Since 2015, the New Citizenship Project has been working with membership organisations on a shared inquiry; to explore a future of membership focused primarily on participation in purpose, not transactions and benefits.

We published the findings from our early work in the 'Future of Membership' report in 2016. The report brings together the process and outputs, and shares the model we have developed together to help other organisations explore a path towards participatory membership. Since then, we have been exploring what Participatory Membership means for organisations of all shapes and sizes, with over seventy organisations working with our principles of Participatory Membership. 



Today many membership organisations have become trapped in ways of working that emphasise transactional interactions first and foremost.  At best, this approach can raise short term numbers and funds, but still fails to harness the full potential members can bring to an organisation’s work; at worst, it directly undermines both long term impact and financial sustainability.

Participatory Membership is a new approach which sees organisations embrace members as potential participants in the cause, not just Consumers of benefits.


Because unless an organisation has explicit clarity on purpose, the transactional model can too easily become the tail wagging

the dog.


Because unless an organisation asks how it can do its work with and through its members, the result is often an underlying

erosion of engagement.


Because this represents a very different way of thinking and working, and as such one which we will need to experiment to create together.


We have run two full cohorts of the process, each time working with six membership organisations who brought two staff members along who were each tasked with thinking about how membership at their organisation could become more participatory. Each phase started with an intensive full-day workshop, followed by a combination of co-mentoring visits between the participants and direct coaching and support from the New Citizenship Project team.

We have since run a further three one-day Bootcamps, exploring the three principles of participatory membership with an even more diverse and interesting group of organisations.


Our intention right from the start was to work together to create a set of tools that any organisations could use to start their own journey towards Participatory Membership. If you want to unleash the full potential of your membership base, and spark energy, ideas and enthusiasm in your organisation along the way, start here.

Download the poster

A quick reference to get you started with the Three Principles of Participatory Membership in your organisation

Download the full report

The in-depth guide to Participatory Membership, complete with frameworks, case studies and how-to guides

Powered by the New Citizenship Project

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