The importance of club membership

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February 13, 2024
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The importance of club membership

Members are the beating heart of your sports club. They coach your juniors, they maintain your grounds, they run the clubhouse and ultimately they give up every one of their weekends turning out performances on the pitch in the name of your club.


As a level of importance then, maintaining your current members and attracting new ones should be central to everything your club does.


Having a process in place to ensure a constant stream of new members (and then keeping hold of them) is what will secure your club's future for generations to come.

What do people want from membership?

Your club offer a number of things to new and potential members from your local community. The obvious one is the opportunity to engage in a healthy and active lifestyle through sport. But you shouldn't assume that every existing or potential new member is in it predominantly just to play your chosen sport.

Your club is also a collection of values. Serving the local community for generations, maintaining these values is key to developing a strong club culture that attracts people who want to be part of a proud community institution.

Aside from sports and cultural-based reasoning, members might also be inclined to get involved in your club for social reasons. The most attractive clubs are ones that offer a place as part of a family. You're not just treated as a teammate, but a friend. Meeting new people and socialising with friends is a significant factor for taking up sports.

On the flip side, a significant factor for people dropping out of sports is social-based. If they don't see their teammates as friends, the likelihood they'll carry on at the club will diminish.


rugby players celebrate with each other

What clubs get back

From a club perspective, the development of these three membership-boosting factors can translate into a more sustainable club in the future.

From a sporting angle, attracting the most focused and dedicated players will improve the overall quality of your teams. Better teams means more potential for success, a factor which plays directly into a strong club culture.

Growing club membership Ebook download cta bottom

Marry success with years of dedicated service to your local community and you'll soon be attracting local talent and parents who want to see their child blossom at a club they can trust.

Ultimately, developing these strong membership draws brings one thing every club needs – financial security. Members turn up to your club every week to spend their hard-earned cash. Without their consistent financial support, your club would be unable to continue serving the community both now and in the future.

Can you extend your membership base?

So, how can clubs widen their net in search of members? Not everyone wants to play your given sport in your community, but that doesn't mean they can't become members of your club in one capacity or another.


A common alternative to core membership is the 'associate member'. Does your club have additional facilities such as tennis courts, bowls or a five-a-side pitch? If so, users could pay a fee to become associate members. If any of those facilities home fully-fledged teams, you could merge them all together under on all-under-one-roof sports club - opening new doors for membership in the process.

If you have sports enthusiasts who, due to injury or age, no longer wish to be part of the playing team, could you support their efforts to get into football refereeing, hockey coaching or cricket scoring?

If your clubhouse is lucky enough to have a bar and/or function area, these could play a role in the creation of a social membership. Regular attendees at your clubhouse who aren't necessarily into the playing side may still wish to gain some official affiliation with your club.

football referee

'Selling' your club

Make no mistake, your club is a business. It needs a constant source of funds in order to continue to operate, and you need to treat your members (and potential members) as customers in order to get them joining up and handing over their cash to you.


It can be a tricky hurdle to overcome for some club officials, but it's essential if you are to get in the right frame of mind for 'selling' the benefits of your product to customers.


Whenever you embark on a club communication then, consider it as part of your wider recruitment plan. Who is the audience, and what do they look for in a club? What a parent wants (security and a friendly youth team their child can grow into) is very different from what a potential U18s member would want (the challenge of competitive sport and the opportunity to socialise).

Coupled with the message, consider your platform. Different audiences are more likely to be found in different places. So, if you're targeting a particular group over others, find them where they like to hang out.

Again, we can compare generational differences. Generally speaking, anyone under the age of 30 is likely to be technologically native, who have most of their conversations online through channels such as social media and messaging apps. In comparison, parents or older members may still be best accessed through traditional marketing methods such as flyers (delivered via schools or local business) or older technologies such as email.

Whenever you're looking to refine your product (membership to your club) or how you market it (communications), consider how your competitors size up against you.

Other local clubs are vying for attention in front of the same audience as you, so you need to build a better proposition than them and communicate it more effectively. Keep track of what your competitors are and aren't offering, plus how they are communicating that offer - looking to exploit potential weak spots.



Once they're in, retain them

Even when you've got the members on board, your job is far from complete. Maximise the effectiveness of your membership by keeping them engaged in everything your club gets up to.


Part of that links back to creating a positive club culture and a friendly, family-orientated environment that appeals to all your members. You can take this into everyday communication by effectively speaking to your members every single day.

If your club is making efforts to run events, socials and other member-engaging get-togethers, they need to be communicated.


Again, think back to your audience, how to get to them and how to communicate with them effectively. Use social media, email, your club website and the clubhouse notice board to communicate with everyone you want to get the message out to.

That carries over to the simple weekly grind of training and match day info. Players sign up to your club to play, so make sure your coach is making it as easy as possible for them to get training and selection information.

Involve your club members and make them feel like essential and appreciated - which they are. You'll soon be turning them into club ambassadors who are willing to spend hundreds of pounds at the club, invite other new members along, and serve your community with you for years to come.

Retain and grow your membership - Free Ebook

Members are the lifeblood of your club. Click to download our free Ebook below to get plenty more tips and strategies for attracting new members and retaining your current members.

Growing club membership Ebook download cta bottom

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