Membership acquisition and retention is a key factor for all clan and family societies. Last fall, COSCA conducted a survey that examined how successful societies manage their membership. The results indicate that the old techniques of printed newsletters and presence at Highland games are no longer defining activities. The more successful societies are engaging in modern-day business practices that involve online services.
In September and October 2022, COSCA conducted a survey that attracted responses from 37 clan and family societies. The questions explored the source of new members (games or online), the type of memberships, communications (print or e-mail), presence online (websites and Facebook), and whether the society conducted meetings through video conferences (on such platforms as Zoom.) The responses were divided into two categories: 24 societies that had generally increased its membership over the past five years and 13 societies that had not. The differences between the two groups were then compared.
Both groups were relatively similar in terms of the source of their members, the categories of memberships, and the method of communications. For example, when asked whether their members were acquired at games (or other in-person events) or online, the results were about evenly split, with about 22% reporting they did not know.
Most societies have premium or life members (76%) while only 32% have a free membership level with limited benefits.
The percentage of societies that provide a printed newsletter at least quarterly or an e-mail newsletter distributed at least bimonthly was both about 40%. Many societies offer a portable document format (PDF) newsletter via e-mail.
The major difference between the successful societies (i.e., those that agreed or strongly agreed that membership had increased in the past five years) and those that disagreed with in the areas on online service and connection.
The number one difference was whether the society held Zoom meetings with their members: 79% of the successful societies agreed or strongly agreed that it had “hosted at least one online (e.g. Zoom) meeting for all members in the past year.” Of the societies that had not increased membership, 38% agreed or strongly agreed, for a gap of 41%.
If you are an Organizational Member Delegate or Alternate, you can learn more about the other factors of success and details from clan and family societies here: https://www.cosca.scot/membership-survey-2022