The ASC report titled “Market Segmentation for Sport Participation – Adults 14-65 years old” report indicated that “a total of 25% of the Australian market aged 14-65 years old were currently not members of sport clubs but expressed interest in joining one to do physical activity or sport.
This equates to over 3.8 million Australians who are potentially new club members.”
Clubs could consider the following strategies to increase and retain their membership:
Make it easy to get involved
The report indicated that 20% of people who want to get involved in a club do not know how to do so.
Clubs therefore need to invite the community to join their club in as many places as possible. Most importantly clubs should have a website. This is how many people search for information. The website must have an open invitation to come and become involved in the club. It should list a club person’s name and contact details.
Remember though, websites only capture those people who consciously seek the club information out. There are many people who wish to become part of a club but are not actively seeking this information out. The club could consider using the following form of invitations:
- Posters, flyers and bill boards around town
- Letter box drops at the start of the season
- Using council communication it invite people to the club
- Social media invitations
- School newsletters
Club “communication should promote inclusiveness and address perceptions that clubs are exclusive and membership is dependent on skill level.”
Club communications should make it clear your club welcomes the diversity of their community, especially in terms of culture, age, gender and ethnicity.
Flexibility and enjoyment will drive participation
Where possible, create a range of opportunities and options for people to participate at times which are convenient to potential new members. This is particularly relevant where the club is creating activities which are focused more on participation, enjoyment and socialisation rather than competition and winning.
Create opportunities to invite potential members to try your activities and club facilities. Running regular, free “come and try” opportunities to introduce your sport and club to potential members is a great way of breaking down barriers.
Try to create “come and try” events which have activities for all the family.
Other methods of encouraging people to your club include:
- Free trial periods
- Introductory / beginner classes
- Potentially financial incentives (e.g. reduced fees or discount equipment costs)
Create family based membership options and activities which seek to overcome lack of time being a major barrier to joining your club. Options which are attractive to people with families include:
- Child care facilities
- Family memberships
- Activities where parents and children can participate either together or simultaneously undertaking separate activities
Recognise and acknowledge the constraints of different age groups
The rigid structure and scheduling of clubs may unintentionally prohibit people from being members even when they want to.
Students in their core years of school require flexibility to be able to juggle their challenging school commitments. They also need an outlet to ease the pressure of constant study so if the club can be flexible about their expectations of the students participation while providing a desired social outlet students are more likely to remain club members.
Older participants may have restrictions based on age, injury or fitness so may require rules and playing structures to be modified to cater for these constraints.
Cost of membership
Cost of membership is increasingly becoming an issue. It is important for clubs to focus on creating an experience where members feel they are receiving real value for money.
Other ways to offset the barrier of cost is to:
- Have flexible membership options in terms of pricing and payment terms
- Two for one memberships
- Free beginners classes
Clubs should also consider introducing strategies where members can offset their membership fees by undertaking activities to offset the cost of membership. For example if a club membership is $100.00 then give members the opportunity to have this paid by such activities as:
- Introduce a sponsor to the value of $200 (so the club effectively gets the $100 membership and $100 sponsorship)
- Create a raffle and as an inducement for members to sell tickets, if they sell $200.00 worth of tickets their membership would be paid for.
This gives the opportunity for those on lower incomes to cover their membership without it becoming obvious that they may have financial constraints. It also gives the individual a real sense of purpose knowing they have paid for their memberships and not been the subject of charity.
Strong social calendar
Over half those surveyed indicated they joined their club for the social benefits.
For many the social benefits are the primary driver of their club membership so it is vital that the club has a vibrant social calendar which meets this very important need of its members.
Social events and activities also create an opportunity for members to bring potential members into the club in a fun setting are a great way to overcome the perception of clubs being cliquey and exclusive.
Don’t fall into the trap of only creating social events as a way of making funds for your club
Non sport activities
”Many people assumed that membership would be accompanied by a pressure to commit time beyond simply to play sport. Most assumed they would be asked and expected to commit to some kind of volunteering, fundraising, or forced socialisation beyond the sport.”
“Volunteering was felt to require a large time commitment and to imply a high level of commitment or investment into the club which can both be off putting.”
This is a double edge sword for clubs as they need members to contribute their time to non sport activities but this is seen by many as a deterrent. It is important for clubs to look for ways for volunteers to break down tasks so they are neither daunting or time consuming.
For example instead of having one member responsible for attracting sponsors ask all members to seek and introduce one sponsor. The likelihood is this will raise more funds for the club while not being too big a burden for individual members.
More Club Participation Information
a) Club Participation
c) Benefits of Club Membership
d) Barriers to Joining Sports Clubs
e) Understanding the ‘funneling’ effect of Sports Participation
f) Re-engaging past Club members
g) Strategies Clubs can use to Attract and Retain Members
h) Disability Inclusion