Members are key stakeholders in sport organisations. The AFL clubs do this extremely well—some clubs such as Collingwood and Richmond have over 90,000 members!

Now other sport organisations from other codes are getting on board with implementing membership programs—in the NRL South, Sydney have over 32,000 members.

Having members means engaging with a bigger audience, which gives you a steady membership database, solid revenue stream, and more potential revenue. Sport organisations which don’t have a membership program are missing out on revenue from this key stakeholder group, such as membership subscriptions and cross-sell opportunities. They are also losing out by simply not communicating to this group of engaged people.

Some sport organisations which do have membership programs in place do not have any retention strategies—they just collect the Membership subscription and that’s it. This leads to attrition in membership as well as a loss in revenue.

It is essential that sport organisations look at making membership acquisition and retention a priority. Strategies should be developed and implemented for communicating to members with a view towards creating engagement and growing revenues through members and potential new members.

Membership categories need to be identified. There are core categories that are applicable to certain sports, and then there are categories that differentiate you from your competitors.

Some categories that work for one club will/may not work for others. For example, in the WAFL (West Australian Football League) Peel Thunder has a platinum membership category that targets a high-end demographic. This works well for them; however, this category would not work at other WAFL Clubs.

Membership programs can work for all types of Sport Organisations. When I was at The Cut Golf Club, new membership grew by 15% through the introduction of new categories, current member incentives and a targeted outbound phone campaign.

By having a strong membership program in place, there will be potential for new membership growth, member retention growth and a decline in attrition. Revenue growth opportunities will be enhanced, and there will be greater engagement, brand awareness and brand value.