When I told people that I was going to a meeting at the Tower of London their reaction was usually a nervous chuckle- maybe they’ve all been reading the latest Booker winner ‘Bring up the Bodies’. But it didn’t dampen attendance at the Membership Management Forum meeting on Friday. Plant Heritage are members of the organisation and Gill usually attends: the meetings are on Fridays and I don’t work on that day. However the topic ‘Membership retention and renewal’ was too good to miss and the venue was pretty good too.
The workshop format was based on tables of representatives from similar sized organisations and there were enough in the 2000-7000 members bracket for Gill and me to be on separate tables, thereby doubling the experience. I was rather jealous that her table was to include a representative of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, but I got the Globe Theatre and Greenwich museums. Interestingly we both had National Plant Collection venues in our groups, Hampton Court Palace (Queen Mary II Exoticks and Lanatana) in mine and Ness Botanic Gardens (Sorbus) for Gill.
All organisations are facing the same challenges, an ageing membership and financial cutbacks. Many had much greater budgets for publicity; the Brighton Pavilion produces an exsquisite folder of publicity material, but none of them have our local group structure which engenders a sense of belonging. Two hours wasn’t long enough to solve the question, but we all came away with ideas to try out.