Edward Wild is the Director of Wild Search, a Westminster based executive search and advisory business which works for charities, membership organisations and education providers. Follow Edward on Twitter.
As we approach conference season, with the ever-increasing corporate delegate numbers, isn't it time to ask whether membership could become an engine for the revival of the Conservative Party’s financial and political fortunes - particularly given recent reports of donors scaling back their support, and a long-term decline in donor giving? Does a clear distinction need to be made between those who are supporters - and perhaps don’t want to subscribe - and those who do?
In other words, perhaps the whole definition of membership should be revisited. After all, membership of all the main political parties is in decline – at a greater rate in some than others, and it’s a trend shared by parties across Europe. Conhome suggested in 2010 that Conservative membership was down to 177,000 (against 10.7 million Conservative votes cast in the same year at the election). And it’s probably not a surprise. Other membership organisations have suffered during the economic downturn. Whereas professional bodies for accountancy, legal and property have a strong commercial position due to their validation and accreditation, organisations which are not seen to be of critical professional important have to demonstrate the value they offer and the return on the investment made.