Leader: Rethinking our membership offer

As I look back over my articles and the things your Publicity, Membership and Website (PMW) committee have been considering, I am reflecting on what we have achieved and what needs to change.

We have increased membership numbers over the last year, reviewed and ensured fees remain excellent value for money and put a lot of effort into redesigning and launching the members’ survey.

We had a very low response rate to the survey, which as we all know, means we need to take care when interpreting results. However, we did see some common themes. Those of you who are academics are most likely to value your access to the Society’s journals. If you are a practitioner, it’s harder to pinpoint one clear benefit. However, the common threads are all about helping you to keep up to date and make connections with other people.

Over the year, we have had some healthy debates about what we offer to you, our members, and how we might make this more valuable. The intention is that the more relevant we are, the more likely you are to engage, to recommend us and to stay a member and the better we can support you. This in turn gives us a bigger voice when it comes to achieving our charitable aims and championing the role of OR in society.


Rosemary Byrd

One of the topics we’re discussing is the frequency, content and nature of this magazine – which I have written about before. Although there have been a lot of good ideas about what else we might do differently, one of the blockers to change is the time and investment needed to bring some of these to life.

With the arrival of the new Executive Director and shortly, a new Head of Member Experience, it is a good time to review all our suggestions and reset our strategy. The aim is to agree a set of focussed actions that will deliver the most value, with clear accountability, prioritisation for staff and alignment to the OR Society strategy. We also need to be clear on our role in addressing the issue of a potential reduction in journal income.

Alongside this, we want to be more explicit about what we are aiming for. For example, how many new members could or should we aspire to recruit? How much should membership fees contribute to the overall Society income profile and how much should be ‘ring fenced’ for direct member benefits?

The following gives you a flavour of some of the areas we are considering:

  • Appealing to new members: Considering what we need to know about current non-members and then how we promote membership to them e.g. member videos, understanding our relevance.
  • Increase value to existing members e.g. podcast, mentor matching, digital online community, more focus and support on SIGs and RSs (Special Interest Groups and Regional Societies), review of accreditation
  • Promoting membership and donations as a means to support our charitable activity
  • Reviewing the corporate membership offer
  • Closer working with other committees who are key to the member offer e.g. events, training
  • For existing members, you can see that many of the suggestions could help with ‘keeping you up to date’ and ‘making connections’.

In order to be successful, we will need to select a few things to do well and create capacity within the OR Society staff team and/or call on the services of our volunteer community. I’m looking forward to working with Seb and everyone else as we bring fresh eyes and experience to change how we engage with you all, for the better!