Membership changes at Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

By Steve Mills

Membership is an integral part of Kew’s charity activities, providing a large portion of its non-governmental income. Kew needed to investigate solutions to prevent a mass member defection and loss of income following the removal of a membership benefit because of HMRC Gift Aid rules. Additionally, Kew were interested in whether a plan to merge two overly complex membership packages really presented as high a risk as their internal financial modelling suggested.

Applying the Membership Verdict retention model, which involved around 2,500 interviewees, BDRC were able to understand the perceived ‘value’ of individual membership benefits to existing members. The impact of benefit removal, reduction or upgrade could then be modelled. Membership Verdict offers a flexible analysis system which enabled Kew to make predictions for a comprehensive range of benefits package scenarios. Kew were able to easily identify the changes to membership retention and income should a single membership benefit be added, modified or removed, or should price changes take place.

The depth of the research model enabled Kew to make several key decisions to their membership policy based on the results. The removal of concession rates for seniors and the 20% discount for additional guests was found to have a minimal negative impact upon retention but a significant positive impact upon income. This membership benefit was removed as a result. Most importantly, Kew decided to relaunch its membership schemes as a single, unified ‘Friends of Kew’ scheme, having reviewed the findings and discovered that this unification was more feasible than previously thought. As a result of the relaunch, membership income has improved and retention rates have been higher than previously thought, despite the challenging economic environment which has seen retention rates elsewhere within the sector decline considerably.

 

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