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The Reasons Members Join GCVS

Have you considered becoming a GCVS member or wondered about the reasons others sign up?

GCVS Chief Executive, Ian Bruce, tells us how he explains the benefits to groups and organisations and why that’s changed recently.

What’s in it for you?

Something that often surprises people about GCVS is that nearly everything we do is available to non-members and members. While we provide exclusive benefits such as discounts to those who join us; our networks, bulletins, training, advice, and other services are open to all. That’s because our purpose is to strengthen the whole voluntary sector in the city.

When I have talked to people about this, they usually ask the same question:

“So what’s the point of being a member?”

I respond, of course, listing practical rewards such as discounts on training and fundraising through the Yaldi! Community Lottery, and other perks like member events and opportunities to meet with decision-makers. These are all great benefits, but sometimes I can see on people’s faces that they already feel they have what they need from us without joining.

What do our member say?

When chatting with some members at an event in April 2023, I noticed that none of them mentioned these tangible benefits as a reason for joining; I’m not sure they even knew what they were.

They had joined because of what GCVS symbolised to them – being part of something bigger.

At the time, I was on the Board of Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS) and had a meeting there the same day. As I sat on the train to Edinburgh, I reflected on why GCVS chose to be a member of VHS and realised the same types of motivation were at play.

After this, I continued the conversation with members old and new whenever I could. Of course, some joined because they saved money on training, but what I mostly heard were more intangible reasons. By Autumn, I’d distilled what I’d heard into three interrelated things: being part of something bigger, being regarded as more credible, and being seen as collaborative and able to build connections.

If these were the things that were important to people, we needed to change how we thought about membership and how we protected and enhanced its perceived value. With further work by colleagues, five standards began to emerge that not only reflected what people were telling us but also the GCVS Board’s priorities for our work: Human Rights & Equalities, Climate Change and Fair Work in the third sector:

Our Membership Standards

Infographic shows 5 member standards

To check we were on the right track, we asked members their thoughts, and the responses were overwhelmingly positive.

When asked why they joined GCVS, 76% said it was about being a part of a community with shared values and 73% said connecting with others. These were rated much more important than the things we’ve always highlighted in benefits. Notably, 90% said it was important to their organisation’s credibility to be a member of GCVS.

With the new standards adopted, we are clearer about what being a GCVS member means. In future, when people ask why they should join I’ll be clear: being a GCVS member is about being part of a wider family of organisations that believe in being well-run, well-connected and achieving more for Glasgow.

Did you know that organisations run by volunteers can benefit from completely free GCVS membership?

Find more about membership here and apply using our online form. Or please get in touch to discuss your needs by email at membership@gcvs.org.uk.

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