New initiative supports membership growth in European National Scout Organizations
One of Europe’s most ambitious growth initiatives is taking place in seven National Scout Organizations (NSOs), marking a significant shift in priorities for the whole Region. A year ago, Regional leadership decided that membership growth should return to the spotlight as a region-wide priority, so they reached out to NSOs who had expressed interest in reworking their approach to membership retention and growth.
Today, this has resulted in services to accelerate growth being implemented in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, following a thorough assessment of their market share and need for organisational development support. The European initiative aims to highlight membership growth as a prerequisite for sustainable development and to support NSOs to develop their capacities holistically. Increasing membership, for example, may also touch on improvements to an NSO’s Youth Programme, strengthening good governance or setting up better structures for fundraising.
The types of intervention have been very diverse. While in Bulgaria the service implementation focused on opening new Scout groups, in Croatia it supported the NSO to conduct a GSAT assessment and develop an action plan to address growth potential from a holistic perspective. In Hungary, a WOSM Consultant is providing training to support the induction of the National Board, which is opening new opportunities to tackle membership growth. Meanwhile, a pilot project in North Macedonia is seeing Scouting being introduced in schools, an initiative that is kick-starting a completely new practice in the whole Region.
While the services are still ongoing, their impact is already measurable. Based on progress made by some NSOs involved, the European Region has received additional requests from other NSOs to implement similar measures, reflecting that growth is a priority not only on paper, but also in practice. Another measurable outcome is that the Hungarian and North Macedonian NSOs have managed to boost their membership since the implementation of these services.
This region-wide shift in priorities has led to securing financial support from the European Union through an Erasmus+ project to provide further support to North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania as a potential new WOSM member. With a budget of EUR 300,000 and a three-year timeline, this project will look at how the organisations are structured and support their growth in key areas: infrastructure and key policies, membership growth, and funding sustainability.