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Membership recruitment and due diligence

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This stage covers the point at which you formally launch your consortium, and invite organisations to join.

If you have gone through the previous stages thoroughly, membership recruitment should flow naturally out of work you have already done. A good communications strategy will keep potential member organisations up to date with your progress. Developing your business plan will have involved you deciding on membership criteria and a recruitment process, ie which organisations will be eligible to be members and how you will recruit and vet them.

Outcomes for this stage

  • You will have launched your consortium to your target membership market.
  • You will have put in place a system for vetting members against membership criteria, and any other systems necessary for ensuring that you get the right organisations joining.

Key activities for this stage

  1. Develop application forms for distribution along with the membership prospectus.
  2. Hold a launch event for your consortium. It is a good idea to invite commissioners along to this, and to use the opportunity to explain how your consortium works.
  3. Put in place a system for reviewing applications against membership criteria. Be aware that you might need to be asking for supporting documentation, such as constitutions and articles of association. If so this can be a resource intensive process.
  4. Recruit a panel to make decisions on membership. Most membership panels operate remotely after an initial meeting. There are often a lot of applications in response to an initial recruitment drive, then the numbers typically fall off.
  5. Ensure that membership panel members are signed up to a confidentiality or mutual non-disclosure agreement, as they will be reviewing commercially sensitive information.
  6. Write your membership process up into a membership prospectus (see templates below). In addition to clearly setting out your criteria and processes for membership, this prospectus will become a useful marketing tool. 

Membership structures

Most voluntary sector consortia have a two-tier membership structure.

  • Full members are those that are contract-ready.
  • Associate members are those that require some development before they can take part in a bid.

For associate members there is usually a plan in place to support them to become contract-ready.

There should also be the possibility for the consortium to engage with very small organisations, even unincorporated associations. The consortium can remunerate them for the delivery of small-scale but nonetheless crucial activities (eg reach and engagement activities within ‘hard-to-reach’ communities) without the need for them to become consortium members and having the burden of going through the membership process. This would involve light touch, non-contracting payment methods, such as spot purchasing and payment on invoice.

A consortium can also subcontract to organisations outside of the membership, including national charities and private-sector organisations. Those organisations do not need to be consortium members and obviously would not have access to the benefits derived from consortium membership.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 14 October 2020

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