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Growing your club membership

Growing your club membership

Advice on being inclusive.

The club will have difficulty surviving if the membership isn’t continually growing. That doesn't mean you must keep adding members for the sake of it. But if you want your club to grow, or even to retain current numbers, you must consider strategies to ensure you have new members joining up.

Your marketing plans will play a big part in attracting new members. The marketing and communications section of Clubkit has more information on marketing your club.

Being inclusive - no exceptions

There are many barriers for people with disabilities who want to participate in sport, recreation or physical activity. The vision of the New Zealand Disability Strategy is "a society that highly values our lives and continually enhances our full participation". This shapes our No Exceptions Strategy as it envisions "all people participating in the physical recreation and sport activities of their choice". Your club’s use of the No Exceptions Strategy needs to be consistent with the following principles:

  • all New Zealanders have a right to access recreation and sporting opportunities
  • individuals and organisations need to work together in partnership
  • any initiatives should be sustainable and have a long-term community development focus
  • disabled people participate in sport and recreation for a range of reasons, just like other people
  • disabled people are experts about their own recreational needs, interests and issues
  • disabled people will take leadership and planning roles.

The ability to participate in sport and recreation is an essential right for everyone in our communities. For disabled people this is not always possible because of social attitudes and a lack of opportunities and facilities that prevent participation. It's your role to ensure that your sports or recreation club is inclusive and provides opportunities for everyone within your community. Our wider community is becoming more flexible and inclusive towards individuals with disabilities. As a community-based sports or recreation club, you have the ability to lead and inspire other organisations and individuals by making no exceptions.

Sport New Zealand and active children

We need our children to be more active, more often, right from the start. Sport New Zealand has a wide range of programmes and resources available for those working with primary and secondary school children. Keeping kids active and healthy is a commitment that your club can take a part in.

The three main initiatives run by Sport NZ are:

Active Movement - for children aged 0-5

Active Schools - for primary school children

Active Young People - for secondary school children.

People and partners

Good partnerships contribute to a successful club. There are many community-based groups that will be able to provide assistance and support for your club. Tapping into these resources will also ensure that the wider community is able to access your club and form partnerships with you as members and volunteers.

Local government

Find out what your local government organisations (local or district councils) are able to offer your club. Searching the internet is probably the easiest way to do this initially. A positive relationship can be established with the local council and keep them informed about your club and its needs.

Your local council:

  • can provide ongoing advice and support for your organisation - some councils have a recreation officer or community services officer appointed for this purpose
  • may have funds available to help in developing sport and recreation facilities and projects
  • may have a sport and recreation council or committee that encourages input in council sport and recreation policies and issues from sporting and community groups
  • may have a club development program to assist clubs with their management and administration.

It may be helpful for your club to nominate a person to liaise with the council. This person could organise an initial meeting to discuss how your club and the council can work together effectively. The council may also run forums and meetings of interest to your club. The easiest way to find this information is by looking on the internet.

Things you can do to establish a good relationship with your local government are:

  • get to know your council’s elected members, senior officers, and recreation and maintenance staff
  • invite council representatives to club functions to present trophies, enjoy your hospitality and, most importantly, show them appreciation for the services they provide
  • understand the problems your council is having and help them with issues that affect your club, for example, establish a joint committee to examine sports development in the district
  • offer to assist in the council's coaching and recreation programmes
  • acknowledge your council whenever you can, particularly in any public arena
  • don't complain, but rather approach problems constructively and seek 'win-win' solutions
  • encourage other community groups to take an interest in your sport by inviting them to participate in club activities
  • insist on good behaviour, both on-field and off-field, displaying good sportsmanship and avoiding bad language
  • be good neighbours and form relationships with those who use your grounds or own nearby property -complaints to the council will tarnish your image immediately
  • establish a positive public relations programme by appointing a member to liaise with the council.

Regional sports trusts and national sports organisations

Another vital partnership for your sports club will be with your local regional sports trust (RST). They will be able to provide specific information on the kind of clubs and activities that are operating in the local area. They are also able to provide resources such as information on your club's particular sport that will prove valuable for your coaches, members and management committee. National sports organisations (NSOs) and national recreational organisations (NROs) are also good resources for information about your club's sport or recreation.


For many sport and recreation clubs, local schools will be key partners in running a community-focused club. Your club can play an important part in getting kids active and contributing to their health and well-being. Parents and teachers can offer valuable volunteer assistance in running your club and coaching its members.

Great partnerships with local schools will also ensure that up-and-coming players have an established relationship with the club when they leave their school club. Here are some tips for building successful partnerships with local schools:

  • join forces with parents, teachers and coaches already involved with school sports teams
  • get to know the players within the school teams and make your club accessible to them with events such as open training sessions or guest speaker evenings
  • form an understanding with your local schools about your club - make information about it easily available through the school such as through school newsletters
  • take a lead in approaching schools and ensure you have a club member available to go out into the local school community.


The Office for Disability Issues has more information on the New Zealand Disability Strategy and its implementation.

If you require an accessible version of any content on the site please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

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