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Case Study

Bird Conservation Nepal’s Efforts on Membership Growth

Created: 2012-11-16
Author: Sushma Shrestha Language: English
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Street exhibition on the occasion of World Environment Day 2012

Bird Conservation Nepal

Bird Conservation Nepal is the leading organization in Nepal, focusing on the conservation of birds, their habitats and sites. It seeks to promote interests in birds among the general public, encourage research in birds and identify major threats to birds’ continued survival. BCN is a membership-based organization with Patrons, life members, friends of BCN and active supporters. Our membership provides strength to the society and is drawn from people of all walks of life from students, professionals and conservationists. Our members act collectively to set the organisation’s strategic agenda.

Bird Conservation Nepal is dedicated to conserve birds and biodiversity while benefiting people.


Membership growth is one of the organisational development challenges of BCN. As a membership based organisation, every year a target is set to acquire new members and retain members. It is always very challenging for us to achieve the target because of people having very limited interests and giving low priority to bird conservation. We are not able to provide tangible benefits to our members so members are not interested to renew their membership. Whenever we approach for membership, we are asked about the benefits and as very limited benefits, we are not able to convince most people. We do not have an online facility to renew membership so we lose members due to lack of this facility. Our members in the remote areas do not have e-communication facility so we are unable to update them about our activities regularly. We are also not able to deliver our quarterly newsletter to all our members in the remote areas. It is very costly to maintain and encourage membership.

Students visit our office for membership as they are interested to get the knowledge for their thesis work. After the completion of their thesis, very few renew their membership. Some of the tour guides are also interested in getting information on birds which is helpful for them for taking the tourist to birdwatching trips. Besides these groups we are not able to attract more general public members.

It is also very challenging to raise more unrestricted funds through corporate support, membership fees and sales of merchandise for financial sustainability.

What you did

We prepared a membership strategy which aims to develop a membership that enables varying levels of participation according to the needs and desires of individual members. The strategy aims to ensure a continued approach to the development of the membership numbers based on ensuring active engagement with current members and the recruitment of new members

We organised education and awareness programmes on different occasions like World Environment Day, World Wetland Day, Migratory Bird Day and Sparrow Day etc. which was very helpful in meeting our membership target. We conducted talk programs and film shows in different schools and colleges which helped to raise awareness among students. The street program on world environment day was very effective in raising awareness among the general public. Thousands of people visited our stall in the busy street of Kathmandu. We distributed our brochures and other informative leaflets of birds so that more people know about our organisation and are interested to become members and support conservation of birds.

We sent highlights of the month through e-mail to update our members about BCN activities. With this we were constantly in touch with our valuable members. We mobilised our field staff to acquire new members outside of Kathmandu valley and also to renew the membership. All BCN staff are very committed to getting new members through their personal level communications.

Every year we announce scholarship awards for university graduates who are undertaking research as partial fulfilment of their degree. This scholarship also helped to attract lot of student members, and at the same time their thesis work is also helpful for our research work.

We approached domestic airlines for a discount for all our members. We also explored other areas where we could give tangible benefits to our members.

Our yearly work plan also guided us as we review the membership target quarterly. Our strategic plan 2012-2016 is also focused on membership growth and retention policy.


The membership strategy and the education and awareness programs have been very effective for membership growth and retention. We have been able to increase more members compared to previous years.

Lessons learnt

We should adopt following strategy for membership growth.

  1. Interactive web-site: We should have  membership forms registration and online payment system for students and  general public who visit our website.
  2. Face to face: Involving volunteers to register as many persons as members
  3. Publication: Inserting the membership forms to each outgoing publication
  4. Member gets member: Members should be encouraged to get new members
  5. Public events: Besides being good to promote the organisation’s activities, organising public events is one of the most effective ways to get new members
  6. Group events: Events should be organised for certain targeted groups such as schools and colleges which have an interest in bird conservation
  7. Articles and columns in newspapers or magazines: Regular columns or articles of the organization’s activities, achievements, opinions and responses in certain leading mass media to convince members and to attract new potential members to become part of the organization’s mission and action.
  8. Collaboration with other NGOs/ institutions: Besides sharing a conservation agenda, this activity has the potential to develop membership recruitment.
  9. Media placing: To bring the organisation near to the targeted members and public (such as installing displays, putting leaflets and forms for membership etc. in public places such as supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, bookshops, airport lounges etc.)
  10. Sites project: Involve project staff and IBA local conservation groups to promote the organisation and acquire more members

Membership growth is very essential for financial sustainability and the sustainability of the organisation.

“Members are the backbone of BCN. It is always good to have bird enthusiast in our organisation because without them our conservation effort will be meaningless. Every year we get hundreds of new members but retaining them is one of the major problems faced by me in my four years tenure. But from last few years we introduced few concepts such as sending monthly highlights, interaction through BCN’s facebook, approaching corporate house for membership benefits, engaging them more in our activities etc. which helped to increase retention to some extent in this in 2011/12.” Menuka Basnyat, Membership and Education Officer

Want to find out more?

Useful resources

  • BCN’s Strategic plans
  • BCN Brochure
  • BCN website:


Sushma Shrestha – Administrative Officer ([email protected])

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