Working towards an improved Fellowship experience - RSA

Working towards an improved Fellowship experience


  • Picture of Lucy Griffiths FRSA
    Lucy Griffiths FRSA
    Writer, Designer, Educator, Fellowship Councillor (CLD)
  • Fellowship
  • Fellowship in Action

The RSA is committed to growing and supporting a more satisfied, engaged, and diverse Fellowship who will in turn make an impact in their communities around the world. With this in mind, and with Fellows’ support, earlier this year we embarked on the Fellowship Roadmap project, with a view to moving away from a “one size fits all” approach to Fellowship and refining the Fellowship offer to ensure that it is inclusive, impactful, and engaging.

The Fellowship Roadmap project commenced in March 2020, led by an external partner, Membership Matters, with the aim of better understanding the RSA Fellowship’s needs and working to developing the Fellowship offer to ensure that it puts Fellows at the heart of our work.

The key aims of this project are to develop:

  • A global Fellowship offer that is both connected to the RSA’s programmes of work and able to support and encourage activity that increases our collective impact;  
  • An engaged and active Fellowship community that can communicate autonomously and collaborate Fellow-to-Fellow;  
  • A growing, more satisfied, engaged, and diverse Fellowship supported by the RSA to make an impact in their communities and around the world. 

The project has used an agile and integrated approach to identify the needs and expectations of current and potential Fellows, understand their primary modes of engagement with the RSA, and highlight barriers to joining, engagement, and impact. The work so far has included:

Extensive consultation

Membership Matters facilitated discovery workshops with a broad group of internal and external stakeholders in March and April, to assess our capacity to deliver our global Fellowship Offer. These consultations involved Trustees, Fellowship Councillors, the Life Fellow Convenor, staff, and Global Fellows.

A Fellowship survey

The Fellowship survey was live from the 27th of April to the 15th of May and was completed by 10,518 respondents including 7,524 Fellows, 2556 non-Fellows, and 438 ex-Fellows.

The questions covered the following: 

  • Perception of the RSA’s mission, values, and work 
  • Fellows’ relationships with the RSA 
  • Awareness and access to benefits and events 
  • Expectations and reality
  • Career and interests of audience groups 
  • Feedback on the RSA’s programmes of work
  • Demographic information 

The resulting quantitative and qualitative data provided insights about the make-up of the Fellowship and the needs and wants of current and prospective Fellows. The Fellowship Roadmap survey also contained detailed demographic questions, including questions about ethnicity, allowing us to report on the ethnic diversity of the Fellowship for the first time – a key factor for the organisation in understanding how we can improve equity, diversity, and inclusion within the Fellowship.

Focus groups and structured workshops

We then held focus groups with current Fellows and non-Fellows to further validate and understand the data from the Fellowship Survey, enabling us to deepen our insights and identify barriers to joining the Fellowship and engaging with our work. To ensure we were hearing a wide range of voices, we ran diverse focus groups that included a greater proportion of women, BAME participants, people with disabilities, Fellows from the UK’s regions, Fellows from outside the UK, and Fellows from age groups currently underrepresented in the Fellowship.

Segmentation and journey-mapping sessions

Thedata analysis has enabled us to identify groups of Fellows who have differing needs and wants from the Fellowship. We used this analysis to map out member-journeys for each group, which helped us to identify pain points, barriers, and opportunities for improvement.

Project alignment interviews

Consultations with RSA staff from across the organisation, and participative feedback sessions with key internal stakeholders including Fellowship Councillors and Trustees will ensure the sustainability and long-term alignment of this work.

Next steps

We are currently awaiting the final report from the project which will contain the data analysis and both strategic and tactical recommendations. This report will enable us to develop a Fellowship strategy and actionable work plans. 

The Fellowship Roadmap is just one step in the process of improving the Fellowship offer and journey and is integrated with RSA’s Marketing, Digital, and DE&I strategies, and the work of the Fellowship Council which all contribute to the overall Fellowship experience. We’ll continue to update Fellows on progress as the project progresses into actionable strategies to improve the Fellow experience.

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