Trade unions are only as strong as their membership

DateMarch 2023

There’s certainly no shortage of proverbs, cliches, and sayings involving the words ‘strength’ and ‘numbers’ – the internet is awash with them.

From united we stand, divided we fall and many hands make light work, there is more strength in groups than individuals, and it’s generally accepted that when it comes to a collective force, having more is much better than having less.

As the architects of the UK’s leading membership management system, and the only certified Microsoft Dynamics 365 ISV partner, we’re all too familiar with not just this sentiment, but also the practical aspects of serving and engaging with a large (and often interconnected) slice of society.

And when it comes to membership management, so too are trade unions.

The return of the trade union

An article in The Guardian reported that UK membership increased for the fourth year in a row in 2020, with 118,000 new members joining a trade union that year. Whilst figures released in 2022 suggest that trade union membership dipped in 2021, much of it was attributable to the number of public employees leaving the workforce*.

What 2022 looks like in terms of official government statistics remains to be seen, but we expect it to show a rise in trade union membership, particularly given how 2022 was the year that saw multiple waves of strikes from multiple trade unions in response to the growing cost of living. Tribune magazine even dubbed 2022 as ‘the year trade unions came back’.

As a provider of membership CRM for trade unions – and supplier to some of the UK’s most prominent trade unions – we know that the level of communication with members that took place in 2022, and that we are still seeing this year, would not be possible without having an effective trade union membership management system in place, as outlined in an earlier blog, on building trade union value via resilient digital-infrastructures.

The benefits of member CRM for trade unions

Perhaps the biggest benefit of membership management systems for trade unions is the ability to communicate at scale – a function which, for example, when coordinating industrial action, is critical.

But it’s not just coordinating a large group of people that’s important. Informing, educating, and advising members are all essential components of membership management, too.

And when you consider how the UK’s largest union has over 1.3 million members, mass communication is simply not something that can be achieved manually; especially when communications campaigns of the 21st century contain multiple elements and follow-ups, many of which are highly personalised. This would be too much to manage without trade union CRM. Imagine the postage costs alone!

Strength in numbers is a saying that applies wholeheartedly to trade unions. But an organisation with millions of members is of little use if there’s no way in which to quickly and efficiently reach them. Membership management systems for trade unions are the only practical solution.

Trade unions really are only as strong as the members, and a good member is an engaged member. As more unions seek to engage their membership or core issues such as pay, we expect demand for the trade union membership management system to increase over the course of the next few years.

Are you a trade union looking to maximise your digital footprint, boost efficiencies and decrease administration costs? If so, contact our membership management system specialists at 01483 409409 or email

*Trade Union Membership, UK 1995-2021: Statistical Bulletin



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