4. Membership, partnership structure & engagement

Section 4 of the GFMD 2021-2025 draft strategic plan.

A significant challenge that GFMD faces has been the lack of a robust strategy to help guide our membership activities, specific engagement with existing members as well as the process of membership recruitment.

GFMD’s membership strategy should reflect and complement its overall strategy.

The original overall strategy to date (including the 2018-2020 strategy) has only minimally addressed our plan for membership engagement due to a host of factors and limitations.

Instead, our membership strategy has largely been donor-driven – i.e., it has reflected donor priorities, such as expanding membership within the Global South and basing the metrics of both progress and engagement mainly on quantitative means such as the number of new members in a specific period.

Right now, we have an opportune moment to revamp our membership engagement and ensure it along with the new member recruitment process is flexible enough to accommodate the multiple communities we engage with.

Here are the key goals related to GFMD’s membership strategy for the period 2021-2025:

1. Clarify the membership process and eligibility criteria for becoming a member of GFMD by simplifying our membership tiers

Currently, our membership tiers (general and associate) are too broad to fully capture the richness of the journalism support, media development, press freedom, digital rights, and democratisation sectors. It also means that we miss out on incorporating various organisations into our work and potential membership revenue.

An additional complication is that we face problems with adding individuals as members due to the limitations of our current membership structure.

Our membership tiers should also help us identify the type of organisation within that tier i.e. international, regional, etc. This process of simplification would also mean that we personalise each membership application process depending on the relevant tiers (having specific membership application questions for each membership type).

2. Update the membership tiers at our 2021 General Assembly.

In a similar vein to goal 1, the 2021 General Assembly will be a key moment in updating and announcing our membership tiers, which ultimately require approval from both the Steering Committee and the wider membership as it would require an amendment to the GFMD Constitution.

Updating the Constitution with clear membership criteria for eligibility based on tiers, which would automatically be assigned when an organisation applies for membership will make the onboarding process both easier and more transparent.

3. Automate as much of that new member onboarding process as possible.

Our new member process is inconsistent, and solely based on the Secretariat’s availability to perform due diligence.

It is also open to practically any organisation, which means there are varying degrees of familiarity with the applicants, little oversight of the process, and many difficulties in verifying the veracity of such organisations.

The Secretariat could review the current membership onboarding process as a starting point.

There should be different levels of membership onboarding identified; an onboarding list for those waiting to be approved for membership and those recently approved for membership.

4. Focus less on quantitative growth, and more on ensuring different communities we engage with can find space within our membership.

In addition to making joining GFMD easier and more streamlined, we should also prioritise ensuring our services are in line with member expectations and needs, as well as create space so that our partners, affiliate networks, and the partners of our existing members can join GFMD, especially if financial constraints prevent them from fully engaging.

Through the results from GFMD’s 2021 Network Analysis Survey of Members, we will be able to identify some of these areas of improvement to improve the value of our network.

Membership strategy 2021 to 2025

We envision our membership process evolving drastically from the current model, which involves filling out a form and an inconsistent due diligence process conducted by the GFMD Secretariat.

By updating our membership tiers, GFMD will be able to define what our members will receive, how it will be delivered, and what type of payment is required.

We are currently exploring how to make these tiers more relevant to the changing landscape of our sector via our new strategy.

Please note: Any formal change to our membership structure needs to be first approved by the General Assembly.

Membership tiers


Interest from organisations that want to join GFMD continues to grow.

Expanding GFMD's network is also part of the proposed 2021 - 2025 Strategy.

To accommodate an expansion of our network (and to avoid placing a greater strain on our already limited and overstretched resources) the GFMD Secretariat will need adequate financial support in the form of;

  • a reconfigured membership fee structure (which incentivises new members while still meeting the needs of the existing membership);


  • sponsorship for some members paid for by a larger organisation;

The current structure of GFMD Membership fees:

GFMD membership fees are currently based on

  1. The type of the organisation

  2. An organisation’s annual turnover

It ranges from US$200 to US$15,000 at the level of around 0.1% of annual turnover.

Annual turnover

GFMD General Membership Fee

> US$ 15,000,000

US$ 15,000

> US$ 10,000,000

US$ 10,000

> US$ 5,000,000

US$ 5,000

> US$ 3,000,000

US$ 3,000

> US$ 1,000,000

US$ 1,000

> US$ 500,000

US$ 500

Base fee

US$ 200

General Members - proposed GFMD Membership fee

Instead of annual turnover, the Secretariat proposes that General Membership fees are determined by

  1. The number of employees they have.

  2. The category of organisation they fall into.

As the GFMD is registered in Brussels the Secretariat also proposes that fees are listed in Euros rather than USD.

With the new membership structure, GFMD will work on implementing a more thorough membership fee requirement.

Size org.








National & regional media development organisations




Topical, freedom of expression, networks (national, regional, and global)




Global media development organisations




General members:

Are journalism support and media development organisations.

Have access to all existing services (members-only mailing list; working groups; town halls; GFMD IMPACT, up-to-date fundraising guide.

Pay a fee according to the categories above.

Have the right to

  • Vote at GFMD's General Assembly.

  • Stand for election to the GFMD Steering Committee.

Affiliate Members - proposed GFMD fee and rights

Are non-profit journalism organisations & media (up to 250 employees).

Have access to all existing services (members-only mailing list; working groups; town halls; GFMD IMPACT, up-to-date fundraising guide)

Pay a flat fee of €50 or are sponsored by the organisation that reccomends them.

Do not have the right to vote at GFMD's General Assembly or stand for election to the GFMD Steering Committee.


As a number of smaller media outlets that we are unfamiliar with apply to join GFMD, it would greatly assist the Secretariat to

  • know if they are already connected to at least one member of our network.

  • Be able to place non-profit journalism organisations & media (up to 250 employees) in this dedicated category

Not only will this help maintain the integrity and prestige of our network and further reinforce existing connections and partnerships, but also help us hold our members accountable and ensure genuine involvement in our work.


This draft strategic plan will be presented for discussion at a special session of the GFMD General Assembly on 1 October 2021. For more details and to find out how to participate see:

page1 October 2021

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