World Heritage UK: Strategic Membership Review & Audience Research

World Heritage UK (WHUK) is a registered charity and community-led membership organisation which represents the UK’s Collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including global icons the Giant’s Causeway and Tower of London. In June 2022, Blue Sail was commissioned to undertake a strategic membership review for WHUK to identify opportunities for reaching new audiences and thus amplify the organisation's impact.

The UK’s World Heritage Sites are places of unique natural or cultural significance which provide socio-economic benefits to the local communities who host them, make a prominent contribution to tourism and play a key role in promoting the UK’s cultural standing globally.

WHUK works with and on behalf of the UK’s World Heritage Sites to provide advocacy, networking and learning, and to promote the concept of World Heritage to preserve these sites for future generations.  WHUK wanted to reach new audiences to grow its membership base and increase the impact it delivers for UK World Heritage Sites.

To provide strategic direction, our project took a two-stage approach.  A market review combined with qualitative research at stage one revealed new prospect audiences for WHUK and, by providing an in-depth understanding of their needs and motivations, identified priority areas for developing the membership proposition to broaden the charity’s appeal and relevance.

Based on the evidence gathered, we then developed a range of membership concepts to test which new features would be most attractive to prospect audiences.  This research also enabled us to identify the most effective combination of membership benefits to encourage sign-up, the optimal price point for different tiers of membership and which marketing messages inspired the strongest call to action.

As part of the work we highlighted opportunities not just for the acquisition of new members but also delivered guidance on how to retain them over the longer term in order to support the sustainable growth of the charity.

Findings from our membership review have been used by WHUK to inform business planning, new product development and marketing activity.

Photo credits

List image – Blaenavon Ironworks. Crown Copyright, VisitWales

Above – Giant’s Causeway. Sean Kuriyan on Unsplash


Tower of London.  Photo credit: Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

Edinburgh. Dive. In Life on Unsplash


The UK is responsible for 33 of the 1,200 World Heritage Sites designated by UNESCO worldwide