WOSM Membership Report 2021 - Methodology



WOSM Census Data

This Membership Report focuses on four sets of official WOSM census data reported by NSOs in 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2019 as well as additional outreach and data gathering by the World Scout Bureau. If an NSO did not submit data in one or more of the four years of focus, the most recent available data were used.

Absolute Growth

Absolute growth is the increase (or decrease) in the number of members registered in an NSO. It refers, very simply, to membership numbers. It is calculated by taking the previous membership figure from the new membership figure. For this Membership Report, absolute growth is measured in five-year blocks for the 2005 to 2015 periods and four-year blocks for the 2015 - 2019 period. 

Market Share

Market Share is defined as the portion of a market controlled by a particular company or product. In WOSM this means how many young people out of the total young people eligible (between 7 and 24) are already part of the movement. 

Market Share is used to give a more accurate picture of the significance of a number of Scouts in an NSO. For example, the growth of an NSO by 200 has a larger effect in a country with 10,000 people than in an NSO in a country with 500,000 people.

Market share = Total number of members in your NSO / Youth population of your country

Market Share Data

The market share of NSOs is calculated for 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2019. The market share of NSOs was calculated using population data sourced from UN Data sets.

The percentage market share of NSOs was calculated by dividing the reported number of WOSM members by the youth population in that country and then multiplying it by one hundred. The youth population data for each country was sourced from UN Data Sets.

As was the case with WOSM Census data, when data was not available for the desired year(s), the most recent available data was used. Market shares are measured in percentages. 

Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)

The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is the mean annual growth rate of something over a specified period of time longer than one year. It is usually used in the context of financial investments but was selected for the Membership Report as a strong indicator of average annual growth over each five-year period. CAGR is calculated by dividing the end value by the previous value, then raising the result to the power of divided by the number of years, and finally subtracting from that value. CAGR is measured in percentages.

Percentage Points

When comparing percentages, such as those percentages expressed in market share, it is best practice to use percentage points (p.p.). A percentage point is a unit for the difference in number between two percentages. Where percentages measure ratios, percentage points are used to measure differences. For example, going from 10% to 12% is a 20% increase (12/10 = 1.2 = 120%) but can be expressed as a percentage point (p.p.) increase.

Additional outreach and data gathering by the World Scout Bureau

Improving the data quality and the measurement of WOSM membership is one of the key actions from the Global Growth Agenda. The official census data does not always entirely reflect the actual number of Scouts involved in the movement due to a series of circumstances often outside of the control of the NSO and WOSM. As such, the World Scout Bureau regularly conducts additional outreach and data gathering to better estimate WOSM’s membership reality.

This effort is implemented through Regional Support Centres and entails outreach to NSOs to review officially declared numbers and understand challenges faced by the NSO in measuring and declaring its full membership. These challenges can be usually categorised into three categories: 

  • membership data quality and time gap, meaning changes in the membership that occurred after the submission of the latest census of the NSO (noting several NSOs only submit their census data once every 5 or 10 years) or misunderstanding of WOSM’s census format
  • institutional restrictions, meaning that the NSO is not in a position to declare its full membership due to organisational policy 
  • underreporting, meaning that the NSO is not able to fully capture its true membership due to lack of internal reporting, political complexity, financial reasons, membership management system issues 

Additional membership identified through this effort is used only for measuring WOSM’s progress towards Vision 2023and in our global messaging on the number of Scouts worldwide. Global and regional trends, as well as for analytics, are based only on the official census submissions from NSOs. The data harvested adds significant insight to the official NSO census submission and provides a further depth of understanding used by WOSM to support NSOs in their growth efforts.


WOSM programmes often reach beyond our members and impact many adults and young people outside of Scouting. The younger group of these beneficiaries are counted towards achieving the Vision 2023 target of “enabling 100 million young people to create positive change in their communities”. Through the annual census, WOSM supports NSOs is measuring beneficiaries in the following 3 categories:

  • social beneficiaries, meaning youth living in difficult circumstances and benefiting from the activities of the NSO
  • educational beneficiaries, meaning youth participating in scouting activities but not registered with the NSO
  • humanitarian beneficiaries, meaning youth benefiting from the humanitarian activities of the NSO



Youth: The word ‘Youth’ in Scouting refers to all boys and girls involved in the Educational Programme within the Movement. The different stages of personal development determine the age sections within Scouting, which may vary according to the cultural differences and contexts in which NSOs operate although, often, the sections fall within a range between 5 and 26 years of age. The word ‘youth’ is more generic, whereas we use the term ‘young people’ when referring to the membership or the active member Scouts.

Adults:  According to the Adults in Scouting World Policy, adults, leaders of adults, and leaders are mainly volunteers although in a few cases do we have professional leaders. These adults are are responsible for Youth Programme development or implementation; responsible for supporting other adults; or responsible for supporting organisation structures.

Ages: Every Member Organization in WOSM has control over its youth programme sections and age ranges. This poses challenges when comparing data of different NSOs or compiling data from many NSOs. For this Report, ‘YouthMembers’ and ‘Adults’ are recorded as registered within each NSO.

Gender: One aspect of the WOSM’s census that is important to understand is the number of males and females recorded in NSO census data. However, WOSM did not ask NSOs to provide a breakdown of their membership by gender in 2005, so the trends related to gender are based only on census data from the year 2010 to 2019. 

A National Scout Organization (NSO) is a Scouting organization in a country or territory. Some countries have organized their National Scout Organizations as a Federation. Each component within a Federation is referred to as a National Scout Association (NSA) in these cases. A country’s National Scout Organization may or may not be recognised by WOSM. If WOSM recognizes an NSO, it is considered a Member Organization (MO). Requirements for an NSO to become a Member Organization are laid out in Article V of the WOSM Constitution (see www.scout.org/constitution).

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