WOSM Membership Report 2021 - Trends and Analysis

Global Trends

Here you can explore the trends and analysis of the WOSM membership. Key trends are identified through review and analysis of global census data for the years 2010, 2015, and 2019.

WOSM is growing! While NSOs and Scout Regions show different national and regional trends, based on the data available we can conclude that WOSM’s membership has increased by 12% in the last 4 years. 


In 2014 WOSM set an ambitious vision of enabling 100 million young people to be active citizens by creating positive change in their communities. World Scouting has worked intensively in the last triennium on improving the measurements of our members and, for the first time, of our beneficiaries. With beneficiaries, we mean those individuals who are not registered as a Scout member but are positively impacted by Scouting’s programme in their community.  

Starting in 2019, we asked National Scout Organizations to measure through the annual census their beneficiaries in 3 categories:

  • Social beneficiary - Youth living in difficult circumstances and benefiting from Scouting
  • Educational beneficiary - Youth Participating in scouting activities but not registered with WOSM
  • Humanitarian beneficiary - Youth benefiting from the humanitarian actions of Scouting

Young people within these beneficiaries are counted towards the Vision 2023 goal of “enabling 100 million young people to be part of creating positive changes in their communities”. 



In 2020, The NSO Data Portal was launched enabling WOSM to significantly improve the quality of our data. After active outreach to our Member Organisations we received 2019 census data from more than 70% of all NSO’s compared to an average of 35% in the previous years. For the first time, WOSM was able to access more detailed insights on its beneficiaries with data received in this area from 53 NSOs.

The NSO Data Portal, paired with additional outreach and data gathering by the World Scout Bureau enables WOSM to provide a more detailed insight into our progress towards Vision 2023.


In order to measure our progress towards achieving our bold, shared Vision 2023, it was broken down into four components, or 16 meta-indicators. One of these four growth meta-indicators refers specifically to “Increasing our global market share by 2%”.


As of 31 December 2019 based on the official census and additional data gathering by the World Scout Bureau, we have an informed estimate which sets the number of Scouts that are a member of a WOSM NSO at 57,239,362.  The average market share percentage of young people aged between 6 and 24 years involved in Scouting in a country where WOSM has an NSO is currently 3.16%.  


Since 2015, WOSM has increased its global market share by 0,9%. With WOSM’s current growth rate of 12% for the period of 2015 - 2019, this brings us closer to our goal of impacting 100 million young people. However, it is clear that with the impact of the pandemic significant further work is required in a number of areas to ensure achieving our growth ambition of sustained and sustainable growth, including: 

  • Developing and sharing best practices in the recruitment and retention of members and adult volunteers
  • The continuous reviewing and improvement of our youth programme, ensuring it remains attractive and relevant, answering to the needs and interests of young people
  • Increasing our capacity to diversify our membership by reaching out and bring Scouting to new communities

Collecting more data on our beneficiaries over the next 3 years will strengthen our understanding of the number and the nature of our beneficiaries, enabling us to better support their development. In the infographics below, you can find specific trends and data on the WOSM membership growth over the past 14 years. 

Looking at absolute growth data we can determine that WOSM’s membership is continuing a stable growth trend. Before the pandemic, on average 1.2 million new members were joining our movement every year. With an improved measurement of our members and beneficiaries, we can see that WOSM has impacted at least 69 million individuals in 2019. 



Key Findings


  • WOSM’s membership has grown by 12% in the period of 2015 - 2019, accelerating from the slower rate of growth of 9.6% during the period of 2010 - 2015.
  • In the 2015-2019 period, 49% of all new members were female. This is an increase of 17% over 2010-2015; compared to an 8% increase in growth rate for the male members.
  • Whilst we saw a drop in male adult volunteers, -8% from 2015, the total number of adults increased by 9%. The growth of new female adults at +48% is responsible for the total growth of adults in the last 4 years.  Our overall gender balance continues to improve and today 38% of adult volunteers are female. 
  • Our Market Share data shows that WOSM is successfully sustaining and growing its global market share at +0.90% as a direct result of the accelerated absolute growth in the last 4 years. 

National Growth Strategies

The second of the four meta-indicators focuses to support 20% of our NSOs in diversifying their membership by reaching out and engaging with communities where Scouting has not existed before. 

In the last 4 years, several initiatives were developed and implemented to ensure NSOs are supported in the development of growth national strategies, diversifying their membership, and reaching to new communities. 

  • A dedicated growth Service was developed and WOSM consultants trained, featuring support in the areas of Developing a National Growth Strategy, Membership Recruitment, Retention, Networking for Growth, and Membership Management Systems.  
  • 30 NSOs with the highest growth potential were targeted to develop a national growth strategy and accelerate their membership growth.



WOSM has witnessed continuous and increasing membership growth between 2015 and 2019. Youth members’ growth is balanced across both genders, with 14% growth of female youth members and 10% growth of male members since 2015. The gender balance of WOSM improved from 35% to 37% during this reporting period.


#1: We are gaining more youth members than adults. In the last 4 years, WOSM lost -8% of its male adult volunteers. This decline is mainly attributable to one NSO and showcases the major impact large membership NSOs can have on our overall trends. On a positive note, this loss of male adults was offsetted by a +48% increase in female adult volunteers.  

#2: Trends in market share show that WOSM is catching up with the growth of the youth population in the communities we serve. 70 NSOs (40% of all NSOs) report a market share of more than 1% compared to just 60 NSOs (35%) in 2015. However, still, 72 NSO’s (42% of all NSOs) report a market share of less than 0,5%.  This also indicates a huge potential and opportunity to reach out to more young people and strengthen our impact.

#3: A number of challenges have been identified with membership reporting at the NSO level, in particular related to a lack of consistent reporting of membership data. This includes:

  • NSOs which only report membership data once in twenty years (leading to static charts), or
  • those who only report once every few years (leading to significant bumps). 
  • In addition, we noted anomalies such as NSOs suddenly “losing” all their female members, or stopping to report adults in their membership data. 


The NSO Data Portal and the additional outreach and data gathering by the World Scout Bureau enable WOSM to partly overcome these challenges, but more compliance by NSOs is required to ensure a solid understanding of our membership trends. The data in this report is showing a renewed momentum for Scouting’s growth. World Scouting, through the World Scout Bureau, the Regions and its volunteers around the world are committed to supporting NSOs in their expansion of the Scout Movement. Do not hesitate to reach out to us with any challenges or support you require.

Call for Action

The achievements highlighted in this report are thanks to the hard work of our National Scout Organisations and millions of Adult volunteers in local Scout Groups. Growth happens at the local level, and thanks to the continuous and hard work of National Scout Organisations such achievements are possible. Over the last triennium, WOSM has put in place a significant number of new growth & retention resources and a dedicated team of volunteers and staff to support NSOs in their growth journey.

The pandemic once again demonstrated how important Scouting is.  Today, more than ever, the world needs more Scouts. Young people who are empowered and equipped with our values and skills gained through Scouting are a much-needed force of positive change. It is therefore critical that we work together to ensure every young person is offered the opportunity to join our Movement. Scouting’s impact and potential for good increase with every young person that we can help develop.

Join us!  If you would like to receive support to help your NSO grow, please request a Growth Service through the WOSM Services platform or contact us directly via growth@scout.org 

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