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Membership Strategy: Are You Doing All That You Can For Members?

Just about every association executive I have spoken with is always looking for a better way to sustain and increase their engagement with their members, potential members and the community at large. The bigger and newer the tool, the better in their opinion. But just because it is newer, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for your community specifically.

Just about every association executive I have spoken with is always looking for a better way to sustain and increase their engagement with their members, potential members and the community at large. The bigger and newer the tool, the better in their opinion. But just because it is newer, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for your community specifically.

There are always good intentions with their reasoning. According to Greenfield Services’ 2012 Pulse Report, 63.2% of associations said that member engagement is a top priority to work on (within the next year). It’s not as simple as you think: our research has shown that a tough road is ahead, in order to build a strong connection with the member base. Fighting the tide of low volunteer commitment, low participation on social media, events, and other non-dues purchases are examples of metrics to consider on your own levels of engagement.

The Pulse Report also found that roughly 25% of survey respondents have indicated that 75% of their members were involved with certification programs. This means that organizations who offer mandatory affiliations are “good enough” (for now) to be relevant, but for how long? One fifth of respondents say that they knew their members joined because they had to not because they want to.

No matter what the economy looks like, nobody should have to second guess a reliable source of membership and revenue. But we’re only doing part of our job if people affiliate with their associations because they have no choice, not because it’s where they want to be. And that goes back to the community-building tools that most associations are still learning how to use.

  • With the right strategy for engagement and outreach, members build their own networks and find their own ways to maximize the value they get back for their annual dues.
  • An effective social media program creates a steady flow of valuable news, information, and education, while creating pathways for members to pick the content that is most useful to them.
  • Associations already know that volunteering is a virtuous circle—the more actively members engage, the more likely they are to stay involved. By placing members themselves at the centre of your membership strategy, you can give them many more reasons to volunteer.

The 2012 Pulse Report showed that there’s a lot of work ahead for associations that want to re-envision and recreate their member relationships. But unless you’re delighted with your member engagement and revenue, this might be the right time to get started.

For more statistics, download the full report, or participate in the 2013 version to obtain the most recent stats!

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