14 Oct 2015 Membership Engagement
Many associations can boast a membership excited by the opportunities their organization has to offer. But if membership is stagnant, or dwindling, it’s time for the Executive Director and Governing Boards to take a look at what the organization has to offer its members.
In order to feel that joining a membership or trade association is worth their time and money, a prospective member is going to take a good look at the membership benefits. What opportunities for engagement with others in my field does this organization offer? What occupational education do they gain by joining this organization? The more chances for engagement there are, the greater the chance of maintaining and increasing membership numbers.
Most associations can claim networking in the field as a membership benefit. While that is of course beneficial, members want to see that their organization is holding events on a regular basis that provide opportunities for education on a variety of topics in the field that also include a chance for networking.
If your organization has many people who are regulars at events but are not members, consider sweetening the deal for members. Hold members-only events, or make events free or discounted for members that have a cost for non-members. In the past, offering these types of events has created boosts in memberships for clients. When offering a discount for the annual conference, for example, you can expect an uptick in membership numbers surrounding that event each year.
Offer a members only section of the website. This private area would require a login and can provide opportunities to view videos, presentations, and gain access to information from past events not available in the non member section of the website. Some organizations use this area for an opt-in online membership directory- these are just some examples of perks that you can offer to members in a locked members area.
Webinars are great if you have the technological ability to offer them. A webinar is an online presentation or lecture. There are many websites that can help you set up one of these events- and while you lose the networking aspect of the event, there can be a strong educational value. By offering webinars on a regular basis, and allowing access only to members, people will have interest in the topics offered and be encouraged to sign up for membership in order to attend the event.
If your organization has an associated journal, offering a subscription to members free of charge is a great perk and offers them a regular opportunity to learn more about the field.
Committees are perhaps one of the best ways to keep members on board and engaged. By allowing those members who are looking to be more hands on to contribute to the organization, your association gains a strong volunteer base as well as a more active membership. Committees could include a membership committee, event planning committee, nominating committee, sponsorship committee, education committee, or committees that are specific to your industry. All of these committees not only engage members in an area they are interested in, but provide support to the Governing Board and management team in running the organization.
Providing occasions for increased membership involvement can only help your organization. With more events to attend, opportunities to network or learn, or even support the organization by offering a helping hand, people will only become more enthusiastic about becoming a member and staying one.