Beth Wallace, administrative manager
An association is nothing without their members; members need an association to reach their goals efficiently and effectively. Put the two together and you have a dynamic duo! After working in membership for almost a year with IMI, I have learned a few things.
1. Make Members Happy
While working with our Assistant Executive Director, who has many years of experience with membership, I have learned that caring for members and making sure they are happy is very important.
A few examples of what that practically would look like is, if our quarterly magazine didn’t arrive to their house for some reason, we make sure to re-send it again, just in case the postal service lost it. If a previous member didn’t renew due to major difficulties that arose during their membership year, it is a good idea to compensate them for another membership year. It is up to you to show the association values them as an individual member and to prove how valuable your association can be to them.
2. Retention, Recruitment, Engagement
Retention, recruitment, and engagement are the three words that establish the foundation of membership. Retention is getting members to return as member again the next year. We want to keep members coming back and sharing about the value of the association to non-members.
Recruiting members allows the association to grow and thrive off of more skills and talents to live out their mission and reach new goals. Whether it is through the testimony of current members or by providing incentives, such as free webinars, you need to draw people in to see what else you have to offer. Monthly tracking of your members by category type and where they are located are great ways of determining where you need to improve recruitment and how you can draw those members in.
Engaging members through the association benefits will circle back to retention. The more that members feel engaged and active in the association, the more likely they will renew when their membership expires. Some ways to inspire engagement:
– Start discussions on social media about current topics in the field
– Highlight membership benefits weekly/monthly as a reminder
– Conduct surveys to see what benefits interest your members the most
3. Growth & Change
Growth and change are two words that can either strike fear into the hearts or bring pure excitement to the minds of members. I admit that I can get stuck in my old ways and think they are the best and most efficient way of going about life. This can be the case for long standing members of an association, too. Change causes fear of the unknown and uncertainty of how things will work out. For new or potential members, change means more information or tools that are applicable to them.
During my time with this association, our new membership year in 2014 made a huge impact. We revamped the benefits and the look of our membership retention and recruitment pieces. New members and individuals were full of praise for the new “more professional” look. However, with new things comes some resistance. Some were hesitant to the new ideas coming about in the association. This is to be expected and is to be handled with care. When members resist changes, we have an excellent opportunity to reach out and build a relationship by sharing an explanation of why the association made these changes. I believe by responding that way, with care and transparency, we gained trust with our members.