Membership Is Everybody’s Business

Membership is what’s on everybody’s mind today, as is -- “How do we keep growing in these uncertain times?”

What is your organization doing to continue growth during the challenging months ahead?

My new pitch – “Membership is everybody’s business!”

I recently participated in a session on “Driving Change in Membership Services.” With fiscal year-end upon us, now is the time to review your organization's activities to ensure you are doing everything possible get back on the track of continued growth many of us experienced in the 80’s and 90’s.

General Themes

Membership is a labor-intensive activity. I would suggest the day of the phrase “build it and they will come” no longer applies. How about these phrases (sound familiar): “Where’s the beef” – “Show me the money” – and today I hear “What’s the value of membership.” As membership organizations, we must always be prepared to answer that fundamental question.

Membership is everybody’s business. We must remember that a bigger membership base means more book sales, program registrations and potential advertising dollars that the entire organization will benefit from – not just the membership department. All staff and all volunteers need to know the importance of membership and the key role they can play in influencing that process.

Continue to be innovative while still delivering the goods! I’m reminded by a book I read written by Anthony Bourdain titled Kitchen Confidential. In it he gives an analogy on why people continue to go to the same restaurants and purchase the same meals over long periods of time. They do it because they know they can expect the same quality of a specific dish on any day of the week or week of the year.

What’s Driving Change in Membership

There’s no question the past 12 to 18 months have created challenging times for all of us. Budget cuts, staff cuts and doing more with less are just three internal factors we're are dealing with everyday as we continue to deliver value to our members. Once you add the economy, the Internet and competition (sometimes from our own members) as three external factors we face, it’s no wonder recruiting new members is getting tougher and tougher each year.

When organizations and companies are affected by the economy, memberships are one of the first things that get reviewed, which leads to one of the most important equations membership professionals face today. Showing the value of membership! I’m sure you’ve read or heard that phrase before. Putting an actual dollar figure next to each could be problematic, but the following equation is what I suspect many of our members are calculating in their heads during invoice time:

Benefits - Costs = Value

An Eye Towards The Future

The future looks bright! It was reassuring speaking with many of my colleagues with all the creative membership campaigns being done in the membership arena. Now may be the time to look at that new class of membership your Board was thinking about creating to grow membership over the past couple of years (students, global, retired, etc.).

Members want a place they can call home - deliver the value – that’s our job!