Recruitment, Engagement, and Nondues Revenue, All at Once

The U.K.'s Crime Writers' Association offers a critique service that earns revenue while developing future members.

Most associations have found a few ways to turn the collective expertise of their members into revenue drivers. Think expert-led publications, professional development courses, and so on. But how many are able to use their members’ expertise to generate new potential members?

The critique service is a win/win for both authors at large and those within the Crime Writers’ Association.

Enter the Crime Writers’ Association and its manuscript assessment service. Aspiring crime fiction authors can submit a manuscript to the United Kingdom-based CWA and receive a detailed written critque within a few weeks from one of CWA’s members.

Membership in CWA requires having published a crime or thriller novel, so the critque service offers the proven expertise of its members to help aspiring authors along the road to successfully publishing a novel. The service is a source of direct revenue for the association—the service costs £100 or £350, depending on manuscript length—but it is also an investment in the association’s future. For each hopeful writer CWA assists that eventually reaches publication, it gains a new person eligible for membership.

Claire McGowan is CWA’s first paid staff director and a published author herself. She says the service is a win/win for both authors at large and those within CWA: “The idea came because we’re often asked for advice on getting published, but, as an association for existing published authors, we weren’t able to help. We saw it as a chance to raise our profile and also generate revenue for the organisation and for members, who receive a proportion of the fee for doing the critiques. It’s gone well so far.”

It’s easy to look at member recuitment, member engagement, and nondues revenue generation as separate, distinct efforts, but CWA’s critique service is a nice example of rolling them all into one.

I can see a similar model working for other associatons, as well, particularly ones looking to better assist in the career development of student or young-professional members. If you have examples from other associations putting their members’ expertise to work in developing potential members, please share.

(photo by Nic's events/Flickr)

Joe Rominiecki

By Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications at the Entomological Society of America, is a former senior editor at Associations Now. MORE

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