Spring Cleaning Ideas for Membership Pros

Get rid of that "we've always done it that way" smell with these four ideas for refreshing your association's membership tactics.

April is here. Technically, it has been spring for a couple weeks, even though it may not feel like it just yet in your part of the country. Either way, spring is a time for renewal. It’s time for shaking off the cobwebs that gathered while we hunkered down for the winter. It’s time for cleaning: your desk, your house, or even your membership practices.

If a lot of the work your association is doing in membership feels like “you’ve always done it this way,” maybe it’s time for a good spring cleaning. Here are four quick ideas for refreshing your membership tactics, with perspectives (some oldies, but goodies) borrowed from a few smart association thinkers:


“Narrow your focus of benefits! We don’t live in a, ‘throw it on the wall and see what sticks’ world anymore. It is imperative associations pick the three to five things they do better than anyone in the world, handcuff their members to it, and give them a reason to love it. MTI [Metal Treating Institute] does five things their members need, better than anyone in the world of its industry, and that members can’t do effectively on their own.”

—Tom Morrison, in “WOW … This Membership Thing Really Works!” September 27, 2011

If a lot of the work your association is doing in membership feels like “you’ve always done it this way,” maybe it’s time for a good spring cleaning.


“[I]t’s just a bill. And an impersonal one at that. No cover letter from the organization’s leadership. No images of people (not stock photography) that reinforce this is a community of like-minded colleagues. No narrative or appeal designed to renew my enthusiasm for the profession and/or the organization. The little marketing text offered seems like an afterthought, stuck on the back of the invoice page and drawing on fairly nondescript boilerplate copy. So in the end it’s just a bill. But it could be so much more.”

—Jeffrey Cufaude, in “What is it that you want to renew?” September 22, 2010


“It has been my observation that the demand for membership renewals is fairly inelastic of price. In other words, a percentage increase in dues rates generally does not translate into an equal or greater percentage drop in renewals rates. The demand for the membership holds. At least up to a point. … The bottom line—based on the the aggregate data—it appears if an organization can keep a dues increase to under 20 percent there will not be a drop in overall renewal rates. But going over a 20 percent dues increase may errode renewal numbers.”

—Tony Rossell, in “The Impact of a Membership Dues Increase on Renewal Rates,” October 20, 2011


“When it comes to data, there is a direct correlation between the quality of the data and the accuracy of the analysis. I’m no longer surprised at the high number of duplicate records, and the high percentage of incomplete, inaccurate, and inconsistent data we find when we begin to analyze an association’s data. Because it is difficult to quantify the value of data in the same way we can measure cash, buildings, and people, the activities designed to manage and protect data as an asset are often low on the priority list.”

—Debbie King, in “Cleaner Data, Better Intelligence,” February 6, 2013

What else is due for decluttering or could use a good polish at your association? If you’re in the mood for some spring cleaning, please share your ideas for refreshing your membership practices in the comments below.

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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