Membership

5 Reasons to Be Thankful for Members

By / Nov 26, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

As Thanksgiving approaches and we contemplate that for which we are grateful, remember your members. You and your association wouldn’t be here without them!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! For your sake, I hope you’re already off work, spending time with family and friends, and dreaming about turkey. But if not, thanks for reading. In fact, “thanks” is a good theme for today.

Membership work in associations can sometimes be frustrating. Why won’t they join? Why won’t they renew on time? Why won’t they read any of the emails we send them? You’re probably not an association professional if you haven’t at least once thought, in a moment of exasperation, “Working at an association would be great if it weren’t for all these pesky members.”

Members see value in the work that your association does for their field, and their dues make that work possible.

Most of the time, though, working with members is a positive experience, and it’s unique to the association world. For-profits with customers, nonprofits with donors, and even clubs with members don’t interact with their audience the way association professionals do.

So, as we prepare for our yearly day of giving thanks, let us be thankful for association members. Here’s why:

Every year, 80 percent of members come back. That’s the rough benchmark for average renewal rates across the association industry. Members are a built-in, dedicated audience of repeat buyers that most other businesses would die for.

Members believe in your mission. While it’s crucial to provide a clear ROI for members’ dues dollars, ASAE’s Decision to Join study showed that “good-of-the-order” benefits actually slightly outweigh personal benefits in importance in members’ eyes. They see value in the work that your association does for their field, and their dues are, at least in part, a contribution to make that work possible.

Members are their own product. One of the key benefits of belonging to an association is access to all the other people who belong, whether directly through in-person events and online communities or indirectly through the knowledge and leadership that so many members share. As an association professional, the more members you can attract and engage, the better membership in your association becomes.

Members are a dedicated niche in a world of a million niches. I can speak from experience on this one: Writing about associations every day means 99.9 percent of the world doesn’t care about our content. But that other 0.1 percent, our audience of association professionals, do care, and they care a lot. Same goes for any association serving any other kind of niche field. Your members might seem weird to the rest of the world, but they’re your weirdos.

Members volunteer. Sure, you have plenty of mailbox members who mostly keep to themselves, but you also have a slew of dedicated members who give their time and energy to help make the work of the association happen. From the board of directors down to the happy-hour sign-in table workers, their contributions are irreplaceable.

Why else can we be thankful for members? Because they help you market the association. They tell you what they think about strategy. They fly in to the capital to make your case to lawmakers. They set world records. They help you innovate.

I could go on, but instead I’ll let you chime in. Why are you thankful for your associations’ members? Please share in the comments, and please have a safe and relaxing holiday!

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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