How They Hacked It: Top Membership Tips of 2017

One year in, our Membership Hack column has become your weekly two-minute read for ideas for saving time, money, and other resources while delivering value to your members. Here’s a look back at some personal favorites.

Life is filled with finite opportunities, which is why we all occasionally need Life Hacks. These simple tips and tricks can boost your productivity, whether you’re cleaning your home or exercising your brain.

Likewise for the membership work done by association professionals, who have many great ideas but are bound by limitations on time, money, and other resources. This was the thinking behind my weekly Membership Hack column, which we started here at Associations Now a year ago. My aim was to share real-world ideas easy enough to implement quickly and creative enough to deliver bonuses to your members and benefits to your association.

I’m happy to report there is now an online community of membership hacktivists (check out  #MembershipHack on Twitter). One year in, here’s a recap a few of my favorite hacks—you can peruse the full collection at your leisure by scrolling through the archives.

Member recognition. Many membership hackers found opportunities to recognize members in meaningful ways. While many associations use awards programs to showcase members’ talent, success stories, and contributions, smaller acts of recognition and thanks can go a long way toward boosting morale. I loved the idea of signing and sending a gratitude book to thank dedicated members who serve as volunteers or celebrating contributors to online communities or members who have retired.

Member benefits. Benefits can be the honey that attracts members and the glue that keeps them with you. While every association has a big-picture value proposition, sometimes the little things add up. Take, for instance, the National Association of Wine Retailers, which provided members savings on FedEx shipments that can easily cover the cost of annual dues. And the National Association of State Foresters’ “look book” serves two purposes, helping to orient new members and keeping existing members in the loop with others’ names and faces.

Member dues. Dues-related incentives are a membership mainstay. A two-for-new deal helped the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits sign up new members. Meanwhile, the U.S. Personal Chef Association incentivized early renewals with a monthly contest. Some associations experimented with dues structures: A pay-what-you-can offer helped SHAPE America recruit and win back members.

Member engagement. Our membership hackers offered several examples of small ways to get members involved as volunteers. But one of the most popular engagement strategies was the Digital Analytics Association’s membership ROI scorecard. Using just an Excel spreadsheet template, DAA tracks engagement scores early in the member experience and delivers a scorecard to each member that serves as a “membership investment report” and encourages additional engagement.

A special thanks to everyone who shared a Membership Hack this year. Did you have a favorite hack or a new one to share? Post it in the comment section below, email me, or Tweet your hack using the hashtag #MembershipHack.

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Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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