Top Tips and Tricks From 2019 Membership Hacks

In the weekly Membership Hack column, we share small ways that associations save time, money, and resources while delivering value to members. Here are some of our favorites from the past year.

If you ask an association staffer what they might want for the holiday season, I’m willing to bet they’ll tell you, “More time!”

That’s because 2019 came and went in an instant, and the simple truth is that we all are time-strapped people, which is why I love writing the weekly Membership Hack column. It’s where I share time-, money-, and resource-saving ideas from associations that others can replicate.

If your New Year’s resolution is to serve members effectively and efficiently, a quick look back at some of the top Membership Hacks of the past year might keep you motivated in 2020.

Dollars-and-Cents Incentives

Nothing speaks more to member value than showing a return on investment. I love how the American Homebrewers Association app allows members to track their discounts in real time, giving everyone a running tally on dollars and cents saved.

Other incentives can help you recruit new members. For the cost of a Starbucks latte, the International Public Safety Association attracts prospects with a limited $5 trial membership that includes partial access to member benefits and services, including selected publications and webinars and free registration to IPSA’s fall meeting.

And you can also get existing members in on a recruitment drive using referral dollars. At the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants, each referring member gets a $25 credit, which can be used to pay down next year’s dues.

Face-to-Face Engagement

Engagement can be complicated, but many associations keep it simple by facilitating in-person encounters that help members connect in small team experiences. Take, for instance, the Hotel Association of North Texas, which hosts monthly community service days that support Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity.

Another way to get members mingling might be as easy as opening up your association’s office and treating it like a coworking space. This year, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council created a flexible workspace near its Boston headquarters that members can use for impromptu meetings and large-scale events.

You can even engage members while they’re away from work. The National Association of Colleges and Employers crowdsources summer reading lists from members to keep them learning even while on vacation. A summer reading group that connects online could translate into a year-round book club that meets face to face.

Virtual Connection

For members who live and work far from each other, digital engagements like the School Nutrition Association’s virtual expo work well to connect them. And at NIGP, the Institute for Public Procurement, virtual chapters help members with similar interests from as far away as Hawaii and Alaska to network across the miles.

And if your members are short on time, consider the American Evaluation Association’s “coffee break” webinars. These online learning opportunities last just 20 minutes—about the time it takes to finish a cup of joe.


Competitive Spirit

Finally, several associations used member competitions to spur engagement this year. For example, there was a conference walking challenge, a student design-build competition, and even a membership recruitment competition for chapters. All of these added fun and excitement to member engagement.

Do you have a simple idea that’s improved recruitment, retention, or engagement experiences for your members? Post your tips and tricks in the comment thread below and I may feature your Membership Hack in the new year.

(artisteer/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

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

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!