How Groups Can Attract New Audiences With Joint Membership Initiatives
Since 2020, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association has collaborated with collegiate and high school coaching associations nationwide on joint membership initiatives. These efforts not only provide benefits to more members but also help participating associations grow membership and build awareness.
Over the years, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association has successfully recruited collegiate-level softball coaches as members but has had more difficulty growing membership among high school coaches.
“Our members are softball coaches of all levels from youth T-ball coaches to professional softball coaches,” said Saralyn Campbell, NFCA marketing manager. “Since there are so many high schools across the country, there are probably thousands of potential members out there who don’t know about us.”
To bring more high school coaches into the fold, NFCA launched a joint membership initiative last year with the Missouri High School Fastpitch Coaches Association. As part of their dues, MHSFCA members also receive a membership with the NFCA. Additionally, any member who participates in the initiative receives an educational softball video bundle package of their choice.
“Typically, high school coaches pay for their memberships out of pocket,” said NFCA Director of Membership Paula Blumenshein. “Many high schools will pay state association dues, so when both are combined into one payment, schools are more likely to cover the full expense, which makes things easier for our members.”
While these programs give more coaches access to NFCA’s benefits and allow participating associations to grow their membership, NFCA has gained other takeaways from developing these offerings.
Gains Across the Board
Since each association has different priorities, it’s important to work with partner organizations to ensure that everyone’s needs and expectations are met.
“We accommodate the associations we partner with,” Blumenshein said. “One of the things we offer is individualization, so organizations can choose the month that works best for them [to start membership] and the right member package.”
These initiatives also have big benefits for the new members. According to Campbell, members who were already invested in their state organization can ramp up their involvement on the national level.
“They’re essentially getting double the number of benefits,” she said. “Some of the high school and state associations have their own education and awards programs, so now they’re getting access to national awards, which helps their programs and publicity. It also helps spreads the word about us to more potential members.”
For instance, before its first joint membership initiative with the National Junior College Athletic Association in 2020, NFCA had 269 members from NJCAA. That number has jumped to 367. And since its most recent initiative with MHSFCA, the number of their members in NFCA grew from 30 to 135.
To launch a successful joint membership initiative, Blumenshein recommends finding active members who are invested in both your association and the organization you’re looking to attract. NFCA has a member committee of over 20 high school coaches who help the association connect with state-level groups.
“Our first collaboration with NJCAA in 2020 was spearheaded by an NFCA member who was on the board of both organizations,” Blumenshein said. “Vested members are the greatest asset; that’s what has worked out well for us. Seek out the members who can bridge that gap to make these connections happen.”