Turn to Friendly Competition to Drive Affiliate Growth

Associations are turning to contests to push growth among chapters and affiliates. Learn the steps the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy took when launching its affiliate growth challenge earlier this year.

Last year, the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy was brainstorming ideas to not only grow its membership but also to recognize its affiliates and their work. AMCP had recently launched four new affiliates and wanted to put the newer groups on an equal footing with its long-established ones.

“We wanted to highlight the critical role our affiliates play as our boots-on-the-ground support for working with members,” said Susan Noell, director, member engagement and affiliates, at AMCP.

In January, AMCP launched its affiliate growth challenge. Throughout 2023, AMCP affiliates will compete against one another to bring in new members. The winner, who will be recognized at AMCP’s March 2024 affiliate officers meeting, will be the one with the largest growth percentage.

“Essentially we took a snapshot of their membership in January, and at the end of the year, we’ll recognize and award the winner with $1,000 and something even more important for our volunteer leaders—bragging rights,” Noell said.

With competition known to increase motivation and drive productivity and performance, it’s no surprise that associations are using this as a tool to encourage volunteer leaders. Although AMCP’s challenge is still ongoing, Noell shared what the group has learned so far and what other associations should consider before launching a similar initiative.

On Your Mark

Affiliates are a natural choice to present the benefits of your organization to potential members, but since they’re probably not membership experts, they’re going to need some support.

“If you create a challenge like this for affiliates, provide tools to help them share your association’s story,” Noell said. “You as the association professional are familiar with your wins and successes, so you want to give your volunteer leaders some of those stories they can carry forward and share with prospective members.”

Ther are several tools to consider. One Noell recommends is creating customized flyers about member benefits that affiliate volunteers can give to nonmembers during an event or conference. And to help affiliates connect with prospects, consider creating a social media toolkit that covers best practices or providing tip and trick from other volunteer leaders about reaching out to nonmembers.

“You also want to arm affiliates with tools to understand your membership landscape,” Noell said. “We have members in the pharmaceutical industry and members who are customers of the industry, so we created presentations for affiliates to use when meeting with both types of potential members.”

Get Set, Go

Before launching a challenge like this, Noell also suggests reaching out to affiliates to get a sense of what they value. That will help to determine good incentives for the competition and what else they need to make it a successful program.

“They may be looking for a monetary incentive, increased awareness, bragging rights—or all three,” Noell said. “If your association doesn’t have the budget for a monetary prize, consider offering leadership training as the prize for the affiliate with the most growth. There are a lot of different types of incentives; you just need to know what members want.”

At the end of the challenge, reach out to participants to learn their major takeaways from the experience and how to improve the program for the next year.

“Though we don’t have metrics yet for this program, we anticipate that this challenge will be a win-win,” Noell said. “Not only is our association recognizing our affiliates for their work among their peers, but also there’s a lot of relationship-building and recognition among the affiliates themselves. We think competition can be very helpful in terms of impacting growth.”

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Hannah Carvalho

By Hannah Carvalho

Hannah Carvalho is Senior Editor at Associations Now. MORE

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