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Are You Providing Enough ROI for Your Members?

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According to Sarah Sladek from XYZ University, there are three types of associations that struggle to properly demonstrate member benefits.

In the “Scrooge” Model, the association charges for everything—there’s a fee for membership, a fee for education sessions, a fee for breakfast and lunch programs, a fee for white papers and research, publications and events.  The main concentration is on maximizing the revenue that comes in from members.

What do you do when the money runs out?

In the “Milk” Model, the organization easily demonstrates ROI on programs by offering professional development credits, certifications, and enduring content that is useful to members beyond the day of the program. But the value of membership still isn’t clear, since similar programs are often available to the general public, without paying to join an association.

How do you demonstrate the value of membership when non-members can get the same content for another $50?

The “Antique Model” describes associations that have been around forever (almost literally). They have great name recognition and brand profile in their industries, but they struggle to adapt to changes in the work force, and to deliver member ROI for newer generations.

What do you do when your brand can no longer carry you?

None of these models describes a modern association that understands its members and has a clear idea of why they join. Most members decide to affiliate because they believe the association can help them solve a problem—but to do that, you need to know what that problem really is.

Members renew because their problem has been solved, and now they feel confident that the association can keep them engaged. They feel like they belong, that their opinion matters, and that their organization would be able to help them if they had another tough question to answer.

What can your membership department do to bring your association to the next level?

To survive and thrive in an era of changing member expectations, Sladek recommends learning the three core problems that keep your members up at night. Then, in her words, blow up your member benefits.

Yes, blow them up. 

And then, regroup and create a new set of member benefits to address your members’ core problems. Create a strategic plan that addresses each issue and shows how your organization can successfully solve it.

Once the plan is in place, hold yourself accountable. Convene your team regularly to track progress. Take some time to review the plan, and see if there’ve been any changes that might shift your plan. At every step, keeping your members satisfied has to be your top priority.