Engaging your association's membership

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If you ask any industry association staff or board member one of the key challenges facing their organization today, you’ll likely hear lack of membership engagement. Whether you are reading this as a volunteer or paid staff member involved in one of our industry’s many fine associations, you have likely seen a decline in engagement as well as overall membership numbers.  Or have you?

I recently attended the Association Laboratory conference on membership engagement and one of the key takeaways for me was that associations are still a viable part of our economy, industry and professional development. Although we often hear how associations are slowly dying out as people just don’t want to join any more, the statistics don’t support this theory.  Approximately 46 percent of associations reported membership growth, albeit small, in 2017. But what about engagement? How active are those members? One common comment I hear is that the younger members may join, but they simply aren’t engaged. What has become clear to me is that they very well may be, or they think they are engaged, but many of us are defining engagement based on how we have interacted with our association over the years.  How and when members participate may look very different today, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged. It’s time for a new definition of engagement. 

In many cases, we are drowning our market with too many touchpoints or not the right ones in our efforts to engage. Approximately 86 percent of consumers today are willing to pay more if they can get a better user experience. Talking louder and sending yet another email may not be the solution. Maybe explore social, video or even picking up the old-fashion phone to build engagement.  

Building on almost three decades of experience helping associations develop and implement their strategy as well as respond to changing market forces, the AOE team is well poised to help you cut through the noise and define what engagement really looks like for your organization. Give us a call today to brainstorm ideas.


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