The power of membership organisations
Definition: Membership organisations typically have a particular purpose, which involves connecting people together around a particular profession, industry, activity, interest, mission or geographical location. This might simply be to encourage or facilitate interaction and collaboration, but it also often involves promoting and enhancing the purpose itself. Wikipedia
Not everyone wants to be part of a membership organisation – the sense of ‘belonging’ does nothing for them. That is fine – horses-for-courses. For those who do choose to be a member of an organisation, especially a trade association or professional body (which this site mainly covers) then the message of “Stronger Together” rings out loud & clear.
Why do members join?
It is important to understand what motivates a member to join an organisation. In my experience there are five key factors:
- Networking – the opportunity to interact with and learn from others who have similar interests, concerns and challenges
- Solutions – changes are a fact of life and members expect to be kept informed of trends, challenges and opportunities which impact their profession, industry or business
- Skills – the skills members need will change, often at a rapid pace. Members expect you to help them develop new skills and update others so they can keep ahead of the demands their work makes of them
- WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) – members will constantly evaluate why they should be a member and need tangible as well as non-tangible ways to value their membership and justify the fee paid
- Belonging – being part of a community, a sense of group values, and working towards a common goal, are powerful feelings.
Understanding why members join enables you to tailor specific approaches to recruit new members. Letting members know you care about their future and give them the feeling they belong aids retention. Connecting people in your industry / profession with stakeholders provide strong relationships for mutual benefit (Read: The 3Rs of thriving membership organisations).