July 28, 2014
When was the last time your association considered adding a new membership category to their roster? If your group is like most organizations, it has probably been a long time (or maybe never) since you even thought about it. But maybe you should!
Associations are learning to branch out to different areas of the industry to add value to their membership base, adding knowledge and expertise that is currently untapped. Take some time this summer to pitch the idea of one or more of these categories to your association leadership:
- Young Professional: Many associations are facing a new challenge – long-time members are moving into different positions within their companies, with less time to commit to the association, or they’re retiring (see below for more). This isn’t a bad thing, but a reminder to focus on the next generation of association members and leadership. Including these younger members on committees (maybe even their own!) and on your Board will be the key to association success in the future. Get them involved with activities that they are interested in – Annual Convention planning, technology, and social media (among others!).
- Check out this post from Meredith Taylor for more tips on adding a YoPro Committee to your association.
- Student: Similar to the YoPro category, offering a Student membership is the best way to introduce the next generation of the industry to your association. Getting them involved before they’re even technically IN the industry is a great way of showing your value. Make sure to keep the rate affordable to the student (they’ll likely be paying it on their own) and include them in events and publications where they can network and learn from your more experienced members. Hook them now and they’ll certainly return as a full-paying member when they graduate!
- Plus, introducing these up-and-comers to current members will get valuable talent into the hands of your membership – a win-win for all members.
- Consultant: Do you have members that have left their corporate position and opened shop as an industry consultant? Chances are keeping these members involved would be a great asset to your association! Keep them engaged and utilize their expertise and experience by offering low dues rate with some stipulations – in exchange for their low membership dues, they can participate on a webinar, develop a panel for your Annual Meeting, or organize a new committee.
- Retiree: Like I mentioned above, a large number of associations that were formed 20-40 years ago are now facing a crisis – their leadership is retiring! Solve this concern by creating a membership category just for them. Like with students, keep the expense low – the key is to not lose the institutional knowledge of these members. Chances are they will want to remain connected to old friends and willing to share their knowledge with the new crowd.
- Check out this post on leveraging retired members.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the categories that you could add. What about academic institutions, or a different type of vendor that works with your industry? What other new categories has your association added?