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Membership: It is Sold, Not Sought

If you're like most membership organizations, you're always looking for ways to increase membership. After all, members are the lifeblood of your organization, providing both financial support and a pool of engaged individuals who can help further your mission. But simply putting out a call for new members isn't enough. In today's competitive marketplace, you need to be able to show prospective members why your organization is worth their time, money, and effort.

Regardless of your membership dues, your organization always has to sell itself to prospective members. It is not enough to post a few pictures of your last conference or talk about how many years you've been around. You must show individuals what value they will get by investing their time and money in your association. Here are five ways you can do just that.

Think beyond the member benefits package. Sure, this is an important part of the equation, but it is not the be-all, end-all. Membership in your association should entitle members to more than just a few discounts and access to a quarterly magazine. A sale is a short-term incentive to buy. It's important to understand that businesses don't give away money. They invest in acquiring new customers and growing their revenue.

Many associations have demonstrated that a good offer in the near term benefits membership growth. The logic is simple: The more people who try your product or service, the more likely they will become long-term customers or members. And the more customers or members you have, the more revenue you'll generate. So don't be afraid to run a promotion or offer a discount. It's an investment that can pay off handsomely in the future.

There's no denying that belonging to a community comes with many perks. For starters, being a part of a group gives you a sense of belonging and purpose. It also provides an instant network of friends and colleagues who share your interests. Furthermore, membership in a community often comes with access to exclusive resources and opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise.

For example, many organizations offer members discounts on products and services, as well as access to exclusive events and networking opportunities. So, if you're looking to attract new recruits, be sure to play up the unique benefits that your community offers. Consider what unique experiences and knowledge your members gain by being a part of your community. What door does membership open for them that they would not have otherwise? Play up these aspects of your association when trying to attract new members.

Make it easy for members (and prospective members) to find out about all the great things your organization is doing. One way to do this is by using technology such as Facebook Live or Zoom webinars to broadcast events and/or educational programs that showcase the value of being an engaged member. You should also consider creating short (3-5 minute) videos that can be easily shared on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. These videos could feature current members discussing how active involvement in the organization has positively impacted their careers or personal lives.

Your website should also be used as a tool to communicate value. Beyond just listing member benefits, consider adding a blog where you regularly publish articles showcasing all the different ways members are making an impact within their chosen field or industry. You could also include an "About Us" page that tells the stories of some of your most influential and engaged members. By sharing these narratives, you give prospective members a taste of what it means to be part of your community—and what they could achieve if they decide to join.

Finally, don't forget the power of face-to-face interaction, even if it's virtual these days. Schedule regular check-ins with chapter leaders or create small networking groups where members can get to know one another and learn more about what everyone is working on professionally. You might also want to hold virtual happy hours or coffee chats where members can chat informally about common interests—all while getting to know each other better in the process. These types of events provide great opportunities for organic word-of-mouth marketing—something that is essential when it comes to growing any organization, including yours!

As associations work hard to stay relevant and engage current and prospective members, it's important to remember that membership must always be sold—not sought. By taking a proactive approach and continuously showcasing the value of belonging to your organization, you'll be able to position yourselves for long-term success!


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