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Boosting Membership Retention from the Start: Your Members’ First 3 Months

Does membership retention really begin the second a member joins your association?

It should! The better you onboard, the more likely your members are to renew.

So the question then becomes...how do you effectively onboard your new members? What should you be doing in their first few months? Here’s a breakdown:

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2018 Topics: Association Industry Predictions From Seasoned Pros

Posted by Colleen Bottorff

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To kick off the new year, we asked a couple of association industry professionals about what they see coming for the industry in 2018 - and I have to say, it’s pretty thought-provoking stuff!

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have thoughts on other topics? Let us know in the comments!

Lowell Aplebaum, CAE - CEO and Strategy Catalyst of Vista Cova

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Associations will begin to see the “member” definition evolve as they continue to recognize that the annual dues transaction is only one step along a pathway of overall belonging. Active contributors on social media, those that attend events and volunteer but have not yet joined, those whose thought leadership instructs and guides - whether or not they’ve paid dues yet, these individuals are a part of the community. As being a member becomes more about a feeling of belonging, the payment of dues will be an important, but singular, step along a much richer path of engagement.

Next, if our associations are going to develop the capacity to be nimble in how they face inevitable disruptions without being thrown off their strategic path, there is going to have be a universal effort from members, volunteers, staff, and partners alike to incorporate the association's vision into everyday language. In doing so, when the need to pivot arises, the response evaluation will not only focus on what is currently on the operational docket but will focus on the higher purpose.

And, this one probably doesn't surprise anyone involved in the learning arena: we’re going to see a shift away from passive learning models. For years associations have seen increasing competition in the virtual learning space - particularly in webinars with a minimum of interaction opportunities. If organizations want to see virtual learning as a means to make impact on budget as well as on mission, they will have to explore and pilot models that involve the learner interacting with the speaker, the material, and each other - even if that is in a virtual setting.

Gabriel Eckert, CAE - Executive Director of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Georgia, Co-Author of From Insight to Action: Six New Ways to Think, Lead and Achieve

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One big thing the association industry will see this year is an increase of micro-volunteering opportunities - meaning, the opportunity to volunteer to help with a specific task on a singular basis or for a short period of time. This will give people opportunities to engage in ways that fit their time availability, skill set, and interest. I foresee many associations moving away from a model where most of what we ask for is a year-long commitments to serve on committees.

There will also be a concerted effort to increase the speed of decision making. As it stands now, most associations have many levels of approval to go through before being able to move forward with an initiative. In today’s fast-paced world, many will find the need to reflect on current processes to see where they can eliminate barriers in decision making.

Finally, I believe there will be an increased competition among for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations providing products and services to members. In the past, nonprofits have been restricted in their ability to compete by small budgets and limited resources. The age of the Internet has made information dissemination much easier, and much more affordable.


I told you they were thought-provoking! Thank you to Lowell and Gabriel for contributing these insights - there’s a lot of exciting and impactful stuff on the horizon for our member-based organizations.

So, now what? Reading these is sure to stir some energy and consideration in any association professional, but knowing what to do to move forward can be a challenge. Lucky for you, we have some resources on these very topics (and more). May I suggest one to get you started? As the title would imply, The Ultimate Guide to Membership Management is an all-encompassing guide of membership best practices that will organize and align your path for 2018.

The Ultimate Guide to Membership Management

Topics: association management, Small Staff Chatter

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