If recruitment is an issue at your association, it might be time to reconsider (or revamp) your membership model. You probably have a variety of member types at your association (student, professional, associate, etc.), but within those member types, do you have varying tiers?

For example, if someone’s a professional member, could they then choose to be a Tier 1 or Tier 2 professional member? What’s the difference? Well it’s all up to you, but essentially, it would boil down to benefits. Or perks, even. Maybe Tier 2 professional members get early registration on your annual meeting. Or one free webinar per year. The possibilities for structure are endless, but the point is to incentivize people to upgrade. Or, to attract people who might not be able to afford your standard membership price.

Really, it’s just about giving people options.

Now the big question (or one of the big questions) regarding membership tiers is what if my members downgrade? Well, that’s a fair question and definitely a possibility. But here are a few things to consider:

  • If you’re really worried about people downgrading, consider starting your membership tiers at the price you’re currently offering. For example, if a professional membership is currently $150/year, make that Tier 1, then increase the price based on added perks. That way, people can only upgrade, if they so choose.
  • Let’s say you do offer a cheaper membership tier and some of your members do downgrade. Well, don’t overlook the people who might’ve joined your association because you now have a cheaper option. Do those two actions balance each other out? This will take some serious tracking (and possibly, even surveying), but it’s worth it if you can find a model that works.

Now let’s go back to those tiered benefits for a second. How do you know if the perks you’re offering equate to an increase in dues? Well it’s going to take some research, and maybe even a little trial and error. But start by talking to your members. Ask them what they’d be willing to pay extra for (early event registration, front-row seating at your annual conference, a private quarterly networking event, etc.), then start creating tiers accordingly.

Membership tiers seem complicated, but think of it like this: a good, better, best model. Don’t short-change your Tier 1 members, but do think about how you can increase revenue (and attract more members) by offering premium services and appealing to a variety of wants and needs.

Want more tips for growing your organization’s membership? Check out our free guide, Best Practices for Online Member Acquisition, below!