Recruitment is Easy, Cultivating an Engaged Membership Requires Finesse


by Patricia Hudson Melos Institute*

In this article, Patricia Hudson, MPsSc (Melos Institute), notes that she learned early in her career, that “membership recruitment is not ‘selling’ a product, but instead it is inviting someone to become part of a distinctive community that can have transformative impact on one’s life.”

Hudson shares the three key lessons she’s learned about building member engagement within associations  -  from her experience in developing membership recruitment campaigns, then working with volunteer and staff leaders and more recently through her work at the Melos Institute*. The three key lessons  that “have made all the difference” to Hudson are:

  1. Recruitment is easy if you understand its essence
  2. Engaging the membership community requires understanding the association’s dimensions
  3. Members rarely understand how to make the most of their membership experience.

Hudson also outlines a relation-centered management model (and link to a working paper), defined by a Melos Institute working group, that blends sound business with appropriate community development practices. 

The article ends by offering  3 “Immediate Things You Can Do…to Socialize Members” to build member engagement:

  • Member orientation*
  • Peer-to-peer mentoring
  • Assessing your readiness for engagement*

*strategy includes a link to free tools available to download


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* The Melos Institute is a nonprofit nonpartisan independent think tank that works with thinkers and shapers to find new and better ways for volunteer and staff leaders to deliver more meaningful and transformative experiences to their members. The Institute’s applied research initiatives are geared to helping us understand the strategies and tactics as well as the principles, processes and tools that will produce an active and engaged membership

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