What We All Can Learn About Membership
From Ryan Crowe
by Patricia A. Hudson, MPsSc, Melos Institute*
This article is Trish Hudson’s (Melos Institute) response to a blog post by Ryan Crowe, a recent graduate and guest blogger for SocialFish who had shared his honest perceptions about associations and the value of membership.
Trish suggests that Ryan’s observations “should raise some red flags. It’s important to listen to those who are on the “outside, looking in.” They make observations that may never show up in a focus group or survey but may very exist in the larger membership universe …working against you.”
Trish also notes that while Ryan’s “observations are being ascribed to that of a younger generation. With all due respect, for those of us who have been working in the membership development trenches for decades, we recognize that his feelings are universal; they span across time and generational lines. But that’s just a distraction from the real issue which is whether or not we are willing to take a sobering look at the impact our actions are having on building vibrant and welcoming membership communities?
And if so, what are we willing to do about it?
Taking Ryan’s recommendations to heart, Trish makes the following suggestions:
- Get Real:
Get out of the bubble – meaning the boundaries you operate in where everyone you work with (members included) knows about you. It’s not real.
- Get Perspective:
Understand the distinctive nature of associations and their role in our society to affect change. Today’s technology enables us to personalize members’ experiences as never before AND discover the expertise they can contribute to achieve the association’s goals.
- Get Re-Inspired:
Remember the feeling you had in the early days of your career as an association professional? Every experience was new. Every interaction was novel. Every event was a thrill to behold. Years later, much of this has become repetitive for you. But not for those who are learning about you for the first time. And not for those members who come yearning for a WOW experience.
- Get Inventive:
Explore how embracing a relation-centered versus a transactional model for association management can make the difference.
In the article, Trish offers suggestions, links to additional information and tools on what you can do to help capture and maintain the attention of potential new members.
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* The Melos Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit independent think tank focused specifically on addressing challenging issues that have persisted for membership-based organizations.