3 Ideas for Inspiring Member Loyalty and Demonstrating Value

Membership May 21, 2013

Lori Halley

By Lori Halley

Two of the topics that resonated with the participants in our Small Membership Insight Survey were challenges around driving member engagement and demonstrating membership value.  A couple of posts I’ve read recently offered food for thought on these challenges, so I thought I’d share some of their fresh ideas here. 

Creating “feelings of value” for members

In a guest post on The Membership Engagement Blog, Meredith Low reminds associations to “make sure you’re thinking of members’ emotional interests.”  Low offers some suggestions for how you might appeal to your members’ sense of value:

  • “Credential programs can really help members get feelings of value from others they deal with (their employers, or customers), and can lead to them feeling supported by the association.”
  • Save members time and make them feel capable by curating content for them – this can be as simple as someone pulling the most relevant stories from a news-feed and repackaging it out to the membership in the form of an email. 

While those two ideas are focused on professional associations, they do raise “an overarching theme” that Low identifies which is that you need to listen to and stay connected to your members to ensure you are offering programs and services that they value in order to keep them engaged.

Giving members what they want

Speaking of listening to what your members want, the findings of a LinkedIn study (hat tip to Christina G. Smith) of more than 7000 professionals world-wide, found that their top goals were:

  1. Professional development through learning new skills (48 percent)
  2. Network more/build more professional relationships (46 percent)

This is such great news for associations!  It also confirms the findings of our Small Membership Insight Survey, which indicated that the top reasons for joining a membership organization remain networking and education or professional development.  This sends a clear message that members are looking for opportunities to network with their peers. What your organization needs to determine is how your members prefer to network – offline at meetings or events or online through forums or social networks. What meetings  or events do you have in place that might simply need some tweaking? Or do you need to create some new networking opportunities?

You’ll also need to figure out what type of education or professional development activities would best suit your members.  Perhaps you need to look beyond the traditional learning or credential environment to find the right fit.  And don’t forget that professional development can also occur through volunteer opportunities that enable members to learn or apply new skills.  Perhaps your organization can facilitate learning opportunities through networked volunteering. 

It’s a two-way street – association loyalty begets member loyalty

If you want members to stick with your organization, it makes sense that you stick with them through thick and thin as well. In her post – Creating Value For Members – Meredith Low offered some suggestions for promoting member loyalty:

  • Create loyalty by sticking with members through employment challenges” by offering:
    • reduced dues for members who are out of work
    • offering an advice “hotline” for members to provide to one another
    • running a job board open only to members in your sector

What about offering unemployed members volunteer opportunities at your organization to help build new skills (as noted above) or provide networking opportunities?

But while these ideas focus on what might be a small percentage of your membership, by demonstrating that you are sticking with and helping members through their tough times, you may build good will among existing and potential members too.

Any creative sparks?

These are just a few ideas to get the creative membership juices flowing. Can your organization find ways of helping members achieve personal goals for networking and professional development – through opening up networking channels or changing up your existing events? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

More on member engagement:

For additional ideas on how you might grow member engagement, check out Tips for Building Membership Engagement – a free resource available in our Membership Knowledge Hub.


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