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Did You Know? Associations Plan to Innovate Membership (Again) in 2018

By Association Adviser staff • January 30, 2018

Last month, we asked readers in what area they plan to make the most innovative changes in 2018. The results are in:AA January 2018 - Most Innovative Changes

As in 2017, membership remains the top priority for associations to evolve and improve. Fifty-seven percent of respondents named this their top area for planned innovations. Slightly less than one-third (29 percent) said they would focus on marketing and communication changes while 14 percent plan to focus most of their association’s changes on the technology it deploys.

What does innovation in membership look like?

It could mean providing your membership with the resources they’re unable to create (and create well) on their own. For this reason, as Meena Dayak explained last year, Public Power creates and freely shares infographics, checklists and other materials that explain the role of public power in American life with its member utilities.

It could also mean recognizing the services members provide by spotlighting the achievements and character of the beneficiaries. Every year, the Georgia Health Care Association puts on the annual Ms. GHCA Pageant as a lighthearted and genuine way to show its commitment to improving elderly and disabled care. The pageant, in which senior citizens compete for the title of Ms. GHCA, is a chance for skilled nursing facility residents to feel glamorous and recognized for their life’s accomplishments. The skilled nursing homes in which they live are also recognized for their high level of compassionate care. The unconventional format and contestants of the pageant bring more attention to the issues surrounding skilled nursing care than any blog post, newsletter or speech could.

Finally, what about innovating the member onboarding process? At the beginning of 2016, the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) experimented with offering free digital memberships to let beekeeping professionals get their feet wet in the association without any financial risk. ABF gave these digital members access to a newsletter, a digital version of their magazine and beekeeping-related webinars. As the 12-month free membership period ended, ABF staff worked hard through email and phone campaigns to convert these professionals to dues-paying, conference-attending members. Out of 4,500 complimentary memberships ABF logged that year, 250 became dues-paying members. More than 35 of those new members attended the following year’s conference. By giving beekeepers a taste of membership value, the association demonstrated that it’s possible to share resources with the industry at large and still upsell members to full-fledged benefits.

Did we miss an area that your association is planning to give special attention this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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