Four Things Association Board Members Can Do Today To Grow Membership


Growing membership is everyone’s job, but too often it can become pigeonholed as a responsibility reserved for the membership department.

As an association Board member, you can also be a secret weapon in growing membership. You already believe in the organization and its mission. So how can you help grow membership without the bells and whistles of full-on marketing campaigns?

Here are four simple steps that you can take today to grow your association’s membership:

1. Review your network. Take a look at your contacts, identify who would benefit from membership, and send an email, make a phone call, or meet for coffee to talk about what’s happening in the association. Peer-to-peer outreach can be far more powerful than any marketing campaign.

2. Remember why you joined. Think back to when you were new to the association. Why did you originally join? How has the association helped you over the years? Review what your association offers, and make notes on which benefits have offered you real-life solutions. You’ll have a better perspective on the needs of a potential member the next time you meet one.

3. Check your priorities. Often, boards identify membership growth as a critical objective—then allocate only a small percentage of staff time or budget to it. Review your organization’s budget. Is membership growth proportionately represented in your budget vs. your stated goals? Do you have clear guidelines for how much staff time should be spent on membership growth? If membership growth is a priority, ensure the organization is treating it as one.

4. Talk—and listen—to a younger member. Call a member who is of a different generation than you. Find out what matters to them. The answers may provide guidance for what the association should keep—or stop—doing to attract the next generation of members.

Membership growth doesn’t stop and end with the organization’s membership director. While the steps above may seem small, they can make a huge difference in the association’s long-term growth.