The Value of Membership

Is membership valuable?

As a volunteer, I work with many non-profit fraternal organizations. The number one question I keep asking their leadership is “what makes membership valuable?” Associations exist in a competitive environment. We have to constantly show value if we want to compete for our members’ time and money. While there are an increasing number of alternatives that members can turn to get what they receive from their association, we are still in a unique position to thrive.

I have often heard that nonprofits don’t have the resources to keep up with our bigger for-profit competitors but I don’t think that’s true if we utilize our biggest asset. The one huge competitive advantage associations have is that people are willing to donate their expertise to the organizations to which they are a member. They will contribute their time and do things for their association they would expect to get paid for anywhere else.

     I regularly plan social events, at no cost, for the groups I belong to. These events provide members with activities at a lower cost and they are also convenient because they require no planning by the attendees.

     Trade associations are able to provide quality education for less than what it would be elsewhere because the speakers are volunteering their time.

     Many academic groups provide members with access to opportunities to have their work published. These publications are then used to provide the membership with great information.

In all of these examples the members are the ones creating the membership benefits. All membership organizations have a mission to provide value to their members. As association professionals and as volunteer leaders our job is to make sure they’re receiving that value. Volunteerism is a huge asset that enables associations to deliver that value, and our advantage in competing with for-profit alternatives.

Is membership valuable? It should be for the member and it definitely is for the association.