Member Engagement – Real Questions

We had a fantastic session by Tom Morrison on Maximizing Member Engagement as part of the Member Engagement Webinar Series.  Link to the Recording.  Slides:

What struck me were the wonderful questions that Tom posed for associations. 


imageWhy People Join Associations:

  1. Organize themselves
  2. Coordinate their efforts (cause)
  3. Leverage the costs over many people
  4. Build trust for partnerships/business opportunities
  5. Do things for themselves they could not do individually more effectively

The 5th bullet is the lynch-pin.  As a member I’m looking for the association to help me do things that I want to do that I can’t do for myself. 

Tom also pointed to the emotional pull of associations:

  1. People WANT to be a part of something BIGGER than themselves
  2. People WANT to be a part of something EXCITING
  3. People WANT to believe in an organization that can EMPOWER them to make it happen

Key to providing value to members:

Identifying things you can for your members they cannot do themselves effectively in time, effort or financial resources.

Again, that’s gold.

I will say that I struggle a bit with the bottom-up vs. top-down message from Tom.  Particularly if you look at making sure your association is doing things that are differentiate itself.  Tom suggests you need to ask:

  • What can an association provide that the members can’t get anywhere else. 
  • Focus on the top 5

That conflicts a bit with Tom suggesting that members want to be part of and create the cause.  Many organizations put impediments to members taking up a cause.  And if the organization is focusing on its top 5 differentiators, it likely will create barriers to member imitated innovation.

I am also struggling with the challenge of dealing with innovation and change in most associations.

Questions from the audience:

  • What to do about a CEO operating with a Manager’s mentality?  
  • Member value is different depending on the generation asking. How do you address the differing needs?  
  • Do you think that "chapters" help build the association with more direct local one on one contact with members?  
  • How do you deliver 350 online classes with a staff of 3 people?   
  • Any other advice for those who do not have chapters?   
  • Can you talk a little more about how you engaged your current membership?
  • What are your recommendations for how to increase revenue from existing members without them feeling "nickeled and dimed" after they’ve already paid a membership dues?  
  • How do you build that trust and/or develop caring? As a precursor to membership.

A great resource from Tom: 5-Stages to Building Believers in Your Association


  1. The New World of Member Engagement – Webinar Series - December 5, 2012

    […] Post and Slides: Member Engagement – Real Questions […]

Leave a Reply