To survive today, it is crucial associations take forward-thinking approaches to cultivate new members and improve the member experience. Doing so will benefit both the organization and the members they serve as they find innovative new ways to deliver value and improve return on investment for all parties involved. “Associations are competing with Google every day of the week,” says Author and Consultant Ed Rigsbee. “And they need a better knowledge of management in order to compete.” Here Rigsbee shares five indicators of forward-thinking associations:

  1. They see their organization in the eyes of the nonmember. “I remember a time when 12 monthly magazines and an annual meeting was good enough,” Rigsbee says. “So many associations are still run by baby boomers and see it through that paradigm, but the ones that are forcing themselves to listen to the younger members and make adjustments accordingly are the ones attracting more people.”
  2. They learn how to sell the features of memberships through the benefits delivered. “Many organizations list member benefits on their website, when these are actually features,” Rigsbee says. “The benefit is the how the feature actually makes a member's life better.” The most successful associations find a way to sell members-only benefits in a way that demonstrates how having access to them will improve the life, business or finances of the participating member.
  3. They offer members a product with measurable value. “For years we heard the phrase ‘membership is priceless,’ but the associations who are succeeding today are the ones that are presenting their members' ROI in actual dollar amounts,” Rigsbee says.
  4. They groom members to become recruitment evangelists. Associations thrive at attracting new members when they create strong ambassadors who have the ability and passion to demonstrate value through their own successes. “Members ultimately need to see what's in it for them, and these evangelists can show them,” Rigsbee says.
  5. They give their members better recruitment tools. Your members-only features should be distinctive and hard, if not impossible, to find elsewhere. These best-of-their-kind features need to be presented in an attractive, easy-to-understand format, whether that be a streamlined website, a clean brochure or another engaging recruitment tool.

Source: Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE, Author and Consultant, Rigsbee Enterprises, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA. Phone (805) 498-5720. E-mail: Website: