The purpose of this blog is to suggest some ways that an association can influence how a member reacts when s/he receives and opens an email whose attachment is an invoice for the privilege of membership.

Many years ago, when I was in the restaurant business, I was happy to pay the restaurant association’s annual membership fee, because the cash benefit of being a member was larger than the membership fee:

Savings in credit card processing fees – membership fee = happine$$

Unfortunately, the benefits of association membership are typically not as easy to calculate as the restaurant example. The more difficult the calculation, the more important it is to offer proof to your members customers and communicate this to them often and in many different ways.

Communicating the benefits of membership is an ongoing process. One email, one blog, or one newsletter article usually will not create a lasting impression. Repetition of the benefits of membership, if successful will produce results.

The successful communication of these benefits can create a virtuous cycle that includes:
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  • Greater retention/reduced number of members who do not renew
  • Recruiting more members as a result of referrals from both existing members and suppliers to your members
  • Increased membership revenue that makes it easier to provide more membership benefits and attract more members

    More revenue from meeting and conference registration from (i) members (it is likely the more members an organization has, the larger the number of people who are likely to register) and (ii) more suppliers investing in tradeshow booths, program advertising, and sponsorships as a result of greater member attendance

  • More meeting and conference revenue that makes it easier to invest more in programming that will increase the value of attending
  • Enhanced conference programming might make it possible to increase overall registration revenue while also lowering fees, if your analysis finds that more people would attend if the fees were reduced

Marketers call communicating the amount of happine$$membership buys a “value proposition” and they understand that each organization typically has several value propositions – ways in which they provide value to their members.

Developing the right list of value propositions for your organization requires a review and analysis of the different and several ways that a member benefits from membership.

For example your current members may benefit from some financial advantage that can quickly be communicated and proven to a prospective member, but they might also have other equally valuable but less obvious benefits such as the network of peers that they have developed during many years of participation – something that is not so easily delivered to a brand new member that has not yet put in the time to create their own network.

And when defining your value propositions don’t forget about the benefits you bring to other constituent groups, i.e. “suppliers to your customers”

Many associations find that their greatest source of additional revenue comes from suppliers of goods and services to your members.

If you are not sure which benefits of membership are most valued by your customers members, then why not ask them in an email? 

The inspiration for this blog comes from Darlene Howard,who started a discussion on communicating the benefits of membership on the LinkedIn’s CSAE (Canadian Society of Association Executives) group.

There is no cost to join the CSAE LinkedIn group’s discussion

If you are a Canadian association executive and not a member of CSAE, then you can learn about the benefits of membership by visiting