3 Decision to Join Myths and the Reason Members Join Our Associations

Written by Amanda Kaiser on April 2, 2019

Why do our members join?

It turns out, our most commonly held beliefs of this question are mostly wrong.

Myth #1: Members Join for Our Benefits

Members join to go to the annual conference. Or they join to get a research report or one of 15 other great benefits. Sometimes members join to gain access to a benefit, but rarely. Much more often members do not know a thing about the association when they join. They could not name a single benefit if they tried. Think about it. Most existing members can only rattle off two or three benefits. New members know even less.

Myth #2: Members Join for the Value

The benefits of membership are worth $2,048, but members only pay $375. Or our solutions save members time and money. These may be the reasons some members join sometimes, but overwhelmingly members do not join for the value. Do not get me wrong; value is critically important. While members do not join for the value, they stay for the value.

Myth #3: Members Join Because the Association is the Leading Authority

Our organization is 75 years old and is the voice of the industry. Nah, members do not join for this reason either.

All of this begs the question, why DO members join?

I have talked to over 300 members and heard hundreds of stories about deciding to join, actually joining, and what happens right after they join. Most often members join for this reason.

Someone Said I Should Join

Over and over members share how peers, managers, and others in the profession or industry prompted them to join. A peer invited them to a chapter meeting. Someone they respect is a member of the association so they figured if that person thought the association was worth the time and money, they would find membership worthwhile too. A boss signed them up. A director sent the team to the conference. A peer asked them to volunteer at an event.

I estimate that of all the associations where members join at will, my guess is around 80% of members join because someone said they should. This means the most important thing you can do is delight current members and make sure they know the reason the association is thriving is because members like them recruit more members.

Editor’s note: This article was first published on Amanda Kaiser’s blog Smooth the Path.