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MASAE members are front line professionals in association and nonprofit management. They are chief staff officers, executive directors, senior staff and members of diverse teams including membership, marketing, financial, human resources, education and information technology (just to name a few).

Members are also consultants, vendors and suppliers from a host of backgrounds, all committed to helping nonprofit and membership organizations from throughout the region continue to realize their missions and more. The community has come together to create this blog and share their experiences with the larger association community. It’s part of MASAE’s commitment to create real value, right in your back yard. We hope you enjoy the stories our guest bloggers share and that you join in the conversation by sharing your thoughts in the comments section.

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  • Thursday, March 14, 2019 3:58 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Amanda Kaiser, SmoothThePath.net

    Amanda Kaiser is a member engagement specialist and consultant for the association community. Amanda writes a popular weekly blog at SmoothThePath.net.

    Imagine that your members are on one side of a canyon. This canyon has steep walls, and a raging river with rapids is running through it (maybe even sharks). This metaphorical canyon separates your members from your association. The river represents the gap in understanding members have about the association and what the benefits we provide can do for them.

    Your members have problems. Some of these problems are easy to solve; many members have had these same problems before. Other issues are new or complex or high-stakes problems. You members might not be looking for solutions thinking they have to live with the problem or they might be searching for answers. They look around their side of the canyon, they look in the water, and they look into the sky, but they cannot find a solution.

    On the other side of the canyon, you have a benefit that contains the exact solution they are looking for. You are shouting across the canyon “benefit. Benefit! BENEFIT!!! Here is a great benefit.” Your members hear you yelling, but they don’t do anything.

    Why? Because we have not bridged the gap of understanding between their problem and our benefit. Your members are softly whispering, “I am struggling” and we are saying to them, “try this benefit” usually without linking our benefit to their current frustration. So how do you build that bridge of understanding?

    • State the problem using their words and ideally include the emotions they feel because of the problem.
    • Reveal the solution, the outcome, and how other members felt after receiving the solution.
    • Default to short clear messaging especially for new, less engaged members.
    • Pick a warm, engaging tone that is pleasant, friendly, and maybe even uplifting.

    If your goal is to improve member engagement one of the first places to start is to build the bridge of understanding for your members. Show them the link between their problem and your solution. Over and over again.


    Amanda Kaiser is a member engagement specialist and consultant for the association community. Amanda writes a popular weekly blog at SmoothThePath.net.
  • Thursday, March 14, 2019 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Amanda Kaiser, SmoothThePath.net

    Amanda Kaiser is a member engagement specialist and consultant for the association community. Amanda writes a popular weekly blog at SmoothThePath.net.

    When someone asks you how you are, do you say, “busy”? “I have been crazy busy” has been my go-to reply. Fifty years ago did people say that? Maybe but probably they said, “I am fine, thank you.”

    Today professionals are time-starved. There is never enough time to do the things we want to do at work or at home. I hear this in the research often. From university presidents to CFOs, to fundraisers, to engineers, to financial planners, to association professionals, none of us have enough time.

    Being involved in an association usually takes time. But what if our association could give back time to our members? That would be an enormous benefit! And this is something many associations already do.

    • Benchmarking studies save members the time of having to do it themselves.
    • Curated content saves members time from searching and validating content themselves.
    • Association online communities can save members time because they don’t need to sift through the mess of some public communities.

    What else could save time?

    • Association consulting services that help members get to a solution faster.
    • Association agency services that help members with time-consuming media and content production.
    • Or what about an association service that helps members connect with just the right member.

    Perhaps what your strategy, marketing, and innovation needs is a focus on how the association can save members’ time.


  • Thursday, March 14, 2019 3:50 PM | Anonymous

    Written By Amanda Kaiser, SmoothThePath.net

    Amanda Kaiser is a member engagement specialist and consultant for the association community. Amanda writes a popular weekly blog at SmoothThePath.net.

    In the age of infinite choice, organizations can not afford to make the purchase experience difficult. And so we see one-click online ordering, retail stores with no checkout lines, curbside pick up, and more. All of these changes, which would be unheard of just a decade ago, seek to make the consumer experience easier. Frictionless.

    Grocery chain executives are likely having conversations like this, “maybe my grocery store carries the same items as the grocery store down the street, but I can change the grocery buying process making it quicker and easier for shoppers. Busy people will shop here when they see they can save 10 minutes or a half an hour a week purchasing their groceries.”

    The only places where we still see friction-full buyer experiences are where buyers have few choices. The airlines, utilities, government offices, hospitals, etc.

    If you work for an association where membership is required or an association with a 98% retention rate and no competition, your association might be able to get away with a bit of friction.

    The rest of us need to design frictionless experiences wherever members interact with us, including:

    • Intuitive member applications
    • Easy to understand membership tiers (or no tiers)
    • Immediate access to behind-the-pay-wall member benefits upon joining
    • Timely, valuable new member messaging that solves the problem they currently have
    • Professional development opportunities even if I cannot come to an in-person event
    • Easy access to other members who have the same niche project, goal, or challenge
    • Quick response to members who call, email, or chat
    • Quick-to-read but highly valuable newsletters
    • Intuitive website navigation
    • Curated networking
    • Customizable data
    • Helpfulness
    • Welcomes
    • Smiles

    Try standing in your member’s shoes and list all the points of friction between members and the association’s policies, or staff, or systems. Get started by picking an easy one to solve and gradually work through your list eliminating all the points of friction in your members’ experiences.

  • Wednesday, November 01, 2017 9:22 PM | Deleted user

    Posted By Joseph Sapp, CAE, Wednesday, Nov 1, 2017

    Much like others who find themselves in Association Management, I was completely in the dark about the industry until I found myself right in the middle of it. I did not study to become an Association Executive and I have never joined a membership society before therefore I did not know that there was an abundance of associations for almost anything.

    At the start of my career in association management I was at the bottom – learning membership protocols, staffing a booth at a tradeshow, returning phone calls to the office, and stuffing envelopes. As I improved my understanding of what this industry was, I sought resources that would give me more opportunity. That first resource was DVSAE and, subsequently, MASAE.

    I attended a half-day workshop in Philadelphia and there I met a few people, heard some things that made no sense to me at the time and left overwhelmed. A few months later I attended the Annual Conference. I saw someone that I had met at the previous workshop, and they remembered my name. They welcomed me and said it was good to see I had decided to attend the conference.

    That was an “Oh Sh*t” moment that changed everything. I was no longer working in Association Management, I had a career in Association Management. I had found a community, one that gave me the tools I needed to grow professionally.

    Since that day, I have been to nearly every MASAE event. I have met colleagues and friends. People that I trust, that I can call with a question and know without a doubt I am getting honest and professional feedback.

    I have seen what impact I can have on the industry as well. From calling a member about renewal to planning the Annual Conference, I have seen the value the organization brings to people and their career. I think about the different industries our members serve and the type of value they are bringing, and from time-to-time it still gives me that same “Oh Sh*t” moment I had years ago when I realized the value that MASAE gave my career.

  • Monday, October 16, 2017 9:20 PM | Deleted user

    Posted By Ryan Rosenbaum, MBA, Monday, Oct 16, 2017

    I have been working in Association Management for the last 15 years. This is something I am proud to say because there are 1.5 million professionals working for 90,000 trade associations around the country. Association Management is a small field compared to others. Larger associations (Mainly AMC’s) could have dozens of employees but a majority of associations have 5 staff members or less. Because of these statistics, we, Association Professionals, tend to navigate our world by turning to colleagues who work at other similar associations. “Who knew that there was even an association for the associations” is what I thought to myself a few years ago!

    I found MASAE in 2010. I was a few years into my career and really looking to share and gain knowledge from those in my industry. I found out that even though every association was different in its mission, the core values are quite similar. Many of us have shared strategic obstacles, membership development techniques, technology concerns, board engagement issues, educational components, marketing campaigns and sponsorship ideas to share.

    By attending MASAE conferences, webinars and networking events, I have been able to enhance my career but I’d like to think that I’ve improved those around me too. There is a great sense of comradery of professionalism. I look forward to the MASAE events as It allows me to network and see how everyone is progressing in their careers. Seeing familiar faces and even newer faces offers me the encouragement and assurance that I’ve chosen the right career. Being a part of an SAE is also my commitment to my professional career. It indicates a constant devotion to learning about the industry and taking these educational steps in helping my association.

    MASAE has both the duty of fulfilling its obligations to its members by offering a superior suite of opportunities. It has no choice as the members themselves know a good membership organization when we see one. It is my hope that many of you see these same values that I have experienced in the last 7 years because as I learned, we can’t do it alone!

  • Sunday, October 01, 2017 9:04 PM | Deleted user

    Posted By Ethan Gray, Wednesday, Oct 1, 2017

    If you’re like me, Association Management was not on your radar screen while you were in college. Since I finished my undergraduate studies in 2003, the industry has (in my eyes) gained much more visibility. I think that speaks not only to its vitality but the recognition of its essential role in society by institutions of higher education. That didn’t help me in 2003 though. I left college with enthusiasm, great memories, an economics degree and almost no direction. Instead of moving back home, I relocated to Philadelphia with my future wife and some equally wayward friends and signed up for AmeriCorps (an exceptional program with beautifully varied opportunities).

    AmeriCorps introduced me to the non-profit environment and to real service. When my term ended, I envisioned two paths I could consider walking: 1) Go back to economics and try to find an entry-level role asan analyst or continue to pursue this foggy non-profit world. I chose the latter. I was lucky enough to convince several people that I had areal penchant for service and for contributing to a cause or profession designed to make a difference rather than simply generate a profit. Two jobs later I said to myself “I seem to have at least found a role that makes sense and might keep me gainfully employed for a while”. This was partly because I had been able to transfer skills I had acquired in my econ training (data manipulation, introductory project management etc.). This is an important point because I believe many concentrations teach fundamental skills that are applicable daily tothis industry. In a way, that provides a diversity of opportunity that may not be so readily available elsewhere. Anyway, I found myself in another period of contemplation. And then it happened. I found a job atan Association Management Company. What was “As·so·ci·a·tion Man·age·ment”?? I didn’t know but would be quickly educated. When Ifully grasped the concept, I knew I had found a career. Not only was I amazed but I felt gratitude for having somehow been delivered to this opportunity; an opportunity for a real professional life. Through that job, I was introduced to MASAE. Now, I had not only a career path but a community and resources to help me navigate, contribute and be successful.

    That all happened 11 years ago. Since then, my wife has walked a path that lead to the same industry (how cute) and her vocation has taken her all over the world as a volunteer specialist teaching people about the power of professional engagement and community.  Through this all, MASAE has been a place for learning, building relationships and becoming a better association manager. The organization was a principal reason I pursued and achieved the CAE credential. I have been grateful that MASAE has also allowed me to serve as a speaker, committee member and now board member.

    Whether you have been recently delivered to Association Management or are seasoned, MASAE is your community and can be an indispensable resource should you choose to engage (come to networking events! access resources online! join a committee!). The community will be stronger with your contributions. My path to this profession was largely circumstantial. Since I arrived, I have been deliberate in my unwillingness to travel elsewhere. I know many MASAE members and I would like to meet and learn from more. I hope to see you at upcoming events. Feel free to connect at any time.

    I now work in membership at the Society of Hospital Medicine in Philadelphia; egray@hospitalmedicine.org or find me on LinkedIn.

  • Sunday, January 01, 2017 8:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Posted By Administration, Friday, January 1, 2016
    Updated: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

    By Rick Rutherford
    Industry Resource Director, YourMembership

    It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.

    Whenever I hear that phrase, I feel my blood pressure start to rise! Of course it’s personal – it always has been.

    The whole notion that business isn’t personal simply provides justification for treating people poorly in the workplace and within organizations. It works to diminish human interaction and the results are almost always counter-productive. It is at the very heart of poor customer service. We all know that people who aren’t treated well don’t stick around, whether that be employees, customers, or members.

    One of the alarming trends I’ve noticed during the last 36 months is the increasing number of associations that are being force to disband – essentially going out of business. The most common reason I’ve seen given for this is dwindling membership, causing shrinking revenues that eventually lead to the organization becoming no longer financially viable. Competition for associations has increased substantially, and even with an improving economy, there is still a great deal of pressure on non-profit organizations.

    You may have heard the phrase “people don’t quit jobs, they quit people.” The same can be said for members and their associations.

    As our organizations struggle to find new and creative ways to grow and retain membership, they are finding themselves forced to place all of their cards on the table. They must create a member experience based on undeniable value. Does that mean overhauling the traditional dues structure, adding new services, or more non-dues revenue initiatives? Maybe. But I think what is really needed calls for something more personal – getting personal.

    Getting Personal

    As a society, we always find room for the things we value, even when that seems impractical. Traditionally, members have rallied around their associations during tough times. The ability to network, share ideas and ask for help created unbreakable bonds until associations ran smack into the buzz saw known as technology. The New Millennium has not brought glad tidings to many organizations, which have been forced to realize they’re not quite up to speed when it comes to serving this new, demanding audience that wants, and expects, everything at the click of a mouse.

    We’ve all witnessed, and been given access to some of the most amazing technological advances known to man. The born from technology have made us more available to one another than ever before. It’s a 24/7 world whether you want to engage it, or not. And yet with all of the advancements in technology we seem to have grown more impersonal in how we communicate with one another. Just because it’s been tweeted, or is out there on Facebook doesn’t mean the connection has been made.

    People join associations for a variety of reasons, most of which are personal. Whether they are there for professional development or volunteering their time and talents, it is a personal commitment to the organization. And on the flip side of the equation, when it comes to staff providing exceptional service to your members – it should be personal.

    Going Old School

    So as we work our way to the Dog Days of Summer, I want to boldly suggest an “old school” approach to cultivating an intimate relationship with your members that has been a longtime and proven favorite of mine – pick up the phone!

    One of the casualties resulting from the growth of technology in communications is that we often end up removing the person, the real person, from the equation. Email, texting, tweeting have made it so easy to avoid the “real” in communications – I’m talking about the conversation. No sharing of mood (sorry, emoticons don’t count), personality, or understanding of the true nature of the message. Calling someone on the phone has become a big deal – as in taking a lot of effort.

    How often have you read an email that leaves you thinking the author is angry with your organization, angry with you, or just plain rude? In many cases when you talk with the person to discuss their message, you realize they are neither angry, nor rude – just not a very good writer.

    Email is often a poor form of communication at best, one that can easily be misinterpreted. Misunderstood messages often lead to nasty exchanges that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

    Do you want to make an impact that lasts longer than the time it takes to compose an email and then have the recipient move that message to a “black hole” folder? Institute a no email day, at least for yourself. Once a week, once a month – it doesn’t matter. Start with a commitment you can build from. Start with yourself and then engage your staff to join you.

    The Starting Point

    Where do you start? Look in your inbox. Select someone you have only communicated with through email or have not spoken with in quite some time. Look in your database and identify members who have not been contacted by anyone from your association in a while. Call members coming up for renewal. Call (former) members who have let their membership lapse (a tougher conversation, for sure). Call a member when they receive an accolade, professional or otherwise. Call a vendor or sponsor to let them know how valuable they are to the ongoing success of your association. I guarantee you, there is a lot of low hanging fruit you and your staff can pick.

    Now you’re ready to enjoy the opportunity of making a real connection. Maybe there is no one there to take your call and you end up leaving a message on their voice mail. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Either way your voice on the line says “I care about YOU.” That always makes a difference. Start dialing!

    It’s not just business, it’s personal.

    About Rick

    As YourMembership’s Industry Resource Director, Rick guides YM’s thought leadership initiatives, directing the company’s Resource Center, weekly blog and monthly webinar series, as well as coordinates YM’s Industry Alliance Program.

    Rick has worked in the association industry for more than 29 years, serving as a vendor partner, staff member, and co-founder of a technology company focused on associations. Rick previously served as the Communications Director for the Texas Society of Association Executives, where he received a Gold Circle Award from ASAE.

    @ricknatx

  • Tuesday, November 29, 2016 8:56 PM | Deleted user

    Posted By Amanda Kaiser, Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016

    The following is a guest post from Amanda Kaiser. You can check out more great posts from her on her weekly blog for association professionals at SmoothThePath.net or follow her on Twitter @SmoothThePath.

    Your annual conference is even more important than you think! For many new members the annual conference is the first time they get to interact with the association and the community in a meaningful way. If they have a good experience at this first conference they are more likely to become more engaged. Many members also say the conference is the biggest value compared to the association’s other offerings. Conferences are where our members have their first experiences of the association and conferences are where our members derive the most value.

    Because conferences are important we want to deliver the best possible experience for all attendees, first-time to long-time. This is certainly the case for the Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives (MASAE). This year I participated in the conference committee and got to see conference planning in action (by the way, the conference is December 14th and 15th in Atlantic City and I think you should go). What is particularly interesting about this year’s conference is the team methodically set about meeting some of members’ biggest challenges. Here are the challenges we all have and here is what we did about them:

    New Members Feel Like Outsiders

    One of the most common stories I hear in member research no matter the association is that first time attendees feel like outsiders. They don’t know anyone but, it seems like everyone else does. They don’t know the industry lingo but, it seems like everyone else does. They don’t even know where to go or what to attend but, it seems like everyone else does. When first-time attendees feel like outsiders for too long they do not get as much value from the conference and they do not come back.

    Some of the committee members noted that they too had the same feelings as first-time attendees. The team decided to try a first-time attendee orientation at the start of the conference. The orientation has two objectives: 1) make new-comers feel comfortable and welcome and, 2) give first-timers a sense of what to expect and what not to miss. New attendees will leave the orientation knowing each other and the conference committee members. If they want to ask questions during the conference or are looking for a friendly face to talk to at lunch or during the evening reception they will have us!

    Attendees Have a Hard Time Taking Insights to Action

    Have you ever heard members say something like, “well, at the conference I always learn at least one new thing”? Don’t we want them to learn and remember 100 new things? Isn’t it a success if they act on 10 of those new things? The conference is not a success if the only value is earning CAE credits. We want attendees to absorb what they learned, digest the implications for their unique situation, remember key insights and put them into practice back at the office.

    Conferences can be really long with very packed days. We run from keynotes to sessions to lunch to and back to sessions with very little time to ruminate on what we just heard. The committee decided to build in time for reflection right into the conference schedule. At the end of the conference attendees will be invited to choose their favorite topic to discuss in small groups. In this low-pressure, collegial environment they will have the opportunity to share their biggest take-aways and early thinking on how they might implement within their association.

    Associations Are Under Extreme Pressure to Change

    A recent association industry benchmarking study says that 7 out of 10 associations have just started focusing on innovation in the last one to five years. Most associations are decades old and are finding the old model isn’t working as well as it used to. We are having to innovate but innovation is new, uncertain and risky.

    Because innovation and change is such a big focus for associations today, the focus of this year’s conference is also on innovation and change. Four keynote and five session speakers will be tackling the topics of innovation and change. They’ll be sharing how they are doing it at small associations and large associations. They’ll be sharing ideas for association CEO’s as well as those involved in professional development, membership, marketing and more. They will be talking about organization-wide innovation and how to have a more innovative mindset. We’ll hear about how to change a culture and how to set up the right processes. We will learn that innovation is not luck and heroes. Innovation is a science, something we all can do. Did I tell you? I think you should join us?

    One association colleague of mine said the best conferences are not only ones where you learn from the sessions, speakers and each other but the best conferences are where you also learn from the conference organizers by seeing how they do what they do. I think this will be one of those conferences. We’ll be learning from the speakers. We’ll be learning from each other. And we will be experiencing in real time how each of these new tactics works and how to make them even better back at our own conferences.

    It is going to be great!

    I haven’t even mentioned yet all the other new things you will experience. There will be an innovative new show floor layout. The four keynoters have been working together as a team for months to bring us a cohesive story. Attendees will get a printed copy of the 37-page 2016 Association Industry Innovation Research Study.

    I think you should register now. Don’t you?

    Amanda Kaiser is a qualitative researcher for the association industry. Qualitative methodologies are great for answering difficult, thorny strategic questions. The more familiar quantitative methods like surveys and analyzing our own data are good for answering What. What members are thinking. What members are doing. What goals members have. Qualitative research adds a critical layer of insight by answering Why. Why members are thinking that. Why members are doing that. Why members have that goal. Knowing Why helps us make more accurate strategic decisions.

    Channeling member insights, Amanda writes a weekly blog for association professionals at SmoothThePath.net or follow her on Twitter@SmoothThePath.

  • Friday, January 01, 2016 8:46 PM | Deleted user

    Posted By Administration, Friday, Jan 1, 2016

    By Rick Rutherford
    Industry Resource Director, YourMembership

    It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.

    Whenever I hear that phrase, I feel my blood pressure start to rise! Of course it’s personal – it always has been.

    The whole notion that business isn’t personal simply provides justification for treating people poorly in the workplace and within organizations. It works to diminish human interaction and the results are almost always counter-productive. It is at the very heart of poor customer service. We all know that people who aren’t treated well don’t stick around, whether that be employees, customers, or members.

    One of the alarming trends I’ve noticed during the last 36 months is the increasing number of associations that are being force to disband – essentially going out of business. The most common reason I’ve seen given for this is dwindling membership, causing shrinking revenues that eventually lead to the organization becoming no longer financially viable. Competition for associations has increased substantially, and even with an improving economy, there is still a great deal of pressure on non-profit organizations.

    You may have heard the phrase “people don’t quit jobs, they quit people.” The same can be said for members and their associations.

    As our organizations struggle to find new and creative ways to grow and retain membership, they are finding themselves forced to place all of their cards on the table. They must create a member experience based on undeniable value. Does that mean overhauling the traditional dues structure, adding new services, or more non-dues revenue initiatives? Maybe. But I think what is really needed calls for something more personal – getting personal.

    Getting Personal

    As a society, we always find room for the things we value, even when that seems impractical. Traditionally, members have rallied around their associations during tough times. The ability to network, share ideas and ask for help created unbreakable bonds until associations ran smack into the buzz saw known as technology. The New Millennium has not brought glad tidings to many organizations, which have been forced to realize they’re not quite up to speed when it comes to serving this new, demanding audience that wants, and expects, everything at the click of a mouse.

    We’ve all witnessed, and been given access to some of the most amazing technological advances known to man. The born from technology have made us more available to one another than ever before. It’s a 24/7 world whether you want to engage it, or not. And yet with all of the advancements in technology we seem to have grown more impersonal in how we communicate with one another. Just because it’s been tweeted, or is out there on Facebook doesn’t mean the connection has been made.

    People join associations for a variety of reasons, most of which are personal. Whether they are there for professional development or volunteering their time and talents, it is a personal commitment to the organization. And on the flip side of the equation, when it comes to staff providing exceptional service to your members – it should be personal.

    Going Old School

    So as we work our way to the Dog Days of Summer, I want to boldly suggest an “old school” approach to cultivating an intimate relationship with your members that has been a longtime and proven favorite of mine – pick up the phone!

    One of the casualties resulting from the growth of technology in communications is that we often end up removing the person, the real person, from the equation. Email, texting, tweeting have made it so easy to avoid the “real” in communications – I’m talking about the conversation. No sharing of mood (sorry, emoticons don’t count), personality, or understanding of the true nature of the message. Calling someone on the phone has become a big deal – as in taking a lot of effort.

    How often have you read an email that leaves you thinking the author is angry with your organization, angry with you, or just plain rude? In many cases when you talk with the person to discuss their message, you realize they are neither angry, nor rude – just not a very good writer.

    Email is often a poor form of communication at best, one that can easily be misinterpreted. Misunderstood messages often lead to nasty exchanges that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

    Do you want to make an impact that lasts longer than the time it takes to compose an email and then have the recipient move that message to a “black hole” folder? Institute a no email day, at least for yourself. Once a week, once a month – it doesn’t matter. Start with a commitment you can build from. Start with yourself and then engage your staff to join you.

    The Starting Point

    Where do you start? Look in your inbox. Select someone you have only communicated with through email or have not spoken with in quite some time. Look in your database and identify members who have not been contacted by anyone from your association in a while. Call members coming up for renewal. Call (former) members who have let their membership lapse (a tougher conversation, for sure). Call a member when they receive an accolade, professional or otherwise. Call a vendor or sponsor to let them know how valuable they are to the ongoing success of your association. I guarantee you, there is a lot of low hanging fruit you and your staff can pick.

    Now you’re ready to enjoy the opportunity of making a real connection. Maybe there is no one there to take your call and you end up leaving a message on their voice mail. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Either way your voice on the line says “I care about YOU.” That always makes a difference. Start dialing!

    It’s not just business, it’s personal.

    About Rick

    As YourMembership’s Industry Resource Director, Rick guides YM’s thought leadership initiatives, directing the company’s Resource Center, weekly blog and monthly webinar series, as well as coordinates YM’s Industry Alliance Program.

    Rick has worked in the association industry for more than 29 years, serving as a vendor partner, staff member, and co-founder of a technology company focused on associations. Rick previously served as the Communications Director for the Texas Society of Association Executives, where he received a Gold Circle Award from ASAE.
    @ricknatx

  • Friday, January 01, 2016 8:35 PM | Deleted user

    Posted By Administration, Friday, Jan 1, 2016

    By Rick Rutherford
    Industry Resource Director, YourMembership

    It’s not easy to identify ways to make the value of membership offerings resonate with young professionals, but every association and membership organization will need to develop offerings that will attract them as members in order for their organizations to sustain. And the good news is that it can be done.

    In our webinar Flipping the Membership Equation: Thinking Differently About Membership Recruitment and Retention we discussed the need for associations to redesign their membership offerings to remain competitive and relevant to Gen X and Gen Y in today’s economy. Associations have been wrestling with questions around membership and dues for years, but like with everything, technology’s need to address this subject is accelerating.

    Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age in staggering numbers, ten thousand people reach age 65 every day, and this trend will continue through 2020. By 2018, one in four workers will be over age 55.

    Technology, and specifically the internet, has changed not only the way people access and purchase today, but it has also introduced a “try it before you buy it” expectation. There are many for-profit players working their way into the space, and at some point associations will need to take a hard look at what they are doing to keep their offerings fresh. Those organizations will need leaders who aren’t afraid to radically rethink business models or resources.

    “Flipping the Membership Equation” discussed these challenges and highlighted how moving from “Dues before Value” to “Value and then Dues” can be a workable business model for your organization.

    One area where we run into some lively conversation with association leaders is whether a job board/career center should be a “members only” benefit or open to any prospect wanting to post a resume and find a job. We almost always start out on the opposite sides of the question.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I understand the rationale behind “member only” areas for associations. After all, there has to be tangible value created by being a member of an organization to get someone to lay down their money to join. Market forces have taught us that scarcity and exclusivity are two of the key drivers behind a members only value proposition.

    Scarcity triggers an emotional response because we find it hard to resist wanting things that are not readily available. Many people have an innate view that scarcity increases value. They assume it is more valuable and of higher quality – because it’s harder to get.

    Exclusivity is also about availability, but from a different angle. Exclusive things are accessible only to people who meet particular criteria – like association members.  Scarcity and exclusivity can boost word of mouth about an organization by making people feel like insiders. If someone gains access to something that not everyone can, it makes him or her feel special. Gaining that insider knowledge is a form of social currency.

    And so, on the surface, the thought of members having exclusive access to great job opportunities through a “members only” job board appears to fit the bill. Except for one basic reality about job boards – it’s always a numbers game.

    By numbers I am referring to the number of job seekers registered on a job board; how those numbers are compelling to employers looking for places to list their open positions and the significant non-dues revenue available through an association career center.

    When we call employers on behalf of the associations we work with, they almost always want to know how many people are members and what percentage of those members are registered job seekers on the job board. If that percentage is low, it is a much tougher sell to get that job posting. However, if you allow prospects to register and post their resumes on your job board that number can increase significantly. Remember, the more registered job seekers, the more valuable that job board becomes to employers. Their goal is to get that listing in front of as many qualified eyeballs as possible.

    And as an added benefit, prospects registering on an association’s career center have given permission through their registration, for you to market to them directly. That conversation takes on a whole new direction when you are able to identify how they are already taking advantage of the products and services your organization provides.

    There are some associations that don’t really seem to care if they charge for job listings or not. These groups will allow members and employers to post job openings for a minimal fee, or even at no charge. By taking this approach they are denying their organizations valuable non-dues revenue that could have a positive impact on their bottom line.

    Experience tells us that employers are more than willing to pay to list and advertise their targeted opportunities to members and prospective members, all while creating a steady stream of non-dues revenue for the association. By posting jobs on an association’s job board, employers gain exclusive access to the best, most qualified candidates, consisting of engaged, (career-minded) professionals with the degrees, certifications, and experience needed to increase quality of hire and candidate success. Online career centers connect an association’s members and prospects to the top employers and opportunities within their industry, helping to build greater member loyalty and engagement. And most importantly, these associations are growing their influence as the trusted resource for career seekers as they continue to provide access to career opportunities within their industry.

    So while association’s “members only” offerings are not going away, your job board is one area where you may want to reconsider making available to anyone in your industry. The value it creates for employers, prospects, members, and your bottom line most likely outweighs any perceived value that exists by making your job board a gated offering.

    About Rick

    As YourMembership’s Industry Resource Director, Rick guides YM’s thought leadership initiatives, directing the company’s Resource Center, weekly blog and monthly webinar series, as well as coordinates YM’s Industry Alliance Program.

    Rick has worked in the association industry for more than 29 years, serving as a vendor partner, staff member, and co-founder of a technology company focused on associations. Rick previously served as the Communications Director for the Texas Society of Association Executives, where he received a Gold Circle Award from ASAE.
    @ricknatx

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