As amazing as your member benefits and association values are, membership dues can be a roadblock for potential members. And while there are many ways that you can help tear down this roadblock (discounted fees, payment plans, grants, etc.), one option is to educate potential members on employer-paid membership dues. Do employers pay for professional membership fees? This may be news to you as an association professional, (and if it’s news to you then it could most definitely be news to your potential members) but employers and companies do, can and will (in many cases) pay professional membership fees for their employees. A 2019 study by SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) of 2,763 members found that 77% of their organizations paid for professional membership dues for their employees. Why would they do that? Paying dues for their employees often fall under the category of professional development. Professional associations are often focused on: Professional development of soft and hard skills Exposure to different and new ways of working and thinking Networking with other professionals in and out of their field Being in tune with industry changes and best practices At the end of the day, growing professional directly contributes back to the work that employee does at for their company. And what employer doesn’t want their employees to be the best they can be? Professional development is a big selling point for keeping employees engaged and happy, too. The LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report from 2018 found that 93% of employees would stay at their company longer if they felt their employer was invested in their career development. So, paying for professional memberships is even good practice for employee retention. Sharing this information with potential members There are 2 essential ways you can communicate this information with potential members. You can pick one or use both. 1. Talk about this option often and in different ways Having employers pay membership dues can be blog topics, webinar programs, topics in newsletters or even on social media. If you talk about this option often and on different platforms, you can help more people learn that this is an option. Plus, this benefits not just potential members, but current members too! Because current members can go to their employers and ask them to cover their renewal fee. 2. Have it as part of your informational / onboarding process When a potential new member reaches out for more information, you can explicitly mention employer-paid-dues as an option. You can even include it as a note on your member application or pricing page. (Plus, if you have any blogs or additional info about it, you can link them to it then!) Help your members have this convo Knowing that some employees pay dues and opening up that convo between you and your potential / current members I just one small step. The big leap is in the conversation between that member and their employee. You can be a big support for them in this step (which is another great way to show your value as an association they should join). Here’s our tips for you to share with them. 1. Start with the why “What” usually comes before the “why”, but in this case, kickstarting the conversation with the value they’re hoping to gain (and then bring to their employer) is a great way to grab their attention right off the bat. In some situations, starting with the “what” makes sense, but in this particular situation, starting For example, a professional may want to start out by saying something along the lines of… “I’m really interested in developing professionally. As you know, the industry is constantly changing – in terms of technology, regulations, best practices, and all that – and I want to make sure I stay on top of those things so that I can do my job to the best of my ability.” Employers want their staff members to be effective in their jobs, so hearing this should peak their interest. 2. Hit on the what…but keep it simple Once they have stated the “why” value (and even hinted at a potential worse-case-situation of falling behind in the industry), it’s then important to state what it is they’re actually asking for (also a to this potential problem they’ve hinted at. In this case, the “what” is joining an association to keep on top of trends. This is where it’s important to go over the details and cover… What the organization they want to join (your organization) does How much a membership costs What that membership includes (highlighting member value they can then bring back to their job Now that last point is super important for a following reason: If an employer isn’t too familiar with how professional memberships work, they may think the dues cover everything – webinars, conference registration, etc. Many organizations don’t operate that way, so it’s just important to be transparent about that up front so that there aren’t any surprises, and consequently, resentment. (After all, the goal here isn’t just to get approval once, but rather, year after year.) Plus, diving into this shows that they did their research and put thought into this pitch. 3. Make it about the team and the company The more people this membership will benefit, the more likely the employer is to approve it. So, to close out the conversation and really drive home the advantages, the professional may want to say something along the lines of… “I’d be more than happy to share what I learn with the team. I could send out my notes, share updates in meetings, and even host lunch and learns, if that would be beneficial.” But note: Follow-through here is a MUST. Employees should only commit to what they’ll actually deliver on. Template: Asking your supervisor to pay for your dues Are you trying to find the right words to help convince your member’s employers to cover your association dues? Look no further! Check out our template that will help your members sway their employer from “no way” to “okay”! < date > Dear < supervisor’s name >, I’m requesting your approval to < become a member / renew my membership > of < x association >. As you may know, < x association > is one of the main associations for the < your industry >, with more than < x amount > of members from around the < state / region / country / world >. < X association > continues to be a leading force by educating fellow industry professionals about < x topics > via online resources, professional conferences, and monthly webinars and luncheons. An individual membership fee costs just < x price > and grants me immediate access to the following: < benefit 1 > < benefit 2 > < benefit 3 > < benefit 4 > < benefit 5 > I genuinely believe that this membership would be a wise investment into our organization and would positively impact our processes and my own professional development. I look forward to hearing from you soon to discuss! Best, < your signature here > Membership retention is the engine that keeps your organization running…but is your renewal process up to the task? If membership turnover is an issue at your association, allow us to help. Employer-paid dues: Good for your members. Good for you. Hopefully these tips will help you communicate employer-paid dues to your members (potential and existing) and help them run their pitch. Then, when the employer approves, you’ve kickstarted your relationship with your new member on a high note. But remember, to get to this point, you have to successfully market your organization. You have to get the word out to prospects and make it so compelling they’ll want to take action. Check out our Small Staff Guide to Association Marketing to help you amp up your marketing plan. We’ve also got a guide for new member onboarding to help you continue to build those relationships from the start.