Your members are the heart of your association. Leaders in membership organizations and associations spend countless hours drafting communications, planning events, and nurturing these invaluable relationships.
But are your members getting everything they need out of their memberships? One recent survey showed that less than half (40%) of younger members felt what they received was worth their dues.
By enhancing your member experience and giving membership benefits that resonate, your association can maximize your member ROI. Some popular benefits you can consider providing members with include:
- Membership community and networking opportunities
- Mentorship program
- Job board
- Online membership directory
- Continuing education and certifications
- Conferences and workshops
- Virtual events
- Volunteer experiences
- Discounted or free industry publications or resources
1. Membership community and networking opportunities
According to Edge Research, the top reason that people join associations and member organizations is for potential job opportunities. That’s why it’s crucial to offer members access to a community and/or plenty of chances to network with other professionals in your industry.
So, make it as easy as possible for your members to connect with other members. Plan and promote regular networking events, like a speaker series or luncheons, that pulls plenty of members all into one room. You can host networking mixers at a casual venue like a coffee shop, local restaurant, or brewery to keep the vibe low-key. This kind of casual ambiance can help members feel less intimidated when approaching people they don’t know.
You can also take your networking efforts online. Create an online community that allows your members to chat with one another and discuss industry trends and issues.
2. Mentorship program
Go beyond basic networking opportunities in your organization. Your younger members may need additional assistance making productive connections in your industry to build their skills and further their career. That’s where a mentorship program can help.
Fill this gap by matching established members who are seasoned in their careers with younger upstarts. This is a huge value-add for members who are just getting started in their career or are looking for new ways to grow. Seasoned members can offer guidance on forging a career path, point to ways to upgrade their skills, and provide tips on how to handle negotiations.
3. Job board
As we mentioned previously, career opportunities are likely important to your current and prospective members. So make your membership benefits even more valuable by offering access to an exclusive job board for your industry.
For example, members can pay a small fee to post open roles on the job board for candidates in your industry. Or you can manage a job board that only members can access for exclusive opportunities.
This kind of job board is valuable for both members and job seekers, of course, but it’s yet another potential revenue stream for your organization as well.
4. Online membership directory
An online member directory is yet another chance for members to connect with each other. This kind of searchable, digitized list allows anyone to review prominent members who belong to your organization, find professionals in the same industry, and even refer customers to one another.
While those are reason enough, a member directory provides a number of advantages, including:
- A directory helps members expand their businesses. When your members can find one another easily, this can also serve as a source for referrals. For example: A chamber directory can help send your members’ businesses leads for business partnerships, open roles, and those needing a subject matter expert.
- A directory boosts your organization’s reputation. This type of online directory gives you the opportunity to tout your growing list of members. And, as aforementioned above, a public directory offers the opportunity to highlight or feature prominent members and their achievements.
- A directory adds to your digital footprint. A public list of all your members will earn you web traffic from a number of other sites. Let’s say that someone searches for Jane Smith, who happens to be one of your members. Your directory listing with Jane’s profile will probably appear in the list of search results.This kind of additional traffic, especially when compounded over hundreds or thousands of members, is ideal for building domain authority as part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
- A directory helps out your administrators. You can either make your membership directory private or public. Then your staff can use this searchable list to segment groups of members, keep up with member statuses, and send targeted communications.
5. Continuing education and certifications
According to a recent survey, the biggest reason younger members opt to join an organization is for ongoing education. And since many professions require certifications and additional education credits, this provides organizations the chance to meet this need for members.
As a membership benefit, provide extra value through ongoing education. Host informational webinars, online and in-person training, as well as certifications through online learning modules. That way, your members can stay current with their skills and even add new ones to their resume.
To beef up your educational offerings, you can use a learning management system to create your courses and promote your program as a great value-add for members.
6. Conferences and workshops
To offer large-scale networking and to help teach current and prospective members new skills, try hosting a conference or workshop. This could take the form of a single or multi-day event. You can provide opportunities for networking, speaker panels, and keynote speakers from your respective industry.
A conference or workshop that’s open to the public is a great way to highlight your membership benefits. It can also serve as a revenue stream for your organization. You just need robust conference and event management software to help you plan, promote, and execute your event.
7. Virtual events
While COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifting, the number of virtual events is only growing.
One recent report showed that 55% of organizers plan to invest even more in virtual events. Another survey shows that the virtual event market is expected to be worth $504.76 billion by 2028.
That’s at least partially due to the fact that virtual conferences are more inclusive, safe, and allow you to accommodate a wider audience. Virtual events allow your members (and prospective members) to attend and soak up all the valuable learnings, even if they couldn’t attend the event in-person.
It’s also relatively simple for associations to put together events, register attendees, and promote your conference all in one place with virtual event software.
8. Volunteer experiences
While your members may enjoy the aforementioned perks and swag, plenty of them likely also appreciate the chance to participate in charity work. According to a recent survey, 97% of younger association members said it was important for the organization’s mission to be committed to a greater good. Another 59% said it was very important.
So offer your members the opportunity to give back to your industry or community (or both). Plan and host a volunteer event, fundraiser for a charity, or partner up with a local nonprofit to give back.
This kind of charitable event builds awareness of your association, and demonstrates that you’re active with philanthropic efforts within your area.
9. Discounted or free industry publications or resources
Information is power—particularly for your members. That’s why one excellent benefit you can offer your members is free or discounted access to publications and resources.
Purchase subscriptions to the most popular and valuable industry publications, whether it’s a magazine, newspaper, or online publication. Then provide access to these publications to members so they can learn about industry trends, news, and interviews with movers and shakers.
Upgrading Your Own Membership Benefits
When it comes to recruiting new members and retaining current ones, offering membership benefits that resonate is one effective way to achieve both. With the options outlined above, your organization can provide benefits that offer the ROI your members need.
To help you spread the word about your outstanding membership benefits, you’ll also need a comprehensive membership management system. A platform like MemberClicks can help membership organizations and associations plan, promote, and administer all the perks you provide to members.
The right membership management system also helps you centralize many of the aforementioned membership benefits into one platform, including:
- Running your online member community
- Maintaining a searchable online member directory
- Building an industry-specific job board for members
- Administering ongoing education with learning management features
- Planning and promoting conferences and virtual events with event management tools
- Updating your organization’s site with a simple content management system
Request a demo today to learn about all the member benefits MemberClicks offers!