Three Compelling Reasons Why They Won’t Join Your Association in 2018

By Holly Koenig

No matter what type of membership-based organization you manage, or what the costs of dues are, at the end of the day it’s all about value. If you don’t communicate that value, lots of luck getting them to engage, let alone join. Here are three easy mistakes associations are making that may be preventing those hot prospects from taking that leap to join:


Check out your registration rates structure. Is there a substantial difference between member and non-member rates? There should be. The mistake is thinking that if you make the gap too wide no guest will attempt to try out your group. Not true. Reward your loyal members, focus more on content, deliver value and the prospect will come. Widen that gap and it provides another reason why membership is the more affordable and valuable choice.


Do you permit non-members to volunteer for your association? If you answered yes, you need to rethink this process. Volunteering on committees should be reserved for dues-paying members only. We know it’s difficult to get the work done, but networking on a committee, gaining that exposure and access and having the ability to hone one’s leadership skills is a definite value add. If you’re being sympathetic or breaking the rules for former members who are between jobs or semi-retired, you’ll help them even more by taking the steps to create an affordable dues structure for them. It’s a win-win.


Did you actually make the “ask?” Any salesperson will tell you that the #1 reason for failing to make a sale is because they didn’t actually make the ask. A prospect attending your event, getting a guest ribbon or opening your blast email will never equate to being asked to join the association. People react to personal invitations. Use volunteer leaders and staff to create a conversion process with multiple touchpoints, before, during and after engagement.

Continue to show and provide value, incentives and loyalty to those who join your association. If it becomes a challenge to deliver the benefits message, then it’s probably your cue for strategic planning.

As a VP of Kellen, Holly Koenig is responsible for managing multiple associations, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals NYC Chapter and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She is currently on the NYSAE Board.