Meeting ROI and Member ROI are two completely different issues; however for associations and societies they are quite related. Recently, I have sat in on ROI webinars and read a number of articles on meeting ROI. Most of the work that I have experienced has been around particular formulas. The math is the easy part.
The missing element is the valuation methodology; most do not get into much detail here—I’ve asked. This is the important and more difficult part. Assigning real-dollar numbers to elements seems to be where much of the available ROI information falls short.
Meetings without Members
The primary challenge that associations and societies are experiencing is membership hemorrhaging. The reason for this is perceived value, or lack there of. Few organizations have been successful in their effort to determine the yearly sustainable real-dollar value of membership. Without an honest number there is no way to determine a truthful ROI of their membership dollar and time investment. It is difficult to have meetings without members.
For over a decade I have been teaching membership organizations a simple but honest method to determine the yearly sustainable real-dollar value that members receive from their membership investment. The method is simple—I ask them. In a real-time live environment, asking members what the various services that their organization delivers yields truthful answers.
Why not use technology?
The reason I do not believe in technology for this process is because the technology removes risk. I want members to own their valuation answers. I’m not looking for an average of blind numbers but rather a face-to-face discussion on the actual real-dollar value received from any particular organization delivered line item benefit.
The Missing Link
The link that I believe is missing in all the hoopla around meeting ROI is the membership ROI. Without members there is no meeting. Sure meeting ROI is a great number to have, however it is such a small part of the total equation. The meeting ROI math has no honest meaning without the total equation. Today, members of membership organizations are looking at the total value proposition of membership, not just the meeting ROI.
To discover the honest membership ROI that your organization delivers, you will want to conduct a facilitated session with a reasonable representation of your membership; demographics, psychographics, etc. The executive director, any paid staff member, or volunteer officer CANNOT be the facilitator, period!
Does it Work?
Yes! I have been working with associations and societies for over a decade, helping them to determine their yearly sustainable real-dollar membership investment ROI. It is this number that delivers the gold. It is this number that will help members to both recruit new members and remain members themselves.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.
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