Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

The Differential is the Valuable Feature of Membership (703 words)

Price differential the real feature of membership.

It’s very interesting that a lot of association executives association volunteer leaders and others seem to think that the feature of membership or the benefit of membership is something like…the meeting or other things in which Members can participate.


Here’s the thing…if non-Members can participate also, then that activity truly is not a feature membership.

What is the feature of membership, it’s the differential and I think this is the thing that we really have to look at…the price differential in every product and service you offer.


Consider Anti-Trust Law

The United States Federal anti-trust law basically states that you cannot compel membership in the price of any product or service. What that effectively means is this…you cannot charge a non-member more for a product or service than is equal to or more than the cost of membership.


If your membership, as an example, is annually $500 and you charged $500 more, let’s say, for your meeting registration to a non-member than a member, technically you’d be compelling membership. This behavior would put your organization in a non-defensible situation should anybody bring litigation against you.


Now chances are, if you have this practice of charging a higher differential than is the cost of membership or, if you have this practice of rolling in a free membership with your meeting to pay that differential…there is a good chance you’ll never get hit with litigation against you. There is also good chance the Federal Government will never initiate litigation.


What Percentage Differential?

However, if a competitor did, or if a vendor did, or a sponsor did, or a disgruntled Member…you would most likely be in indefensible position. With this in mind, let’s talk about differential pricing and the way that should safely work for you. Basically, a safe differential it’s about 75% to 80% of the membership cost. The Federal Government doesn’t explicitly state an exact number, but association law lawyers say there’s indication that approximately 75% to 80% of the of the cost of membership is a fair differential.


This also means, for organizations where membership priced low, especially like professional societies, there is not as much differential to work with. If membership in your organization is $100…we are talking about a $75 or $80 differential maximum in the products and services you offer…that’s it.


I realize this can be frustrating but here is a beacon of hope, a ray of sunshine, a silver lining in this cloud…and that is…you can charge the differential on everything it’s not collective, it’s not cumulative, it’s for every product and every service.


You can have that differential of about 75% of the cost of membership on everything. You might be thinking that’s a lot of money for people to buy these things and not be a member. Absolutely, and the really important point here is that every time your member registers for a meeting, attends a webinar, buys a product or service from you, they will see that there is this 75% differential or savings between their member price and the non-member price. This will cause them to have a mental conversation with themselves about the value of their membership in the organization. This is an important part of the member value equation.


If you build the pricing differential with purpose and strategy, every member in your organization is going to see a substantial savings over non-member pricing. They will experience this valuable savings on everything. When this occurs, you’re going to be able to do qualitative research on the real-dollar value of membership. My book, The ROI of Membership goes deeply into the subject. It’s all about on how to prove the return on investment in actual dollar numbers to members.


Engaged Members

If you’ve got members that are engaged and they’re participating in quite a number of activities and in all of these for-fee activities they’re enjoying a 75% discount differential off the cost because of membership, they’re jumping for joy.


Focus of the total value proposition members receive and you’ll keep your members. And, you’ll also start noticing your current and satisfied members will be your prime source for new members…they will become your member recruitment evangelists.

The 5 Steps

How to Devastate Your Member Value Proposition in Five Easy Steps (481 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Remove Member Value in 5 Easy Steps

Devastating your organization’s member value proposition is quite easy if you follow my below listed five steps. These steps will help you to create a bankruptcy of member value in your organization.

  1. Give your printed and/or online magazine to non-members.

    Sure you advocate that by giving it away potential members will see the value and join. How’s that working for you? You say my organization makes a lot of money from advertisers so maximum distribution is necessary. All this might be true, however what you are telling your members is they do not matter. No need to hold membership as you can get the value as a non-member.

  2. Don’t have any member-only activities at your conference.

    By now we should all realize that our “open” meetings are not a feature of membership because non-members can also attend. So the true member benefit is only the discount on registration your members receive. By not having member-only activities at your meeting, you successfully minimize the member value. You say that having member-only activities would aggravate the non-members and make them feel like second class citizens. I answer, ABSOLUTELY. Because, if you were to offer member-only activities that benefit only members, non-member attendees might be motivated to join your organization to get access…and who wants that?

  3. Keep chapter meetings open to non-members…forever.

    This is an excellent way, at the local level, to devastate member value. You say that it is important to keep the chapter meetings open to non-members so they can get a “taste” of the value. Fair enough, but only their first meeting. By continuing to allow non-members to continue to attend meetings they see that they do not need to join your organization to get the value. And your members will soon follow their lead and not renew their membership.

  4. Keep your member discounts slim to none.

    You definitely do not want to give your members a substantial and legal discount on all your products and services. It is far better to be equitable in the marketplace and provide the value to all. Stay away from showing the valuable discounts members receive on products and services. You do not want them to see that membership is a good financial decision.

  5. Give your proprietary content away.

    Sharing with the marketplace feels so good; you can really feel the love. As mentioned earlier, you believe that by sharing access to your website and your organization’s knowledge management system will lure non-members into membership. As the old saying goes, if you get the milk for free why in the world would you want to buy the cow?

Follow the above five steps and your organization’s member value proposition will effectively disappear, your members will disappear, your organization will fail and you can retire to working in your garden.

Otherwise, the key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Member WIIFM

Prove Membership is a Good Business Decision (695 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Prove Membership is a Good Business Decision

In order for your organization to prove membership is a good business decision, you first have to survey your members. This can be tricky of you are not familiar with qualitative research. Qualitative (focus group) gives you richer and more accurate information than quantitative (online survey) because in a live situation…everyone is sequestered. Unfortunately today, most people zone-out after the first five questions or sooner if they cannot accurately respond based on the formatted answer capability.

Get Membership ROI in Real Numbers

In your effort to effectively prove membership is a good business decision, you will have to demonstrate to members and non-members alike the “what’s in it for them” in dollar numbers. The days of “join because you should” disappeared with the iPod. Your members and prospective members want you to be able to tell them in definitive terms…what’s my return on membership?

Focus group methodology is the most efficient and effective approach to answering the “prove membership is a good business decision” question.

Steps to Proving Membership is a Good Business Decision:

  1. Gather a focus group at your annual meeting or do a “traveling show” and organize a few sessions across the country. About 35 is a great number to have in attendance. Less or more is perfectly acceptable…however approximately 35 is a great number. Include:
    1. Newer, mid-term and longer-term member diversity
    2. Company size member diversity
    3. Generational member diversity
    4. Geographical member diversity
    5. Gender member diversity
    6. Ethnic member diversity
    7. For international organizations, also include county member diversity
  2. Have a list of all the “member-only” features of membership pre-loaded onto a PowerPoint slide. This would EXCLUDE benefits that are extended to non-members. Things like advocacy and publications distributed to everyone in the industry. Also, your meeting is not a feature of membership but rather the discount on registration is. Or perhaps, member-only events at the meeting.
  3. Go through each feature with the attendees explaining how this feature might save them money, save them time, save them from a regulatory fine, save them from a bad business deal, help them to gain an economic opportunity/new customer. Ask them to determine what those savings have been worth in real dollars.
  4. Now it is time for the crowd-negotiation. The facilitator must help guide the group to navigate the tumultuous waters of some people saying a feature is worth $10,000 and some saying it is worth $10. That is a skill in itself. You are basically looking for a number in the “middle” that “most” in the room can live with. I like to ask, “Can you sell/explain this number to a prospect? If most say yes…add that number next to the feature in your PowerPoint slide. (Audiences love watching this process reveal itself by watching the numbers added.)
  5. Do this exercise for all the “member-only” features of membership. Generally there will be 20-30 features to be measured.
  6. If your organization offers company membership then the above gets a little trickier as you will need to determine which of the features are available to multiple employees. You will also need to determine an “average number” of employees across the group. Then take the dollar number determined for a particular feature and multiply it times the average numbers of employees. It is common for not all features to be available to all employees.
  7. After you have valuated each feature, add them up. For a “total value” number.
  8. Now divide the cost of membership into the “total value” number for ROI multiplier.
  9. You can now state to the member ROI to your industry

Sell the Value

Communicate that membership is a good business decision by proving in actual dollar numbers by stating, “Our members have told us that, on average, for every dollar they invest in membership they get X (insert your ROI number here) dollars back in usable products and services.” This clearly proves that membership is a good business decision.

Turn your engaged members into member recruitment evangelists by developing marketing materials that prove membership is a good business decision. Make it easy for your members to recruit their friends and colleagues.

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Member ROI

Member Perception of Value (477 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Member Perception of Value = Return on Investment (ROI)

My work over the last 20+ years has revealed to me that the member perception of value is paramount. What members (or prospective members) believe is all that matters.

Associations frequently do a good job of creating member value, but not such a good job of communicating that value in a way that matters to members. It is a particular skill set to be able to write influencing (sales) copy. Most association marketers write about the features of membership but forget to tell the member or prospect how those features will make their life better. (It is all about me :>) Everyone wants an exceptional return on their investment (ROI) of time and money, but how many association marketing and/or communication pieces clearly demonstrate that. (Not many.)

What many association executives do not understand is that is is a “relationship bank” issue in member perception of value. Making no, or few, deposits throughout the year equals bankruptcy–but at the end of the year association executives try to take a withdrawal (ask for renewal) when there’s nothing in the bank. Crazy, isn’t it? How can you expect to drink from an empty glass? Funny how some think they can.

Qualitative research, specifically the Member ROI Valuation Process reveals member perception of value…helping association staff and volunteer leaders to determine what products and services to sunset and what to keep. If something you do only benefits a very few, why are you spending resources in that area? Invest your organization’s resources (time and money) in things that benefit MOST of your members.

Developing Strategic Alliances by Ed Rigsbee

Developing Strategic Alliances by Ed Rigsbee

Build it and they will come…but only if you build it correctly (member expectations) and do an excellent job of communicating why it is in their best interest to come (not the association’s best interest). In my book, “Developing Strategic Alliances” I when into great detail about relationship bank deposits. Key for this discussion is an understanding of what creates value for the other? If you develop something your members and/or prospects do not want–you get frustrated that they do not take advantage and they get frustrated because your are shouting from the rooftops about something in which they have no interest.

To earn my Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential, I had to understand the SPIE model: Scan, Plan, Implement, Evaluate and so do you. Scan what your market offers and what your customers (members) want. Then develop a plan to build it. Now build it. After you build it, review–did they really want it? Did you build it correctly? Did you market it correctly? It’s all about member perception of value.

Build it correctly and tell your market how it will make their life better…and they will come because they believe in the member perception of value that you have created.

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Member Growth through Value

Improve Your Member Value Proposition for Total Organizational Growth (788 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Improve Your Member Value Proposition

Member value proposition is what most new and current members want. Your member value proposition is determined by the beliefs, perspectives and emotional connection of members to the organization, its staff and volunteer leaders. The other side of that coin is how the industry, in general, perceives your organization. If operatives in your industry thought membership in your organization was a great deal, then they would already be members.


Member Communication: inform or influence

This is an area where every organization can improve. The vast majority of stories in your Member Communication fall short of influencing members as the stories mostly inform. The difference is in how a story is written, most of the stories are not written through the window of “what’s in it for the member” and therein we find the rub—this angle is what can cause a member’s perception of value to change for the positive—or the negative.


How to Write Benefit Copy

Just offering a superior member value proposition is not enough. Your organization must clearly communicate your member value proposition in order to attract new members.

  1. First determine what is being sold. It should be one of 4 things for your Communication: product, event, member recruitment or member retention
  2. Then determine which feature of membership (from your member benefits web page) the thing being sold is.
  3. Next determine which buying motive is at play: profit/gain, fear of loss, avoidance of pain, love/affection, comfort/pleasure or pride/prestige. Many times there can be more than one buying motive but pick one for simplicity.
  4. Now write copy explaining the “what’s in it for the reader,” why they should care and include a call to action statement.
  5. Last, write the title of the story or promotional copy using one of the following perspectives: shocking, ask a question, offer data, create a value statement or reveal a secret.


Qualitative Focus Group Research

To find out what your current members believe is the member value proposition that they receive in actual dollar numbers you will want to conduct a series of Member ROI Valuation focus group sessions utilizing qualitative research methodology. This is an excellent starting point for boosting your value proposition.


Strategy Mapping Exercise

The strategy mapping exercise is your next step of discovery as you want to compare your organization’s member value proposition to that of competing organizations. This exercise allows leaders to compare with the various competing organizations—those that also compete for membership dollars, mindshare and value perception of people in your industry. Ideally, in contrast to the below example, the lines would not track but rather demonstrate vast differences.

Non-Profit Strategy Mapping Visual Example

Non-Profit Strategy Mapping Visual Example

Features Framework Exercise

The third step is to conduct the features of membership framework exercise—first with staff—then with volunteer leaders and overlay the three pieces. This will create visual impact for staff and volunteer leaders as to what is helping and hurting your organization’s member value proposition. The step-by-step “how to” can be found starting on page 88 of The ROI of Membership.


Getting all the Departments in Alignment

Every department at your organization must use new decision filters. The important filter to add is the “decision filter” of how the actions considered will affect positively or negatively the organization’s member value proposition, return on investment, member retention and recruitment. Each department has to align toward making your organization more member-ROI-centric.


The Hard Truth

Accepting change and shifting your organization’s culture is something that will be difficult. Sure, the volunteer leaders and paid staff give the member value proposition idea lip-service and “embrace” the new but when push comes to shove, they fall back into their “non-productive” comfort zones and eschew the necessary change. This is the fulcrum point where you might be currently failing. This is where all the above work becomes mute, meaningless, and a waste of time as the players in your organization thinks they are changing but in reality is only getting ready to get ready. What most people in this situation are really saying is that they agree that others should change but they themselves want to hold on to control because they know better than the others.


Embrace Change Management

If you truly desire to push past the current “failure point” and move into a new era of high-level member value proposition, everyone from the executive director and president to the newest section leader needs to be on-board because membership is everyone’s business. Now here’s the difficult part of the equation, if there are volunteer leaders and or staff pushing back—there is no longer a place for them in the organizational chart. Yes, a staff member that is not willing to play the new game must leave the organization and for the volunteer leaders—they must give up their positions. Are you willing to go to these lengths to grow? Think hard before you answer as you will be held accountable—not by Ed Rigsbee—but by your conscience, integrity and morality.

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Member ROI

When Sponsor and Member ROI Clash (589 words)

I recently had a discussion with an executive director of a construction industry association. The discussion revolved around giving members more value. Through my querying about this association’s member ROI activities, I discovered that this association was putting on seminars and charging non-members the same price as members. Hmmm…

Challenging Perceptions

Challenging this association leader, I pointed out that this practice is truly a membership disincentive rather than a vehicle for delivering member ROI. He countered with his belief that it was a good way to recruit members, suggesting that non-member attendees might join the association after attending an event or two. Asking about the associations recruitment numbers, it appeared to me that the premise was erroneous. After a long discussion, I held to my belief about this practice delivering effectively zero value to his members—then the admission was finally revealed.

The Truth Will Set You Free

This association leader finally admitted that a vendor pays for everything and gets maximum value when more people from the industry attend. The vendor is naturally looking for customers—fair enough. Are the seminars put on by this association really a member benefit? Absolutely not; the seminars are primarily a vendor benefit. While there is nothing wrong with extracting sponsorship dollars from vendors, please do not confuse sponsorship revenue with delivering member ROI. If the non-member pays the same price, there is no additional value in membership delivered during this scenario.

Pick a Lane

To deliver honest yearly sustainable real-dollar value for your members, you must deliver services that are (a) not available to non-members or (b) priced at such a differential that joining the association is a logical and good business decision. The challenge here is when the association executive tries to create a hybrid—you’ve really got to pick a lane. Delivering bottoms in seats for vendors is a far cry from developing member needed seminars with a proper pricing structure. Being redundant—I’ll repeat that I have no issue with generating additional vendor revenues—go for it. However, realize that these activities do not create perceived member ROI and are not motivators when you ask your members to renew their memberships.

The Advocacy Delusion

This one is the most difficult for association staff and volunteer leadership to stomach. Association sponsored legislative advocacy serves the industry, but does not necessarily deliver direct member ROI to association members. If non-members and members alike receive the same benefit, then there is no way that the advocacy can be called a member benefit. If certain information and/or access is only available to members, then that is a completely different situation—one that does deliver real-dollar member ROI.

Member ROI Positioned Activities

After a decade of conducting my Member Value Process for quite a number of associations and societies, and listening to countless members describe what creates value for their lives—I can state, with complete confidence: Within every service, activity, or product, associations and societies must build a price or access differential favoring the paid members verses the other industry non-members. This is not always easy to do. I site the above seminar example as proof—the association selected to accept the vendor revenue over delivering real-dollar value to the members. While there are always shades of gray in exploring this issue, my recommendation is that you error on the side of delivering member value. The other option only delivers continued membership hemorrhaging. With a little effort, all associations and societies can position all activities and offerings to deliver great member ROI.

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Project Association Member Value (581 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

The ROI of Membership

Does a professional or trade association exist to serve its members? How about to serve the profession or industry? Or, perhaps the association exists to perpetuate itself?

Sure, your answer is based on your personal experiences. Unfortunately though, I have come to believe that there are simply too many people involved in association leadership today that believe in self-survival. Many of these leaders do not consciously realize they believe that the reason for an association is to perpetuate itself. Yet, their actions in this area speak so loudly that few listen to their words.

I recently visited the web site of ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership and searched “member value” but what I found was more directed to the organizational side. My lack of finding information specific to “member value” strengthens my assertion. Sure I found great information on subjects like: Identifying program goals and setting realistic expectations, identifying and defining the needs of the target audience, developing program structure, building a budget and cross-selling and up-selling additional programs and services.

While these topics are all great tactics, what about the overarching strategy for an association? What about quantifying the real dollar value a member receives from holding membership in an association? This is an area that I have discovered many association leaders are missing the point. There are a few people left that join their trade or professional association because it is the right thing to do in supporting their industry. But, at corporate belt tightening continues, many are re-evaluating the value of such memberships.

Call me crazy, but I believe that a professional or trade association exists exclusively for the betterment of its members. Associations like these are really industry-wide strategic alliances. And, for strategic alliances to succeed, all involved must receive reasonable value for resource (time and money) commitment to the alliance. In associations, staff members receive value—it’s called a paycheck. Volunteer leaders receive value through exposure and having the ability to forward their particular agendas. But, what about the “rank and file” members—where’s their value?

If you are interested in this topic of member value, you’re in luck.

I have conducted my Association Member Value Process for a number of trade associations and societies of association executives over the years. The results might be helpful to you in benchmarking the value your association delivers to its members.

In visiting seven societies of association executives from October 2003 through May 2004 and conducting the process: On the average, association executives received 19X return on investment dollar from their membership. Average yearly membership and meeting participation cost—$914. The average yearly real-dollar value received—$17,390.

In visiting the national conventions of four trade associations from February through May 2004 and conducting the member value process, the average yearly member return on investment was 12 X. The average yearly membership and meeting participation cost—$2,250. The average yearly real-dollar value received—$27,800.

A huge study I conducted for the American Society for Quality (finished in 2007) revealed that their members get $50 dollars in value for every dollar they invest in their membership.

Association paid staff and volunteer leaders must continually question the yearly sustainable real-dollar value their members are receiving rather than just see members as an ATM (automatic teller machine). Without the members, there is no association.

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Association Members Ask, “What’s In It For Me?” (973 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

The ROI of Membership

Has attendance dropped at your association meetings? Has your membership numbers contracted? If you honestly answer either of the above questions in the affirmative, you are not alone. Both association executives and their boards of directors are asking, “What do we do about our shrinking membership?”

Your membership and meeting attendance could be decreasing because of the economy, industry consolidations, 9/11 or perceived value. The only one of these reasons over which you have some control is the last on my list—value.

Over the last half-decade, many association executives and boards have been lured into complacency by the opiate, or narcotic, of good times and a strong business environment. Many companies started sending a greater number of employees to their industry meetings as a reward rather than as an educational experience. Now many of those companies are sending fewer people. Many associations have found their potential pool of members decreasing because of numerous industry consolidations, mergers or acquisitions. Many associations have forgotten about value.

Recently, for a regional association, I delivered a morning keynote presentation followed later that afternoon by facilitating an industry roundtable discussion. As I generally do when I facilitate a discussion, I asked the attendees to put on the flipchart what was most on their mind in reference to their industry. Then I asked them to weigh the importance of each of the items on the list. This group put their association membership on the top. This association had just a bit over 10% of the possible membership available to join. It was a problem because of the strength they would need for coming legislative issues.

I suggested to the attendees that there are basically two kinds of people that join associations and attend association meetings. First, like most of the people in the room that day, are the industry members that support their association regardless of the quality of the meeting or its location. Then there are the others, they generally expect to get more out of the association than they put into it. They expect that the synergy of the collaborative event will deliver a greater amount of value to them than they pay in dollars and time.

To bring back association backsliders from their disappearance and abandonment, it is time for every association executive and their board members to ask, “How do we deliver more value and how do we show the value we currently offer?” The first part of the question will be different for each association based on the specific needs of the players in their industry. The second part of the question was the subject of the roundtable discussion I mentioned earlier.

First I asked the cost of membership, and then I asked the attendees to tell me what their association did for them. As we listed on the flipchart the valuable services this association delivered to its members, I also asked them to assign realistic dollar values to each item. For this regional association, the cost of membership and attendance at the two semi-annual meetings was pegged at approximately $1,600. After less than an hour, the group came up with membership value in real dollars at $5,800. Had we have had more time; I believe the membership value number would have been higher.

I believe the best way for an association to grow its membership is through a one to one method; that is one current member bring in a new or lost member each year. Realistically, not all members will do this, but many will. Wouldn’t you like a 20%, 30% or more increase in membership, and revenues for your association? I suggested to the roundtable attendees that their association could produce an Association Value brochure and/or a Value PowerPoint presentation to help current members show other owners in their industry the value of association affiliation. This would help the current members to more easily articulate the reasons for their personal emotional ownership in their association. Give ‘em the right tools, and people will amaze you with their results.

As a primer for your own Member Recruitment Brochure email ed@rigsbee.com for a template (to prove that membership is a good business decision), listed below are the actual services and real-dollar values offered to me by the group:

  • $1,000 for industry specific technical training offered twice a year.
  • $1,000 for business, management and marketing training twice a year.
  • $300 for monthly legislative updates.
  • 1,000 for coupons for goods and services offered by the national organization with national and regional membership.
  • $600 for legal seminars offered twice a year.
  • $200 networking value at semi-annual meetings.
  • $300 tax savings on income spent attending vacations (meetings).
  • $500 for mentoring opportunities available through meeting attendance.
  • $200 for product knowledge gained at meetings.
  • $200 for company credibility and image associated with membership.
  • $300 for education in accessing local publicity.
  • $200 for publicity and exposure through association membership.

Perhaps you might argue with some of the specific dollar values listed above? That’s fine because you now have bought into the value idea, now you are just haggling over the actual amounts. If prospective association members or industry leaders, quibble over the actual value amounts—that’s great too, because they have also bought into the value idea. Any smart business leader can see that it makes good business sense to join their industry association and receive $5,800 worth of value for a small investment of $1,600.

Remember, your association has control over the amount of value offered to its membership. Perhaps your members, armed with the right recruitment tools, can help industry players that are non-members in perceiving a higher value in association membership? Give ‘em the right tools, and perhaps your members will amaze you too?

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

How Much Member ROI Does American Society for Quality Deliver to Its Members? (544 words & table)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

The ROI of Membership

The quick answer is a bunch! However, that is not the kind of answer that quality professionals generally desire. Today, armed with three years of data, I believe a have a substantive answer to this question.

Over three consecutive years (2005-2007), ASQ invited me to attend the World Conference on Quality and Improvement to conduct two sessions per conference of my Member Value ProcessTM. A random sampling of ASQ member, conference registrants, was invited to the sessions. This is a process, one that includes art and science, in which I draw from a representative sample of ASQ members, their belief as to how much dollar value they receive from their ASQ membership on an annual basis. This gives a return on investment (ROI) number for the attendees.

Most ASQ members spend under $200 per year on their membership and they receive about $10,500 in return for their investment. That’s over $50 in return for every dollar spent in ASQ membership. In anybody’s book, that’s enormous

ASQ membership, spend a dollar and get fifty back—it’s a No-Brainer.

Now that I’ve made such an outrageous statement, I had better prove myself. Listed below are the actual yearly sustainable, real dollar value numbers from the six sessions:

  • 2005 Session 1 — $8,100
  • 2005 Session 2 — $5,150
  • 2006 Session 1 — $14,919
  • 2006 Session 2 — $13,550
  • 2007 Session 1 — $9,750
  • 2007 Session 2 — $11,550

A grand total of $63,019, divided by the six sessions, equals $10,503 average yearly sustainable real dollar value that ASQ members receive. Divide the $10,503 yearly member value by the $200 yearly membership investment and you get 53 times the ROI. Rounded off, you get $50 dollars in return for every $1 you invest in your ASQ membership.

In each session, the specific value line items differed a bit, but there were some commonality among all six sessions. The top ASQ member value items were:

  1. Recognized Certification @ an average value of $2,583
  2. Networking @ an average value of $1,183
  3. Training @ an average value of $1,058
  4. Sections @ an average value of $1,042
  5. Opportunities for Involvement & Leadership @ an average value of $860
  6. Credibility with Customers @ an average value of $600
  7. Divisions/Forums @ an average value of $460
ASQ Value Item 2005-1 2005-2 2006-1 2006-2 2007-1 2007-2 Average/#
Recognized Certification 3000 1000 5000 1000 3000 2500 $2,583/6
Networking 2500 500 1000 2500 500 100 $1,183/6
Training 100 250 2500 2500 500 500 $1,058/6
Sections 500 500 1000 2500 250 1500 $1,042/6
Opportunities for Involvement & Leadership 1000 100 500 Included in Section 200 2500 $860/5
Credibility with Customers Not rated 250 100 0 750 250 $600/5
Divisions/Forums 500 Not rated 500 50 500 750 $460/5
Total ASQ Member Value Determined 8100 5150 14919 13550 9750 11550 $10,503/6

You might have noticed in the above information that no value was assigned to the World Conference; there is a reason for that. During the sessions, I specifically asked participants not to include the value of the annual conference. My reason for this is simple. ASQ has a membership of over 90,000 yet only one to two thousand attends the conference each year. While it is undeniable that the conference delivers huge value to all that attend, I wanted to determine the yearly sustainable, real dollar value that ASQ delivers to the lion’s share of its membership. Needless to say, your personal value could easily be much, much higher.

The next time a colleague, or your employer, asks about the value you receive from your ASQ membership, tell them that for every dollar invested, you get 50 back in value—now that’s value!

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.

Associations Deliver Value, But They Don’t Know How Much (Word count 486)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

The ROI of Membership

Trade associations and professional societies are wonderful industry or profession collaborations and deliver high value to their members. After a decade and a half, speaking at association and society conventions and board meetings, I can safely make the above statement. And I believe I can also safely say that most society and association staff and volunteer leadership do not have a clue as to the real dollar value their organization delivers to its members.

Are you an association volunteer leader? If so, tell me quickly the yearly sustainable real-dollar value you receive from your yearly investment of time and money? Can you do it? Most likely you cannot. If you are an association staff member, tell me the average yearly return on investment (ROI) your members receive. Can you do it? Most likely you cannot.

Demonstrating Value

While associations and societies have traditionally created plenty of value for their members, they have done quite a poor job of demonstrating the value that they deliver. For years, it did not matter. Why? Through the 1980s, people still joined their trade association or professional society simply because it was the thing to do. Most of those wonderful people have either retired or died off.

Today, younger persons ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” and unfortunately, organizations don’t have the answers. For several years now, I have been conducting my Member Value Process for associations and societies—they can answer my above questions of yearly sustainable real-dollar value received and ROI.

For about half a decade I have been talking to my association audiences about a 1999 study conducted by the American Society of Association Executives on why members do not retain their membership. My personal synthesizing of the data leads me to believe that over 75% of the members surveyed that did not renew their membership selected not to do so because they did not believe they were receiving enough value for their membership investment.

Association Member ROI

While no two associations are the same, I have listed below a few common line items of member benefits that should help you to have a better understanding as to the real-dollar amounts that organization members have assigned during my sessions. Remember, these“cumulative specific value information

” numbers are the yearly sustainable dollar-value amounts.

  1. Training & Education

–Range: $500 to $4,000

–Average: $1,857

  1. Industry Specific Research, Regulatory & Code

–Range: $1,000 to $4,750

–Average: $2,596

  1. Networking

–Range: $200 to $10,000

–Average: $4,029

  1. Professional Recognition, Image & Credibility

–Range: $200 to $5,000

–Average: $1,507

Telling your members what it is that you do for them is important. Telling them how much it is worth to them yearly is crucial for your success or that of any other trade association or professional society.