Tag Archive for: Member ROI Valuation

Member ROI Valuation for Recruitment at Associations and Societies (1279 words)

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process

Learn the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process for non-profit membership growth.

The Problem:

For trade associations and professional societies, identifying the value your members want without the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process can be a bit like threading a needle in the back of a Jeep, while crossing granite boulders, at 40 miles per hour—but it doesn’t have to be. Associations and societies exist to serve the interests of the participants or stake holders in their industry or profession—it is that simple.

Yet, extenuating factors, erroneous or not, frequently muddy up the waters of association or society focus. A very good argument could be made for the idea that too many association or society activities serve merely the vocal few in leadership. A convincing argument could be made for the idea that associations and societies focus too keenly on self-perpetuation. I am not going to make arguments in this article for these ideas but rather share my observation from two decades working with trade associations and professional societies.

Large associations tend to have a turnstile of employees. Young wide-eyed graduates with diploma in hand, go to work for associations or professional societies with dreams of making a difference. Then, they either become disillusioned or move somewhere else for career advancement. Frequently these young staffers start in member services department. Hence the problem—by the time they learn their job, they have moved on. The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process can solve this problem by having stable and usable member value numbers for all staff and volunteer leaders.

Conversely, in the small associations, run by the executive director and perhaps a couple part-time staffers, there just is never enough time to follow up on those inquiries of potential members. Either the interested party must join on their own accord by filling out the membership application found at the Web Site by clicking the “Join” button or move on. This two decade old observation was painfully reinforced recently. The example I’m about to share, believing it or not, did occur.

One of my avocations is being the CEO of an IRS recognized non-profit public charity https://cigarpeg.com/. I recently decided that it would be good for me to join a related association so I called two California State Associations, one for association executives and one specifically for non-profits. As of the writing of this article, I have joined neither.

One of the two, I called and left a message with the membership person; she returned my call and left a voice message. That was the last time I heard from that association and it has now been a while. The second, I chatted with their membership person and am still waiting for an information package she promised to “get right out” to me.

In the situation with the first association, would it not make sense to you that the director of membership make a second attempt to contact a prospective member that called for information about membership? I just got busy and didn’t call her back. Had she called me back a second time, I believe I would have joined instantly.

As for the second association, I was amazed that when I asked the membership person about the value I would receive from being a member, she asked if I was joking. I was not, and was less than impressed with her lack on knowledge as to the benefits of membership. I have been even more unimpressed with her lack of follow through. I really did want the prospective member package to help me decide which association to join.

The issue is twofold, first how association and society membership departments track their prospective members. Many folks just need a little nudge, and they will join. However, when ignored they will put membership on the back burner, frequently forever. The second issue is knowledge. If a staffer has no idea as to the value that the members derive from their membership, how in the world can they influence industry participants to join?

Today, the model for business and professional persons is that they are looking for a return on their investment (ROI) rather than participating in their industry simply because they should. Yes, times have changed.

The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process is the Answer:

Conduct the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process for determining the yearly sustainable real dollar value of membership at your next meeting? The American Society for Quality did so, three years in a row, at their annual meetings and discovered that their members receive over $50 in benefit and value for every one-dollar invested in membership. For anybody, that’s huge ROI! The National Air Duct Cleaners Association learned that their members benefited to the tune of $17 received for every dollar invested. For the National Frame Builders Association we revealed that their members received $10 in value for every dollar invested in their membership. It’s all about return on investment, that’s something no association or society executive, staffer or volunteer leader should ever forget.

The most significant reason for my belief in the need for urgency—urgency for every association and society, globally, to conduct the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process at their next meeting is recruitment. Why wait to plug up the leaking dike of member loss when you can do something about it now?

The Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process is, or should be, the cornerstone for your next member recruitment or member retention campaign. The single most important activity, resulting from the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process, is for your association or society to develop a marketing brochure for your members to handout. This brochure will easily demonstrate why it is a good business decision to join the association or society based on intelligent ROI.

The number one reason, in my experience, why marketing and recruitment collateral materials and campaigns are not successful is because real benefits are left out. Too frequently, when I review the marketing materials of associations that are intended for use in gaining new members, all I can identify is features, rather than the bottom line benefit to the prospective member. As I stated earlier, most people that join an association or society in today’s business environment are looking for ROI, and not the warm and cozy feeling of serving their industry. However, too many paid association staff and volunteer leadership are still stuck in the old warm and cozy paradigm. Read my lips, it is ROI!

Follow the below listed steps and I assure you that you will not be sorry you did.

  1. Conduct the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process at your next meeting. For more information on how to conduct this process, there are several articles at https://rigsbee.com/articles/association-growth/
  2. Association or society board of directors and paid staff review the specific value line items resulting from the process. Determine if more service and value can be offered to members under the most valued categories.
  3. Board then approves the changes and allows paid staff to implement. (Important note here, volunteer leaders need to “keep out of others’ rice bowls” and tend to their own, or nothing will ever get done.)
  4. Member recruitment brochure is to be developed based on the Rigsbee Member ROI Valuation Process results. These brochures should be held for the next membership meeting, like the annual convention.
  5. Keynote presentation on industry collaboration should be scheduled for the meeting where the brochures are distributed. The job of your keynoter is to get your members excited about what is possible for their business through accelerated collaborations resulting from increased association or society membership.
  6. Keynoter announces the new membership recruitment campaign and asks for a commitment from each member to personally give out 10 brochures to colleagues and industry participants.
  7. The question of prizes for membership recruitment is frequently posed by association leadership. I am neutral on the subject; however I would recommend that you consider this: Do you want your members recruiting for tangible prizes or for the benefits they will receive through increased industry collaboration?

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

The Reluctant Board of Directors (1037 words)

Membership organizations absolutely deliver ROI (return on investment) to their members. What are you afraid of, is the question I frequently find myself asking non-profit organization governing board members. I have observed, over the years, an alarming propensity of board members being remiss in their fiduciary responsibility to their organizations. Fiduciary encompasses more than simply financial good sense; also trust, loyalty, and prudence are crucial elements. I’ll get into this in a bit.

Do you really believe that your member value proposition is so low that you are afraid to measure it, is frequently my follow up query. I am truly amazed at the levels of fear board members exhibit in the area of articulating the value their organization delivers to its members. Many have such a deep-seated fear of revealing the ROI truth—that the number would be so low, thereby giving current membership justification to abandon ship. In my experience, reality is almost always the exact opposite. Organizations do deliver great ROI; they just have no clue as to how to measure it.

At the Core of Member Recruitment and Retention

I have been using my proprietary version of the active qualitative research method for over a decade to help associations and societies prove to their members and prospective members that membership is a good decision. I can categorically state that I have never worked with an organization that failed to deliver more real-dollar value than they charged for membership.

Unfortunately, out-dated and erroneous thinking obfuscates board members’ ability to engage in fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to their organizations. What I mean by this is simply that board members of non-profit organizations are just as responsible to the members as they are to the organization. This means that some board members will find it uncomfortable (but it is absolutely necessary) to stretch their awareness and understanding of available organizational growth and management tools—like proving ROI.

At the core of any membership organization is the criticality of proving that membership is a good personal or business decision—based on the organization’s stated mission. Most membership organizations, especially trade associations and professional societies deliver far more real-dollar value than they realize—but unfortunately rely on the fictitious MasterCard commercial phrase, believing that membership is: PRICELESS. FYI; membership is not priceless, unless of course it is free. Priceless sold to the Baby Boomers, but does not sell to the GenY stakeholders in your industry. The GenY crowd only buys ROI.

Let’s Talk Real Measurement

I applaud organizations in which staff members have gone through the soft research process of comparing member benefits value to what might be available in the marketplace or by other organizations. However there is a problem with this process. It is a simple problem. People believe that which they help to create. If staff did it alone, the research numbers are generally a no-sale, or fail to pass the all-important “smell test.” Staff-driven is an excellent first step but it does fall short of being an effective member recruitment tool.

When a reasonable sampling of members are facilitated through the active qualitative research method for determining what they believe to be the yearly sustainable real-dollar ROI of membership, the organization and its members can tout—our members have told us…

As an example, after three years and six qualitative research sessions, the American Society for Quality can confidently state that their members have told them that for every dollar invested in membership, members get over $50 back in real-dollar value. Can your organization make such a claim?

Selling Membership—Whose Job is it?

Membership is everybody’s business, not just the members, not just the staff, but member recruitment must be a partnership among both. Each group inherently has several advantages and disadvantages in their quest to recruit new members. As an example, members can access colleague prospects far easier and faster than can staff, conversely staff generally has more dedicated resources and tends to me more consistent in selling membership. However, when there is a cooperative effort, a partnership, among staff, board of directors, and members, the machine is literally unstoppable. Neither group can successfully go it alone.

Fiduciary Responsibility to Help the Organization Grow

I cannot tell you how many times an executive director has called me after attending one of my member ROI workshops and stated that they could not get their board to agree to doing, or budgeting for, the ROI research project they desired to launch. Was it that the executive director was awful at selling the value of determining the real-dollar ROI that the organization delivers? Or, might it have been that the board members were so petrified that if they measured the member ROI they wouldn’t make the grade?

Either way, the board members individually, have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization they govern to seek out and engage the available cost-effective tools to help and allow their organization to grow and prosper, thereby serving the organization’s stated mission. It saddens me, inadvertently as may be, how many board members shirk this responsibility of loyalty to their organization.

Release the Fear; It Doesn’t Become You

I believe that every membership organization should go through the process of determining the yearly sustainable real-dollar value it delivers to members. The next natural step might be to explore possibilities, strategies, and tactics for increasing the real-dollar value of membership. Do this because it helps in the long-term growth effort, but do not overlook the important immediate step of creating new tools to support the efforts of staff and members in their endeavors to evangelize and recruit new members.

My recommended tool is a simple, single-sheet, tri-fold brochure that lists the real-dollar value and various benefits (not features) of membership to the different membership stakeholder categories (vendors, allied, related professions, customers). The propensity of information gained through an active qualitative research method will be the core of this brochure. You want a tool that will dazzle your prospects with brilliance rather than to baffle them with bulk—the pounds of paper you mail out that they will never read. I believe in this tool at such a high-level that I will give you my brochure template at no charge, just email your request to ed@rigsbee.com.