“You get out of your membership what you put in.”

We sling around those holy words of membership all the time. But imagine one of your prospects or new members hearing that. What if they already juggle too many responsibilities at home and work? They came to your association looking for career or business support, not another burden.

What we really mean when we recite that membership maxim is, “Read our emails, please. Make some time for our events, please. We’re trying to help you.”

Yet, is that the message members hear? Or do they think they have to serve on some boring committee if they want to “maximize their membership.” The voice in their head says, “Maybe membership isn’t for me, besides, I can find information and professional development elsewhere.”

It’s time to market membership express options – quick and easy ways to get value from membership.

Information filter

I know you’re tired of hearing about content curation, but there’s a reason so many people talk and write about it. It’s a no brainer for associations!

The members who are serious about professional development already browse print and digital resources for the good stuff. Make it easier for them.

If you have members who don’t read for professional growth, then it’s time you show them a way to develop that good habit. Some associations publish curated content on their blogs, like ASAE’s Quick Clicks, a selection of recent association management posts. If you want to learn more, ASAE published a curated post about content curation.

Many associations provide a curated selection of articles and posts in a daily or weekly e-newsletter. My former association’s Daily News Summary was a big hit with members. I received emails raving about the news summary from members whose names I didn’t even know.

In ASAE’s post about content curation, Joe Rominiecki stressed the importance of providing “the best and most relevant content, not your best and most relevant content.” He said, “That’s the shift that associations have to make, from being the source of expertise to being the conveyer of expertise, regardless of the source.”

One-minute reads

My old association sent the Membership Minute to state and local membership staff and membership committee chairs. This well-targeted email was sent the same time each week (Friday afternoon) using a recognizable template resembling our other association newsletters yet with its own unique graphics.

The copy was written by a staffer with a marketing background, something most local and state staff did not have. It was a short, interesting and informative email about membership marketing — information they needed to do their jobs effectively. What type of information could you send to one of your membership segments to help them do their jobs more effectively?

Coffee break webinars

Why must all webinars be 60 minutes? Surely I’m not the only one who registers with good intent but then doesn’t take the time to sit through the entire webinar, or doesn’t even bother to try.

How about offering 15- or 20-minute webinars? That’s enough time to discuss one issue or offer a how-to. Offer a sponsored series for a deeper dive. Archive them in case they miss one.

One-hour events

Many associations have mastered the one-hour event at breakfast, lunch or happy hour. But too often educational/networking events require taking off half a day plus travel. Not everyone has that kind of time.

Make sure you have quickie events built into your schedule: discussion roundtables in the morning or late afternoon, luncheons with informative and interesting speakers, or happy hours with a 10-minute legislative update or sharing of success stories (arranged in advance). Don’t make it all business, allow time for relationship-building too. Encourage interactive experiences with table talk time.


Committee service scares many members off, but microvolunteering doesn’t. Make it easy and irresistible for your members to get involved by creating a monthly list of ways to volunteer in 20 to 60 minutes. Market that list aggressively using every channel and platform you have.

Promise and deliver a membership experience that fits your member’s lifestyle, whether it’s scenic drive or express lane.

Deirdre Reid, CAE is a freelance writer who will continue to write about microvolunteering until someone tells me to shut up, and maybe not even then.