Not sure what to get your members this holiday season?

How about what they’ve asked for?

Last week, as I was finalizing my holiday gift list, I came across an article in The New York Times with the headline, “The Perfect Gift? It’s the One They Asked For.” The article got me thinking about gift giving in general, and how it’s often overwrought and stressful, perhaps unnecessarily, and at the expense of both parties.

For example, how much time, energy, and angst could I save my significant other if I simply sent him the link to the perfect turquoise dutch oven, as opposed to dropping hints or asking him to schlepp around town or scour the Internet. In exchange, I would get exactly what I want and he would get back his time to spend on more worthy ventures, such as hanging the lights or perfecting his (disc) golf swing.

To that end, the article (referencing research from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology), expounds that people are simply happier getting items for which they’ve explicitly asked. Certainly not groundbreaking, but let’s apply the theory to associations and their members.

According to Abila’s own Member Engagement Study, there’s disparity between what organizations think their members want versus what they actually want. For example, Millennials, Generation Xers, and Matures all identify credentialing and training in the top three of “most important benefits” they want from their respective associations. Yet, organizations consistently cite conferences as a primary reason members join.

This inconsistency has the potential to be particularly damaging to an association, as education, training, and certifications not only attract members, but are also the reasons many members stay engaged. So, if you don’t do them, or don’t do them well, you could be negatively impacting retention, and therefore, your bottom line.

However, there’s no reason to fret. Conferences aren’t going anywhere and they shouldn’t. Providing in-person opportunities to network, attend sessions, and understand the marketplace will always have value. However, this holiday season, give your association members what they want online learning. Find out how to get started by downloading the “6-Step Guide to Launching Epic E-Learning Content.” And, check out this unbiased learning management system (LMS) shoppers’ guide.