It occurred to me the other day that many professional and trade associations lose members as there is a natural attrition of members but associations continue to successfully endure and grow.
My dad’s Rotary chapter that he loved so much and gave tirelessly has become nearly is extinct. The chapter’s members aged and few new members could be recruited. The old guard stuck to their ways and were not adapting to the boomers and x’ers generations. The same fundraisers were used year after year with fewer and fewer dollars raised. They shook their heads and waited. While other Rotary chapters have thrived; this particular chapter soon became a dinosaur.
How do associations adapt and continue to keep their membership strong? While there are many things that come into play; there are several things I feel are of value…and I’m very proud that AAHAM is stronger than ever.
Using social media is so important. Boomers and X’ers turn to the web first for information. They are on Facebook and LinkedIn. Websites need to offer useful content and be frequently updated.
Getting members involved builds interest and support. A useful tip is encouraging bringing a friend. Always encourage your members to invite a guest to a chapter meeting and make these new people feel welcomed. Guests may need to come to a meeting more than once to feel comfortable before joining. By getting their name, it’s important to keep them in the loop on upcoming events and emailing announcements and enewsletters.
Adapting to changing times is critical. While I still enjoy hard copies of magazines and newsletters (I admit it, I even have a rolodex), I accept there are many more people who are using their I-pads, I-phones and notebooks for information. Enewsletters are very useful with informative content and making this transition to “e”copies is so important. AAHAM moved to an electronic version of the Journal several years ago. Electronic announcements, Evites, etc. should be sent more than once. Many people make the mistake of doing only one e-blast and assume everyone opened it, but these can be emailed more than once with different subjects.
One of the benefits attending AAHAM’s national events is the opportunity to network with other chapters. Finding out what other chapters are doing is very useful and provide great take away tips. Join the monthly membership calls, we encourage attendance.
One of the most successful reasons AAHAM continues to endure and is of value to our chapters is our certification program. Our members know the prestige of our certification program helps them so much with their career and professional advancement. Just like a college degree, it goes with you, whenever you change jobs. Members should be applauded when they tackle their certification because this really is such an accomplishment.
Keeping event themes interesting is so important in attracting members and retaining members. An event that was successful last year, may not necessary be a strong draw this year. Both boomers and X’ers like to give back and enjoy opportunities that offer help. Supporting causes make these generations feel useful. Several of our chapters had very successful fundraisers for the New Jersey chapter with members who suffered from Hurricane Sandy.
I was talking to a food bank the other day and they have a great program capitalizing on grocery stores’ BOGO incentives. Buy one, donate the other one. They explained that the upcoming summer months are critical to many food banks when children are home and don’t have the benefit of receiving meals at school. Food banks are great causes to support in your community by your chapter and this is just an example of a cause that both boomers and X’ers may embrace.
So are you doing the same old, same old or are you adapting?