What matters most to members. Is membership still a relevant option for your organisation? Is it a thing of the past? Has the majority of society moved to a preference for supporting causes instead of signing up? Do people actually still want to be committed to a group?
Membership is an essential conundrum that many organisations need to constantly keep in focus. As a membership organisation your members can be part of your key purpose for being formed therefore your strategy must reflect their wellbeing and reasons for being involved, and include a robust feedback and consultation programme.
However for some organisations, the purpose of the organisation can grow bigger and move past the desires of the membership and develop into a broader purpose serving a larger community wide need or issue. This then creates the requirement for members to deliver value externally rather than receive it for themselves.
Finding the balance
If you are a member organisation it can be very difficult finding the balance between retaining the commitment of individual members and giving them value, with the future development of the organisation as a whole. This is particularly so when there are still founding members involved or the ‘traditions of the club’ are held on to regardless of how the environment for that organisation has changed or will change the future state and possibly viability of the organisation.
If members are key to your organisational purpose, be they the deliverers or the receivers of your service, their engagement is crucial. There have been many studies published about member engagement from both the member and the organisations perspective. However there is one interesting piece of work that compares how and why members engage with organisations and how professional organisations think members engage with them. Though based on professional bodies in 2016, this american study highlights some key areas for reflection for all member involving organisations worldwide, discovering where attitudes, practices and communication preferences align, difference emerge and gaps exist.
What matters most to members
Asking the key questions of ‘What matters most to members when they join?’, and ‘What makes them feel most engaged?’, are questions all member involving organisations should be asking and acting on regularly.
Tania is the CEO of a Christian medical charity, and business owner with a distinctive bias for community development. She has governance and volunteer experience in variety of organisations from Chamber of Commerce, School BoT, church vestry and Volunteer Centres.