The switch from in-person to virtual events and a scramble to support members with financial challenges led to a re-vamping of event fees, membership fees, and even resource access that was previously limited to only members. These changes reflected associations’ efforts to both remain fiscally viable and to meet member needs, but one author cautions association leaders that it is time to take a deep breath and re-evaluate those quick decisions.
Saying that fee structure changes made in 2020 were good for associations and members at the time, Scott Oser also suggests that now the crisis is resolving, the potential impact of those decisions should be examined. He says, “Everything an association does with their pricing and how they communicate with members and customers will impact the levels of success in the short-term and in the long-term. Are associations taking the time to develop scenarios that look past the current crisis so that the likelihood of future success is part of current decision-making process? If they aren’t, they really need to be.”
As associations move forward with in-person, hybrid, or virtual events, take a close look at pricing. When evaluating membership or event fees, remember that the increased recognition of association membership value in 2020 means that reasonable pricing – even if higher than in 2020 – probably won’t affect membership if value remains high. In a recent survey, 74% of members whose employers pay for all or part of their membership dues say they would still renew even if their employers stopped.
The most important strategy is to ensure value as well as fiscal sustainability for the association.