One of the many “pivots” associations made in 2020 was a re-evaluation of membership models. With some industries seeing a significant loss of jobs, decrease in corporate budgets for membership fees, and reduction payment of membership fees by employers for individuals, association leaders offered members flexibility – delaying or reducing fees in some cases.
The forced re-evaluation of an association’s membership model has led to a number of new models that mimic the membership models of the online retailers and streaming services that so many people relied upon throughout 2020. A McKinley Advisors’ report describes different membership models:
- Value-base membership allows members to bundle services and benefits or choose them a-la-carte, depending on where they find the most value. The flexibility is attractive to members but does create unpredictable revenue for the association.
- Ability-to-pay membership is the more traditional membership model – offering a single-cost, all-access plan that offers all services to all members. While it does provide a predictable revenue stream, it can also deter less engaged groups and individuals who have a difficult time justifying the cost.
- Value-based/Ability-to-pay Hybrid membership combines the flexibility of the value-based model along with the predictable revenue of the ability-to-pay model. This model includes a “base” membership that can be upgraded to a premium membership with a price determined by the member’s ability to pay.
Before changing your membership model, be sure that you understand what members want from a membership and the feasibility of meeting members’ desires along with the organization’s goals.
Also consider audiences that you may want to reach – how can a different membership model attract new members?
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