Future of Membership
Associations play a vital role in connecting people, providing information, advancing members’ careers, and furthering their industries or professions. As technological, social, and economic shifts change how people work and engage with each other, associations have to find new ways to connect with future and potential members.
To understand how these shifts are affecting the ways associations and their members are thinking about membership, the ASAE Foundation solicited research proposals to provide answers to key questions related to the future of membership:
- What are the disruptive innovations in other forms of affiliation that are proving to be viable solutions for people seeking to identify with groups and advance their interests?
- How will engagement behaviors of individuals and organizations be affected in the future by the economic environment?
- What is the nature of community, and what unique roles are “associations of the future” uniquely positioned to serve?
From the proposals received, the foundation provided funding for four projects that investigated how associations are envisioning the future of membership, how social and economic trends are stimulating change, and what new models for member engagement have taught association leaders:
- The Future of Association Engagement, Association Laboratory
This study analyzed environmental scanning results and data collected from 33 discussions with association leaders examining the impact of macro forces and large-scale social change on organizational and individual membership decisions.
- Innovations in Membership Engagement: A Benchmarking Study, Avenue M Group
This project examined 14 organizations with successful and innovative membership models that encourage growth and support organizational mission. It identified five key factors that the organizations took into account to make successful membership strategy changes.
- New Realities Existing Within Converging Trends: The Future Is Now, The Haefer Group, Ltd. and Blanken Consulting/Results Technology, Inc.
This research used in-depth interviews, multiple case studies, and a literature review focusing on the value proposition of the future of membership organizations. The study identifies six “new realities” for associations to understand and address in order to engage their membership.
- How Can Professional Associations Provide Meaningful Value for Their Members: Creating Models of Affiliation and Engagement, Department of Public Administration, University of North Texas
Researchers conducted surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups with 12 doctoral students, exploring their choices to engage with associations now and how they would like to do so in the future.
Researchers involved in the four projects presented their findings at a two-day workshop. Association chief executives and membership professionals participated in facilitated discussions about the research and how the findings affect membership issues as they see them.
Exploring the Future of Membership distills the major findings from the reports and the key themes that emerged from the workshop’s roundtable discussions. This report zeroes in on leading concerns and trends affecting association membership today and highlights actions associations are taking to continue to effectively engage their members.
For more information about this research project, email [email protected].