I’ve always been curious about the strategy of bundling membership with event registration.

Over the years, I’ve run into several associations that include their membership fee along with registration for an annual conference.

While this strategy could legitimately be for the convenience of the member, that has never felt like the real reason to me. Instead, it seems like a strategy that organizations do when they are struggling to get people to join/renew.

They can’t get people to buy the membership separately, so they stick it together with something that they do want to buy – the event.

It’s like giving somebody a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but also sticking a little broccoli inside.

Few people actually want the broccoli, but maybe if you put it in a sandwich that they do want, it will be OK. In fact, maybe they’ll like the sandwich so much that they won’t mind the broccoli.

If your organization is using this bundled strategy, I’d challenge you to really think about WHY you do it.

If your members aren’t interested in the broccoli separately, why is that? A far better approach is to figure out what would be absolutely delicious to your members, then serve them that.

This is a problem I love to help clients solve.

I have a brand-new client who has been serving peanut butter, jelly and broccoli sandwiches for the past couple of years. We met this week to review the new member engagement plan that I created for them, based on planning conversations. I’m really excited to see results from the yummy new things they’ll be putting on the menu in the coming year.

I’d love to hear about your experiences in this area. Drop a reply in the comments below and let me know.


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.



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