Recently, I was clearing out a closet and I decided it was time to take some things to Goodwill.  As I sorted things into “keep” and “donate,” I realized I had a quite a sizable a pile of old purses and totes that I never use any more.

After assessing the pile, I told my husband, “I think I might have a black bag problem.”

Tiny purses, mid-sized purses, sports totes, laptop bags – every single one was black.  There had to be more than 20 in the pile. Many looked remarkably similar.

How could I possibly be inspired to purchase essentially the same thing over and over and over?

The truth is that the black bags work for what I need:

  1. My standard “uniform” as a consultant involves black slacks and a dressy shirt, possibly a jacket.
  2. If I carry a black laptop bag and a black purse, they don’t clash.
  3. Most of my dressy shoes are black, so a black bag works with them.
  4. Carrying a bag that goes with literally everything means that I don’t have to waste time swapping purses back and forth.

When you think about asking someone to renew membership in your association, trade group or nonprofit, you’re essentially asking them to buy the same (or very similar) black bag over and over and over every year.

Have you given thought to whether it’s a black bag that they actually need?  How well does what you offer actually fit where they are in business, in life, in their aspirations, in their daily routines, etc.?

It’s questions like this that lead you to better understand how well your member experience is aligning with what members actually want.

If you’re lucky, your audience is like me and just wants a simple black bag with pockets in exactly the right place.  But most organizations find that what their audience wants to buy over and over and over is different than what’s currently being offered.

I’d love to hear if you have things like me that you purchase repeatedly.  Are there things that you offer as part of your organization’s membership that are scooped up by the audience without fail?

If you’d like to catch the Crowdcast that I did recently on this topic, you can go here.

Have a great rest of your week! 

How I Can Support You:

When you're ready to do a deeper dive into the member experience that you're delivering so that your organization can grow more quickly and easily, I can help in 3 ways:

1) Strategy Only – where we map out your best approach to solve challenges and you implement on your own; or

2) Strategy + Team Support – where we map out your best approach to solve challenges and my team helps you implement;

3) Strategy + Group Support – where we map out your best approach to solve challenges and you work alongside other organizations who are working on the same thing.

The best way to get started is by scheduling a quick call.


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.