How to Create a Transformational Membership

Nov 15, 2017

During one of last week’s Live Chat sessions for The Movement Summit, I asked people if their membership was informational or transformational. 

The responses were mixed, but one person in particular commented that “transformational memberships have more staying power”.

I couldn’t agree more.

In fact, if your membership is purely informational, it’s pretty hard to compete in today’s world. We are bombarded by information every day, more than we can possibly consume, or even notice. As a result, it’s easy for members to be passive and just let information rush past them.

When a membership is transformational, in contrast, it is harder to be passive. To change, by definition, requires some level of active engagement.

There are 3 steps to ‘transforming’ any membership from informational to transformational. (Yes, that was an obnoxiously bad pun… I couldn't resist.)

Step 1:  Identify what members want MORE of, or LESS of.  

What your members want is going to be completely contingent on the type of membership you’re running… but the clearer you can be about this, the easier it’s going to be to design your member benefits around that.  By framing it as ‘more’ or ‘less’, you make it more likely that the change is something that can be measured.

A few examples…

– More revenue
– Less stress
– More job advancement opportunities
– Less chaos in their day
– More speaking opportunities
– Less headaches writing their book

Step 2:  Capture a member’s baseline.

As a membership-builder, you likely pour your heart and soul into delivering member benefits that make a difference. Surely people will notice that you provided great value, right? 

Sadly, this isn’t always the case.  Even if you deliver a top-notch experience, people can tend to forget what a difference you’ve made specifically for them.

So, it’s important right up-front, to document where people are as they begin their relationship with you.  This could be built into their initial member profile, offered as part of an orientation, or integrated into a Welcome Kit.

Step 3:  Create natural check-in points. 

After you help member’s capture their baseline on the front-end, you’ll want to offer look-back opportunities to illustrate how far they’ve come.

One example that has always stuck with me came from someone who came through one of my Launch programs. He used a puzzle that had an image printed on it that related to the goal that his members were working on. He would send members one piece of the puzzle with each achievement.  By the end of the year, the goal was to have the puzzle complete.  This was an amazing way to help his members see transformation happening!

Making the shift from informational to transformational isn’t hard, but it does take a little creativity sometimes. 

I’d love to hear what YOU do to make your members’ experience transformational. Leave a comment 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.


Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

Clients hire me to help them design and deliver exceptional member experiences. If you lead an association, trade group, or membership-based nonprofit, you can find FREE resources to help you run and grow your membership organization by visiting here:

I look forward to connecting with you there.