Anyone who has flown anywhere in recent years knows how the process works. You make your way to your seat, get settled in, then have to watch as a voice comes on over the loudspeaker that tells you all the safety features of your plane and what to do in the event of an emergency. During this time, your flight attendant points to aircraft doors, demonstrates the seat belt clip, and shows how to put on an oxygen mask.

It’s a process that most people have seen so many times that they simply tune out. They keep reading their book, have their headphones on, or are zoning out the window. Very few are actually paying attention.

That’s why I was surprised and delighted to experience something completely different on a recent flight to OKC.  I boarded the plane, got settled in, then THIS began to play:

I looked around the plane and everyone was transfixed, watching the display.

My immediate thought was, “What an amazing example of effective partnership.” This was a win for United (people actually watched the safety video), a win for the Star Wars franchise (people who might not have even considered going to the movie were introduced to it in an interesting way), and a win for passengers (as something that is typically quite boring was transformed into an entertaining experience).

In the many years that I’ve been doing this work, I’ve noticed that almost every organization wants the revenue that comes from business partnerships – affiliate members, vendor members, sponsors, etc.

Yet when it comes to what those companies actually get from the relationship, the benefits tend to be something like a larger logo, or their company name visible in a directory, etc.  Rarely has strategic thought been given to what the partner actually brings to the table and how a win-win-win scenario can be constructed that benefits the organization, the company, AND the members.

Now, I understand an organization being protective of members. You obviously don’t want to gather a group and then have them incessantly spammed.

This is a problem that needs to be fixed, if your revenue growth strategy includes things like sponsorship and affiliate or vendor level memberships.

I like to use the approach of having a “project” for a partner. You’ll find the best ideas at the intersection of what that partner does and the organization’s mission.

It could be something like:

-A guidebook on a specific topic

-Guest posts for a magazine, blog, newsletter or social media

-A holiday gift (not just at Christmas, but how about a thank you gift for Thanksgiving, a Springing-forward gift in April, an anniversary gift recognizing renewal)

-A lecture series where continuing education credits are given

Like most aspects of effective Member Experience Design, the right approach is unlikely to happen by accident.  It requires some thinking about what members want and how partners can support that.

Again, I love the United Airlines safety video because it illustrates this perfectly.

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

For 2020, I'll be offering four support programs to help your membership organization grow. Be sure to check them out our new options below!

Have a great rest of your week!

How I Can Support You:

I’ll be offering 4 programs in 2020:

1) The Boost – Want to identify your organization's fastest path to growth? This private consulting experience with membership expert Joy Duling provides fresh perspective, best practice guidance, and a Boost Plan that you'll feel excited about implementing.

2) MemberMetrix – For yourself, a member of your team, or your organization's membership committee, this program focuses on how to make the right things happen at exactly the right time for members so that you can consistently grow your organization's membership. 

3) TeamShare – You may have heard the old saying that two heads are better than one. Around here, we believe that having a whole team of expertise is the best of all. With TeamShare, we completely eliminate the need for you to recruit, hire, train and manage multiple employees and contractors.

4) EasyApricot – It's never been easier to serve your members and run your operations. Our team can help you leverage the #1 ranked membership management software, Wild Apricot. Whether you want it 100% done-for-you or just need someone who can walk you through the tricky spots, we'll make your new Wild Apricot site beautiful and your transition hassle-free.

The best way to find out if a program is right for you 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.