I don’t know if there’s ever been a membership in existence that hasn’t struggled, at some point, with at least one piece of the membership-building trifecta.  Want to know what those pieces are?

1. members who pay

2. members who play

3. members who stay

Master all three pieces of the trifecta and membership growth becomes almost magical. Allow me to explain.

Members Who Pay

One of the first challenges that leaders of associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits face is finding members who value what the organization does enough to PAY for membership.There are likely plenty of people who say they value the organization and who are happy to remain on the mailing list to stay connected to what’s happening in the industry or in the cause that the organization is working on.Yet, getting people to shift over to being paying members can sometimes perplex.Of course, while this is typically one of the first challenges faced, it is certainly not limited to new organizations. In actuality, learning to create offers that convert prospects to members is one of the most valuable investments an organization can make.


Members Who Play

The second piece of the trifecta is about mastering the art of member engagement – getting members to step off the sidelines and PLAY a role in the work that you do. Whether this means that they get involved in conversations, attend events, enthusiastically refer their friends, join committees or take advantage of learning opportunities that are offered, member participation is critical to growth. Engagement brings a sense of energy and importance to the work.  It makes members feel like they are part of something exciting and inspires staff, board and leadership to do their best work.

Members Who Stay

Of course, it doesn’t matter how many members pay or play, if you can’t get them to STAY.  Addressing retention issues is essential, if you ever want your organization to gain traction.This is why my consulting philosophy is that you can’t market your way out of a growth problem. Fixing a growth problem requires that you understand exactly where the problem is and apply the right solution.

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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