Apr 21 2008

Strategies for Bolstering International Membership

MCI is pleased to welcome Carolyn Lugbill of Going Global Matters as a contributing writer to this blog. A well-known and respected international association executive, Carolyn will contribute her thoughts on what’s important to include in global strategy and thinking.

Is growing your international membership a goal for your organization? For many, the answer is yes. Many times, however, it can be a struggle to apply the same strategies that have worked successfully in the U.S. and Canada America to other countries.

In the past few years, I have worked with various organizations that have instituted various strategies to increase their international membership. Some of these examples include adopting different kinds of membership categories. Others consist of offering specific products or programs or establishing a local presence. Here are some strategies that have bolstered international membership.

Team or Joint Membership. This membership is designed for individuals who reside in emerging countries and cannot afford regular membership dues. A group of 10 individuals join for one rate and a team leader is designated who receives all the membership benefits. He or she takes on the responsibility to circulate the journal and other association materials to his or her colleagues.

Electronic Membership. All membership benefits are delivered electronically, and dues can be up to 50 percent less or greater than the cost of regular membership. This type of membership is usually available to members outside the United States and Canada, and the dues rate can be based on a set of economic indicators such as the World Bank’s.

Sponsored Membership. This kind of membership, either member to member or by a corporate member, can be extended to individuals, especially in developing economies, who are unable to pay the full cost of membership. Members pay an additional fee to their membership dues to sponsor an individual or even designate a person they would like to sponsor.

Discounted Membership. This category of membership is designed to encourage joining from individuals who want to belong to an organization but can’t always afford it, especially in developing countries. Again, dues can be up to half or less than the cost of regular membership.

Reciprocal Membership. Some organizations offer reciprocal membership with their overseas counterpart. This type of membership allows members of one society to join the other at a discount. Reciprocal membership can be beneficial if the practice of the profession is similar in other countries, there is valuable information that can be gained, and there are networking opportunities available for bringing members of two organizations together.

Using Specific Products and Programs as a Gateway. Overseas meetings, international book fairs, journal distribution, cosponsoring of educational programs with counterpart societies, translation of products, and training and/or certification programs can all be entrĂ©es for growing your international membership. Many times it’s a specific product or program that allows the organization to showcase one of their valuable membership benefits to their international prospects.

Establishing a Local Presence. Organizations that want to provide more localized service to help retain their members have established a local presence. A local presence could involve hiring international representatives for a particular country or region who receive a fee plus commission to recruit members and sell the association’s products and services. Another type of local presence can be establishing an office either independently or through an association management company (AMC) within a particular region. An office can be equipped to determine membership potential through market research, coordinate recruiting campaigns in targeted countries, and develop unique member benefits.

These strategies are examples of what organizations are doing to capture more international members. Have any of these strategies worked for your association? Share your successes, and we can all learn and grow from each other’s membership experiences.

Submitted by Carolyn Lugbill, CAE, President, Going Global Matters; Email ; www.goingglobalmatters.com

About the author

Peter Turner

As MCI's Senior Advisor, Global Development Strategy, I help associations build and execute global growth strategies. Over the past 30 years I have served three associations (ASAE, MPI and IEEE Computer Society) as a leader of business, product and partnership development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>