Deliver Membership Value Through Unique Association Benefits
An association membership can be an invaluable investment for members, and they may be involved in more than one. As an association leader, you want your organization to stand out from comparable alternatives, such as a more local or larger-scale association, or one for a specialized component of your industry. A member benefits program can be the unique offering that separates your association from the crowd. Unique association benefits are important.
If you’ve never considered a member benefits program for your association, you might think: “We don’t have the budget;” or, “Our staff is too small to handle the administration;” or, “It’s not our mandate, we focus on regulation/certification/etc.,” and so on. These are certainly valid points; however, they’re not entirely accurate in the context of what your member benefits program could be.
Consider establishing the program as a voluntary benefits offering.
This way, there is no added cost or administration to your organization and its staff because all transactions begin and end between the member and the benefits provider. All participation is voluntary, so members can simply access the benefits that interest them, knowing they are available because of their connection to your association. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Companies love exposure to membership groups and are interested in creating exclusive offers. All you need to do is determine the type of offer that your members would value and then reach out to providers in those industries. If you have a well-established member benefits program through associate member or partner promotions (or something similar) and want simply to broaden the range of benefits offered, consider new provider partnerships.
- Think outside your members’ interests and incorporate benefits that would appeal to their family members. The “sandwich generation” of members are balancing the needs of their elderly parents and adult children, so a wider range of benefits can help support them. Consider programs that might relieve some financial strain felt by members. Supplementary insurance products fill any perceived gaps in current health coverage, and preventative products and services provide additional peace of mind through identification of potential health risk areas. Significant savings on purchases made in everyday life – clothing, vehicle rentals, hotel rooms, etc. – help members retain some disposable income for savings, which can drastically reduce financial stress.
- Engage a benefits consultant who specializes in voluntary programs. They’ve already implemented agreements with various providers and they keep current with new and competitive offers. A consultant can also assist with member communications about the unique association benefits and be an asset when negotiating program details. There is typically no cost involved with this relationship, either. Commission has likely been built into each agreement with the benefits providers.
A member benefits program doesn’t have to be an all-encompassing project that takes over your association’s primary objectives. It can simply be a unique association benefit to increase the value of membership and members’ appreciation of your association.