Membership Portability is Essential to Growing your Association

Updated: Oct. 12, 2018  |  Categories: National Perspective  

Membership Portability

As associations aim to remain agile many types of memberships have emerged to meet ever-changing member needs.    While corporate membership still has a place, the structure should be reevaluated.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median number of years an employee has been with their current company is 4.6 years, quite a change from the 2 decades of tenure that the baby boomer generation maintained.   The days of the pension plan are long gone and the more portable 401 K has taken its place, so should this new membership structure, Membership Portability. 

There are numerous ways associations have their memberships structured whether the membership belongs to the company or to the employee.  The challenge arises when a member leaves the company, there are often questions as to where the membership resides. Adopting a good membership portability policy is essential to the growth of the association and it is very simple to implement.

When membership belongs to the company and a member leaves that company, it is likely that the new company the member is going to is not a corporate member. They may not even be aware of the   benefits that your association membership offers.  This often puts the member in a situation where they must take a break from attending meetings and other chapter activities.  Additionally, the company that has the membership might not even try to fill it and just leave it vacant.  Either way, the chapter loses out on perhaps an engaged member, attendance revenue, and more.

When membership belongs to the employee, it is certainly likely that they will continue to be active in the chapter regardless of where they end up working (if it is still in town).  But, then the risk of previous company having little interest or knowledge about having another one of their employees join is to be considered.

We offer a solution. Membership Portability.  This membership structures allows both the leaving employee and the primary company to keep their membership for the remainder of their membership period.  This way, the company can be informed they have a membership that can be filled without any additional expense and the transitional member can move to their new job and continue being active in the chapter.  All the while, they can have the time to educate their new employer on the benefits of membership while not asking them to pay for it so early on.  The new employer can then see that having an employee active in their chapter has benefits and the member can invite other co-workers and/or their boss to see events firsthand.  The local chapter benefits from more attendance and a growing membership as the vacancy membership is also filled more easily.

A strong chapter membership is a strong association membership.  Adopting a policy of membership portability is a win-win all around.  It is easy to implement because it benefits all parties.

At StarChapter, we believe in growing associations at the chapter level and look for ways to improve a chapter’s ability to deliver on all the membership benefits a professional or trade association promises.  

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