From the Front Lines

Grow Your Membership Without Raising Dues

By • August 30, 2016

price and value balance sign

Adapted from a session given at the 2016 ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo by:

Magdalena Mook, CEO/Executive Director, ICF – International Coach Federation
Terrance Barkan, Chief Strategist & Business Architect, GLOBALSTRAT

Barkan was a consultant for International Coach Federation (ICF), and he and ICF Executive Director Magadelana Mook walked the audience through a case study of how ICF finally got its risk-averse board to go along with a membership dues increase. According to Barkan, by understanding what’s really most valuable to members, you can calculate and quantify a true membership value. For example, they found that if they could help members increase the number of billable fees annually by just one hour a year, that’s would be worth at least $250.

“Associations notoriously underprice their products and services and are way too hesitant to raise their membership dues,” he said. As an example, many associations are competing with for-profit publishers and even their own vendors who put on conferences. Both groups tend to charge far more than the association, even though it’s the same speakers and same topics. “As associations, we all want to say we’re the best, but you don’t get to be the best for the cheapest.”

Both Barkan and Mook said they found a higher membership price connoted more prestige and, therefore, had more perceived value.

Mook said if you’re planning a membership dues increase, make sure you give members plenty of advance warning and make sure your board – including the initial naysayers – not only support the increase, but champion it publicly and serve as ambassadors.