Associate members can be critical to your association’s success in many ways. Despite that fact that they are not your core audience, associate members can provide important levels of dues, volunteer effort and sponsorship or other non-dues revenue.
Given their importance, it’s fair to ask whether your association should be providing programming to attract and retain associate members. But there are three reasons you shouldn’t:
1) Your association’s associate members tend to join for access and exposure to your core membership. While they may appreciate programming geared toward associate members, those same programs will likely have few, if any, regular members in attendance, making the event counterproductive to their main goal.
2) Your association’s associate members can easily find more appropriate programming in their respective industry associations. Not only is your association’s programming likely to pale in comparison, but you are needlessly competing with other associations.
3) Any programming efforts directed toward your association’s associate members necessarily removes resources from your core member audience. This could potentially hurt your association’s appeal to that core audience. Ironically, this would in turn reduce the appeal of your association to your associate members.
Your association’s associate members are important – of that there is no doubt. But you probably don’t need to offer them programming just to keep them as active members of your association. Instead, focus on maintaining a healthy core association membership, and your associate members will be more than happy to continue to patronize your association.
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