Sector and AuSAE News

  • 12 Feb 2021 5:59 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Looking for simple, inexpensive ways to keep members engaged in a virtual world? Here’s one solution.

    How does it work? Recognising that its members were lonelier and more isolated than ever without the typical pathways to interact with colleagues at in-person meetings—an ongoing issue—the Council on Undergraduate Research established “CUR Conversations,” a low-cost way for members to connect on a video calling platform.

    CUR sends out an email inviting members of its community to get together and share ideas for an hour on the video calls. Any member can propose a topic for the call, which is limited to a specific number of people.

    Why is it effective? Members can join the casual forums to discuss hot topics, issues they are struggling with, success stories, solutions, and more. The calls often bring together members who don’t already know each other, which helps them widen their circle and build bonds with new people in a virtual world, despite the lack of face-to-face events.

    What’s the benefit? “We don’t have to develop any content, and it’s not a heavy lift for us, but members are getting a lot of value out of being able to connect with their colleagues,” says Lindsay Currie, CAE, CUR’s executive officer.

    LISA BOYLAN - Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now.

  • 08 Feb 2021 9:40 AM | Deleted user

    AuSAE Business Partner, Enterprise Care has released its 22nd annual Not for Profit Remuneration data as a fully interactive digital portal. The first in Australia, this interactive NFP Remuneration Portal enables you to review and compare the data whichever way suits you, in real time.  The portal includes:

    • Benchmarking & Trend Data - Given our long history in market, we're able to provide up to 10 years of trend data for each role level.
    • Dynamic & Interactive Reporting - All control is in your hands. Make unlimited selections to review all relevant parameters to you.
    • Accessible Any Time, Anywhere - Available on desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

    If you are an AuSAE financial Member, you can access the report at a discount. Head to Member Resources > Benchmarking Reports > Not-for-Profit Remuneration Portal.

  • 04 Feb 2021 3:18 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    A glossary of common terms related to membership that will help you keep up in conversations with colleagues, volunteers, and members.

    Do you speak membership? As an association professional, you’d better—and you probably are comfortable with a lot of the common terms that are bandied about in the association community every day. But membership has a cross-discipline jargon of its own that can get extremely specific, and it can catch newbies and even old pros off guard.

    Consider this list of membership terms your go-to resource the next time you find yourself struggling to distinguish your retention rate from your churn rate or keep your member segments straight. Like our “Tech Talk” glossary, we hope it comes in handy as you build your association language fluency.


    Chapter organization: A break-off organization, tied to either a specific region or an organizational niche, that is affiliated with an organization but brings together a narrower body of members.

    Churn rate: The opposite of member retention, this term refers to the percentage of members who have lapsed over a given period.

    Code of ethics: A set of conduct standards that association members are expected to follow, based on the association’s core values. Many associations have been challenged to keep their ethics codes up to date as social media has made negative and unprofessional behavior more public.

    Dues: Revenue raised directly from membership. Although dues are an important part of many associations’ bottom lines, a key goal of many organizations in recent years is to diversify their revenue streams beyond membership (see “nondues revenue”). Many associations have favored dues on an annual cycle in the past, but monthly or installment dues are becoming more popular.

    Exit survey: A survey given to members as they leave the organization. This type of survey is important for improving future offerings.

    Net promoter score: A measure of a member’s loyalty to or satisfaction with an association. A term that originated in the business world, net promoter score measures a member’s willingness to recommend your organization, and its products and services, to others.

    Nondues revenue: Revenue raised from areas other than membership dues. Associations often generate this revenue through events, learning opportunities, and services targeted at members beyond what a membership covers.

    Passive member: A “member in name only” who is disengaged from the association. Membership teams look for ways to encourage participation by these members to demonstrate membership value and increase the likelihood of retaining them.

    Retention rate: The percentage of members who have renewed their membership over a given period.

    Segmentation: The process of dividing members into groups based on common characteristics so organizations can market to each group effectively and appropriately.


    Baby boomer: A term describing people born between the post-World War II years of 1946 and 1964. For many associations, these members make up their oldest demographic, with many in senior roles and some nearing or at retirement age. A concern associations face regarding baby boomers is “brain drain”—or the loss of institutional knowledge as older members leave.

    Generation X: A term describing people who were born between 1965 and 1980, generally representing a middle-age tier of members in an organization. MultiBriefs describes this group, the smallest of recent generations, as hardworking, individualistic, and valuing efficiency in their association relationships.

    Generation Z: A term describing people born between 1997 and 2012. This demographic tier is only just now breaking into associations as its oldest members graduate college and enter the workforce. Despite their reputation for heavy social media use, it’s widely believed that Gen Z-ers join associations for face-to-face interactions.

    Millennial: Also sometimes referred to as Generation Y, this term describes people born between 1981 and 1996, and it represents people in the early to middle parts of their careers. This generation is considered the first tech-native generation, and associations have faced many challenges reaching this audience over the past decade.


    Content marketing: The process of creating and strategically structuring content (an information resource of some kind) to target a specific audience. This tactic is often used in member contexts to attract and engage new or existing members.

    Crowdsourcing: A member engagement tactic that describes a resource, such as a piece of content, that has been collected from a group of people. This approach works particularly well for highlighting member success stories and raising member voices.

    Engagement: The process of interacting with a member in order to produce ongoing value for that member. This is a perennial challenge for associations, but it’s a key to attracting and retaining members.

    Influencer: A prominent, high-profile voice in a community or field (also see “thought leadership”). The rise of social media has increased the use of influencers for marketing and messaging purposes. Within an organization, individual members can become influencers on a smaller scale; those members are often called “micro-influencers.”

    Onboarding: The process of introducing new members to an organization and getting them up to speed. Onboarding is important to ensure members feel equipped to gain maximum value from an organization.

    Thought leadership: The concept of introducing and promoting ideas of high relevance to a specific member community. These ideas can be advanced by an organization, through content marketing, or by a leading voice within the community.


    Association management system (AMS): A technology tool usually comprising a mix of management elements, such as a membership database, a website builder, communications system (email), finance and payment system, event platform, and more. In recent years, the AMS has become a dominant technology supporting association operations.

    Customer relationship management (CRM) software: A technology for managing all of a company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. Designed to improve relationships to grow a business.

    Drip campaign: An email campaign that helps ensure engagement with members over a long period by sending a series of messages to their inboxes.

    Learning management system (LMS): A software application providing the framework that handles all aspects of an organization’s learning programs. It’s a place to house, deliver, and track an association’s training content.

    Private community: A forum or similar digital discussion hub where association members can engage with fellow members on issues relevant to their field or organization. Unlike more traditional social networks, a private community tends to be tight-knit. It’s a key example of a member benefit in the digital age.


    Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun.


    Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. 

  • 21 Jan 2021 4:46 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Associations responded remarkably well to an onslaught of challenges in 2020. A membership expert offers suggestions for navigating the start of a new year with your members in mind.

    I don’t know about you, but in times of uncertainty I like to talk to experts, so I reached out to Scott Oser, president of Scott Oser Associates, to find out his thoughts about membership for the upcoming year. Nothing like the hot seat.

    “The number one thing associations need to do is understand the state of their membership and their industry,” Oser said.

    As gratifying as it was to wave goodbye to 2020, changing the date on a calendar unfortunately does not automatically erase all the difficulties of the past year. People are still being affected by the pandemic, racial injustice, and political and financial instability, to name a few of the ongoing challenges we face.

    Understanding the state of the industry and where members are can mean many different things, Oser said. Some members might be strapped for money, while others might need their association now more than ever for career resources. Or you might need to communicate with members differently because they are bombarded with information.

    Tweaking and customizing messages is just as important now as it was at the beginning of the pandemic, when every association was putting COVID-19 resources at the forefront, he said. Staying on top of what your industry wants and needs will help you fine-tune messaging and offerings to better communicate with and serve members.

    “We can’t go back to doing business as usual because we are definitely not in business as usual,” he said.


    An ongoing communication stream that shows members your value—either through social media, newsletters, or member-to-member communication—is necessary, Oser said. And these ongoing communications need to do two things: Address member needs and show how your benefits and services are meeting them.

    The messaging should be bite-size, he said, not a list of 30 member benefits. Concise, easily digestible messaging is essential because, in many cases, people are busier than ever before because they’re home, juggling kids, pets, spouses, and everything else on top of trying to do their work.

    “You need to focus on one or two things that will prove to be valuable in the moment,” he said.


    It’s a challenging time but renewals still need to go out, using slightly different tactics, Oser said. Some industries were particularly hard hit by the pandemic, so you might need to reduce dues or extend membership terms. But, overall, he recommends tweaking your messaging to show that your offerings can help members with what they’re going through.

    “There are industries that are thriving and there are industries that are suffering, but people are still renewing because they find value in their membership,” he said.

    Having a hardship plan in place is also a good idea, so every staff member at the association knows what they can offer if a member comes to them and says they can’t afford dues. But you don’t have aggressively promote it, Oser said. You can add it to the fine print of every invoice you send out stating that if a member is having financial trouble because of the pandemic or other issues, they can contact the association for other options.

    “You can’t leave money on the table because not everybody is being impacted by COVID and not everybody needs a reduction,” he said. “Associations are a business.”

    Going forward, Oser predicts that associations will continue to be strapped for resources, so they’ll need to make sure that everything they do is effective and efficient.

    “There’s not going to be a lot of ‘nice to do’ anymore,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of ‘need to do.’

    LISA BOYLAN - Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. 

  • 21 Jan 2021 4:36 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    As associations adapt to challenges ushered in by the global pandemic, new research by Personify provides a guidepost for strategic decision-making.

    Looking at 2020 in the rearview mirror, it’s easy to see that associations faced unprecedented changes, disruptions and threats to their operating models. (Understatement of the century, anyone?) But gazing into a crystal ball at 2021 and beyond, it’s difficult to determine what shifts are permanent and what newly adopted practices and behaviors are here to stay.

    To better understand what may lie ahead, Personify conducted a survey of nearly 1000 association and nonprofit members and staff to learn how they are adapting to these shifts. In a series that begins with this article, we’ll highlight key areas of concern with both the short- and long-term in mind.

    Here are some of the high-level takeaways from Personify’s research:

    Your digital networks are more crucial now than ever before. 

    More than half of all survey respondents shared how important it is for their associations to provide both digital networking and a digital community for its members. While associations have historically leaned on routine in-person meet-ups to court potential members, a successful association has to explore new avenues, such as networking in the digital space.

    While productive and meaningful connections can take more time to navigate and nurture in a virtual world, people are adapting and finding themselves more engaged than before. According to Personify’s research, 48 percent of members said they were more engaged in 2020 than in 2019.

    “That feeling of being seen and understood gets worse when you’re working remotely, so companies will compensate for that; they’ll start ramping up their recognition and rewards programs,” David Johnson, the principal analyst for employee experience at Forrester Research, told Fast Company. “Companies are going to invest quite a bit in up-skilling managers and investing in technology that will help them better understand employee engagement when working remotely.”

    Similarly, investing in tools that complement virtual planning and events can benefit people not only in the interim but in coming years when many might opt into remote gatherings as a choice, rather than out of necessity. And with the adoption and application of these new services and skills, planners can empathetically and productively launch hybrid in-person/virtual member engagement.

    Virtual engagement is here to stay. 

    Even when it’s safe to return to in-person events, only a minority of members surveyed want to engage in them—merely 15 percent of members said they would want a mostly or entirely in-person event (under the assumption that it is safe) in the second half of this year, with 50 percent of members preferring a mostly or entirely virtual event, and 33 percent preferring a combination of virtual and in-person for 2021. This could be attributed to the fact that virtual engagement is seeing a more widespread and welcome adoption.

    Once we can safely return to in-person gatherings, the digital shift won’t disappear. It’s going to remain a constant within networking communities. Rather than focus on ways to phase digital settings out, a forward-thinking association will discern how to maintain its online presence while still conducting in-person happenings in the months and years to come.

    “Anyone who is planning to host an in-person event in 2021 should also be prepared to have a virtual back-up plan, or plan a hybrid event, as there will be many unknowns throughout the year and no guarantee that events will be safe by 2021,” Gianna Gaudini, Director, Global Head of Events at Softbank Investment Advisors (Vision Fund), wrote for Thrive Global.

    “Smart planners will communicate early and often with attendees to get an idea of attendee sentiment around live vs. virtual gatherings, and what will make attendees feel 1) safe and 2) part of a communal experience.”

    Career skills and certifications still matter. 

    This was cited as the top reason among members to continue to engage with their association (46 percent very important for members), followed closely by being able to network with others (45 percent) and belong to an organization that advocates for their industry (44 percent).

    LinkedIn reported that in the first week of April 2020, people watched 1.7 million hours of content designed to teach a new skill on LinkedIn Learning, compared to 560,000 hours watched during the first week of January 2020, before the pandemic hit. That’s triple the amount of time spent watching skills-centered content once people were isolating. It’s evident that people are gravitating toward learning new skills and achieving certifications. Associations should tap into this by finding out what content members are interested in and providing relevant programming.

    “Most of us have new skills we aspire to learn, but chipping away when we’re stuck at home requires a superhuman act of willpower,” Taylor Jacobson, founder and CEO of Focusmate, told Fast Company. “We’re used to relying on in-person structures—go to a dance studio, take a yoga class, meet your guitar teacher. These structures provide the accountability to actually show up, invest time, and make progress.”

    Association membership remains valuable. 

    Many members said that belonging to an association has either become more important (44 percent) or is as important (48 percent) as it was pre-pandemic. Associations Now reported that a study published in April by strategic research firm Association Laboratory, Inc. found that 57 percent of association leaders reported more investments in online education, 52 percent reported exploring virtual conferences and 62 percent reported plans to digitize their content.

    Dean West, FASAE, president and founder of Association Laboratory, told Association Now that the concept of digital membership is hardly new, but interest has accelerated because of the pandemic. He suggests analyzing membership, cost and returns on investment for programs, dropping the ones that don’t yield meaningful results.

    “You can’t look at a crisis only as a threat,” West said. “You have to consider it as an opportunity to create energy toward strategic change, because we know the crisis will eventually subside.”
    In short, it’s not about sitting on the sidelines and waiting for this to pass, which could lead to associations running the risk of losing their relevance in their members’ professional and personal lives.

    Stay tuned for the remainder of our series, where we highlight how smart associations are preparing for the journey ahead. And while we can’t predict the future, we hope this series will be a good starting point for making lasting improvements.

    This article is the first in an 8-part series focused on studying the shifting association landscape and how smart organizations are planning for both short- and long-term challenges–and solving them. Backed by original research conducted by Personify and brought to life through the stories of association leaders who are meeting these challenges in real-time, this series is intended to serve as a guidepost for associations who are reacting to fundamental market shifts and proactively building a better future for their organizations. Sign up for Personify’s webinar on Jan 27 that will walkthrough this research in detail.

  • 14 Jan 2021 9:08 AM | Deleted user

    AuSAE Premium Alliance Partner Advanced Solutions International (ASI), a leading global provider of software and services for associations and non-profits, today announced that its Chairman & CEO Bob Alves and President & CTO Don Robertson have written an important new update to their 2015 book, The Association Exec’s Guide to Improving Organisational Performance.  Learn more here.  

    The 4th edition of the book provides guidance for associations that need to objectively evaluate systems on the market today and understand the key differences between Cloud-based Engagement Management System (EMS) platforms that are specifically designed to meet the needs of associations versus generic CRM-based software.   

    Alves and Robertson share case studies and valuable insights learned from working with nearly 4,000 clients worldwide.  The book offers best-practice advice Association Executives can use right now to:  

    • Harness the Continuous Performance Improvement Machine
    • Access and optimise a single source of truth
    • Mitigate risk and avoid project failure

    The Association Exec’s Guide to Improving Organisational Performance 

    The book is available for a limited time from the company’s website as a free download for association executives.

  • 18 Dec 2020 4:39 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    The truth is, each member of your association is clearly worth more than the dues they pay. They provide man hours, word-of-mouth marketing, and emotional and creative insight that keeps your association moving forward.

    But there is a benefit to learning how much each member contributes to the financial goals of your association over the lifetime of their membership.

    Once you have put a dollar amount on the monetary value of your members, you will be set to give them better discounts, customized service, and valuable offers to keep them engaged. Tasio created a simple spreadsheet to figure this calculation out yourself which you can download here.

    NOTE: The above workbook is not to be used in the place of professional accounting or financial advice. The Lifetime Member Value worksheet is designed to give you a rough estimate of your member’s worth over the lifetime of their membership. For a more detailed breakdown, speak to your accountant or financial advisor.


    There are several things you need to know before you can do this simple calculation. The most important being that you will working with a historical data set—a set of year-long data where the outcomes (lost or retained) of the members is known.

    Step 1: Know the Numbers

    Work with your team to gather this information, which may include IT data, financial data, and employment data. You will need to know:

    Total number of last years’ members with member loss data. You will need to create a historical data set of everyone who was retained or lost from a year-long period before now. The closer to today, the better this data will be.

    Total dues and non-dues revenue for historical data set. This will be split into two sections on the workbook, and will need to be included for everyone on the historical data set.

    Total cost to service a member over historical data period. This includes salary and cost of membership departments, publication, and marketing and promotional advertising costs. It also includes any monetary or financial benefits members receive. It may also include other elements, depending on your unique association offerings.

    Average lifetime of membership. You find this by reviewing your historical data set for members who were lost, or “churned.” For each member that was churned over the period of your historical data set, calculate how many years they were members. Then create an average for the entire group of churned members.

    Step 2: Find the Average Cost Per Member

    For your historical data set, you need to take the total cost to service a member and divide it by the total number of members (including those who left, or were “churned”). This is the total amount of funds that you spent per each member last year.

    Step 3: Calculate Expected Lifetime Revenue

    After you have created your average lifetime for membership, you will multiply this by the average dues and non-dues of revenue that each member generates each year. In the Association Retention Workbook, the calculation is done for you.

    Step 4: Calculate Lifetime Cost to Service Member

    We will also do a similar calculation for the cost to service a member of their lifetime with your association. This is done by multiplying the average lifetime of a member by the yearly service cost per member.

    Step 5: Calculate Lifetime Revenue of Membership

    By subtracting the cost of servicing a member from the total revenue over the lifetime of a member, you can see whether you are spending too much on servicing or if you have room to offer discounts and other financial incentives to increase your retention.

    The revenue minus your costs is your break even point—this is the highest amount of discount you can give before you are making zero dollars towards your association’s goals.


    What About the Value of Social Impact for Your Association? 

    Despite the calculation above, you might realize that there are some reasons why you would be willing to go over the break even point on the behalf of your members. For many associations, there are intangible benefits from offering some programs, resources or discounts.

    These are a valuable part of identifying the value of your members, and can be considered as you are using these calculations to make decisions about where to trim or increase your spending.

    Your Members are Valuable. Retention is Key.

    Every member represents a huge investment of time, effort, money, and resources on behalf of your organization. And while all members are valuable, retained members bring in the most revenue for the least cost.

  • 16 Dec 2020 4:32 PM | Deleted user

    If your career hasn’t progressed as you’d hoped in 2020, focus on turning the page in the year ahead. Here’s some advice from a career counselor with an association insider’s point of view.

    Between event cancellations, declining membership, and job losses, there has been no shortage of setbacks for association professionals in 2020. Combine that with specific professional challenges everyone encounters from time to time, such as failing a certification exam or missing out on a promotion, and a lot of people are facing career obstacles at the moment.

    Sharon Givens, president-elect of the National Career Development Association and a licensed professional counselor and career coach, says a career setback can feel much like losing a loved one. And plenty of people are grieving right now.

    “During the pandemic, a recurring theme is that people are dealing with loss—loss of job, loss of daily activity, loss of time with family members,” says Givens, who is also CEO of the career consulting firm Training Visions.

    Although it’s common to struggle with negative feelings when your career takes a hit, you can find your way back to a success story. Givens has a few tips for starting fresh in the new year:

    If you feel comfortable sharing publicly, do so. Social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter are full of honest sharing about career struggles. Some users who have lost their jobs have modified their profiles to show that they’re available for work. That kind of candor can reflect well on you. “You’re showing a level of vulnerability and just really being transparent—‘I’m available, I’m willing’—and it could show some employers that you’re somewhat of a risk taker,” Givens says.

    Don’t be afraid to find another direction. With a job loss in particular, some may feel the desire to switch gears. Givens says the pandemic could be a good time for a career pivot if you have another area of interest. She advises clients that “we’re all going to be forced to change. So, let’s see what you have now that you can contribute. What else would you need to make yourself more viable? Then, let’s move in that direction.” She says a job loss can be an opportunity to refresh your skill set by pursuing additional education or certification. “For example, if you’re lacking in maybe technical skill, then you might need to look at how you go back and enhance those technical skills,” she says.

    Find motivation in the things that went right. After losing a promotion or failing a certification exam, many people focus on the failure rather than the successes along the way. “When we experience a loss, we forget everything else that has gone well,” Givens says. “So how do you reach back and look at all the things that you’ve accomplished?” She points to the work of the late organizational consultant William Bridges, who focused on transition management and emphasized the importance of looking for new opportunities. People who suffer a setback often “don’t have the motivation because they’re focusing solely on ‘I’ve lost, I’ve lost, I’ve lost,’” she says. “But anytime you have a loss, there’s an opportunity for gain, which is what most people don’t focus on.”

    Don’t take the setback too personally. Ultimately, a lot of the setbacks of the past year aren’t really anyone’s fault—and that’s important to remember. “I ask my clients: How personal are you going to take this loss? Do you think this loss is specifically about you? Or is it more about what’s happening in this current time?” she says. “I think that gives people a different perspective.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Ernie Smith.

  • 16 Dec 2020 4:29 PM | Deleted user

    As a tumultuous year comes to a close, reckoning with burnout is understandable. A productivity expert offers some guidance on ways to put a few things in order and make more time for yourself.

    That persistent feeling of burnout? It’s real and has been exacerbated by the pandemic more than at any time in the past several years. A study by FlexJobs and Mental Health America found that 75 percent of workers have experienced burnout recently, and 40 percent of those polled said it was a direct result of the pandemic.

    Carson Tate, CEO of Working Simply, had her own personal bout with burnout a couple of years ago and understands its impact, especially on women. “Even though it’s 2020, women bear a disproportionate load of household and child responsibilities,” Tate said.

    The pandemic has added to that burden. Women are “overstretched and overwhelmed,” she said, and many are leaving their careers. With the loss of support structures like schools and day care, “it’s almost impossible to do it all without cracking,” she said.

    More than one in four women are contemplating downsizing their careers or leaving the workplace entirely, according to a 2020 Women in Workplace study by McKinsey and LeanIn.

    Tate recommends four key strategies for overcoming end-of-year burnout after a year that has stretched almost everyone’s patience, mental capacity, and focus:

    Conduct a meeting audit. Go through your calendar and if a meeting doesn’t have an agenda, ask yourself: Why am I attending this meeting? Respond to the meeting organizer and ask: What is the meeting objective, and how can I support you in achieving it? This message puts them on notice that if there isn’t a good reason for you to be there, you don’t need to be there.

    Do you play a role in the meeting? If there is an agenda for the meeting, but you’re not on it to make a specific decision or as an influencer or a subject matter expert, and you won’t be responsible for any execution of goals, that’s a great opportunity to just say no. Time is a commodity, and making sure you are really thoughtful about investing your time is essential.

    Take intentional breaks. Put a five-minute break—with a reminder—on your calendar to reduce your cognitive load. Walk up and down a flight of stairs, flip through a favorite magazine, listen to a song. Disengage, disconnect, and let your brain rest.

    Winterize your task list. What tasks should stop? Ask: Does this task generate revenue? Is it aligned to a strategic goal or priority? Is it a core requirement of my job? If it’s not, stop doing it. Now assess what you need to start. Is there a new project or initiative that you haven’t broken out into action items? Capture the action items and put them in a task management tool. What tasks need to be continued? If it aligns with revenue generation, a strategic goal, or is a core responsibility of your job, keep doing it.

    Research has shown that working longer hours does not equate to increased productivity. A Stanford University study found that productivity declines sharply when a person works more than 50 hours per week. And those who work up to 70 hours a week are only getting the same amount of work done as those who put in 55 hours.

    As 2020 comes to a close, it’s time to make time a priority and arrange tasks so they are manageable, achievable, and necessary to enter the new year refreshed and ready to engage.

    “You’re a human being,” Tate said, “not a human doing.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Lisa Boylan.

  • 16 Dec 2020 4:27 PM | Deleted user

    Want to know why members left? Ask them. Effective exit surveys can give you insight into what your association can do to better retain current and future members. Here are a few best practices.

    What’s worse than a member leaving your association? Not knowing why. With an exit survey, organizations can turn their lapsed members into valuable sources of information on what they can do better.

    But not all organizations take advantage of this opportunity. Jayne Tegge, member engagement manager for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), says she has received only one exit survey from companies she has worked for. “And I’ve worked at a lot of places,” Tegge says.

    For smaller organizations with limited staff, it’s probably just not a priority, she says. But if you make it one, you can gain insights on the state of your organization. Use these tips to build an exit survey that will tell you what you need to know.


    Members who are on their way out probably won’t want to sit through a hundred questions. Promote participation by asking about a dozen questions that cover the basics. Questions should include:

    • Why are you discontinuing your membership?
    • What did you like best about your member experience? What did you like least?
    • How can our organization improve the membership experience?
    • What could we have done to keep you as a member?
    • Do you plan to rejoin in the future?

    The key is to understand exactly why they’re leaving and what they think you can do better.


    You won’t have a clear road map for improvement without truthful responses. Make sure that questions are worded simply and without bias and that they don’t suggest an answer. For example, don’t ask, “Do you think our low-cost membership dues are fair?” Instead ask, “What do you think about our membership dues?”

    If you create multiple-choice questions, make sure the list of answers covers the entire spectrum of possible reactions, from very positive to very negative, instead of putting a positive spin on each potential response. Make sure to add an “other” option as well to offer more flexibility.


    Another way to ensure honest responses is to keep participants anonymous; SIOP follows this strategy, Tegge says. Don’t ask for any identifying information, and make sure you’re not requesting details that are too specific, such as the exact date the respondent joined.

    On the technical side, services such as SurveyMonkey let you decide whether to track and store identifiable respondent information.


    Use some open-ended questions—including a final question such as “Is there anything more you would like to add?”—to allow respondents to expand on their thoughts.

    “That’s why we have open-ended questions, so they can tell us exactly what they want to tell us,” Tegge says. “That is where the content we want is located, because that is an individual’s personal experience.”


    Wait a few months after members lapse to send your survey so they have a chance to spend time away from your organization and reflect on their experiences. Plus, you don’t want to contact lapsed members too frequently, or they might tune you out.

    At SIOP, members receive an exit survey 12 months after their membership ends. Three weeks after that, the organization sends a reminder to complete it, and lapsed SIOP members have a month to submit their answers. This generous window of time increases the number of responses—and the more you get, the more data you have to work with.

    “Some think, ‘I’m going to do that, but I don’t have time today.’ So they might do it in five days. Then we have all the stragglers who totally forget about the survey,” Tegge says. “So when we send the reminder at the three-week mark, we get a whole other blast of people.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Michael Hickey.

The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE)

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