Building flexibility into your membership recruitment strategy

Struggling with a chapter that’s doing well in some areas (i.e., events, advocacy, networking) but not so much in membership recruitment? They are trying their best, but those membership numbers just won’t budge. So, why aren’t people joining? It’s a great question and Belinda Moore of Strategic Membership Solutions offers some valid insights on what could be holding your chapter back.

One theme that stood out to us is that the key to success is flexibility so we thought we’d add some of our thoughts on those areas where you can be more flexible.


Don’t assume if you build it, they will come. Moore says it best in her piece, “…reality is more like a jigsaw puzzle where not every piece fits.” Take the time to figure out why people aren’t joining. Ask what is holding them back. You might be surprised by some of the answers.


People need to understand not only what your organization is about, but also how membership can be beneficial to them. Think of it as switching from features to benefits.

When crafting your messaging, be sure you have clear and concise answers to why they should join, but also remember those answers won’t always be the same for everyone.

Finally, sometimes it’s about helping them see how to access what you have. For instance, our state organization developed and promoted a robust webinar series so that members across the state could tap into the network. The organization is also looking at a more targeted outreach to see what they can do for those jurisdictions that are still on the sidelines.


You’re up against a lot of information overload so if you’re still offering the same info that people can get anywhere, you won’t go far. Find that niche … that space that isn’t or can’t be filled elsewhere. It’s a tough assignment but will be worth it.

For example, several years ago, Mariner teamed up with Billhighway to launch – a little thing you may have heard of – the Association Component Exchange (CEX), an annual day-long conference designed exclusively for CRPs. Plus, the Mariner/Billhighway team has been offering monthly free webinars that address all things components. It’s been a fun ride that continues today. Talk about finding that niche!

p.s. CEX 2024 is coming to Chicago on May 7 and to DC on May 10 (includes a virtual option). Learn more and register here!


Keep your finger on the pulse of industry trends and issues. Members aren’t just looking for education; they’re looking for resources, support, and connections. Being a hub of timely, pertinent information and networking opportunities is key to retaining and attracting members.


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again … when recruiting volunteers, start with the person, not the position (here’s a series of posts on how you can make this happen).  Volunteers come with passion, but their time is valuable, and nothing ruins a volunteer experience than being overburdened and underappreciated.

So, take a more flexible approach across these areas, and watch your chapter attract new energy and faces!