End of Membership As We Know It – or not

When I first started reading this book by Sarah Sladek I have to say I was bored. You see it felt like I reading what I’ve been preaching. So I started and stopped and restarted the book several times. Well I just finished it and I’m glad I read it in the end.  

Why? Associations need a book like this. Associations are full of baby boomers, scared of change, comfortable with status quo and righteous. Very many are stuck on stage 1 of fear: freeze. This book can help get past that. It speaks to baby boomers. It explains the changes. It provides examples that satisfy our need to see before we believe. It cites research that is gives us assurance the facts are true.

And for those of us who don’t need all that, it gives us a source to cite and share in support of our ideas. So I do recommend it … and here are few specific recommendations:

  • To those who haven’t started exploring real change in their association (go directly to page 7 “Association Must-Haves”)
  • To those who are still mystified about the impact of generations on our associations (we baby boomers will cede majority to GenY in the workforce in 3 years – go to page 49 “Focus on the Future”)
  • To those who are still focusing on networking and conference as value proposition (go to page 36)
  • To those who are still focused on pricing to demonstrate value (read pages 38, 43 and 54)
  • To those who are trying to get the thick-headed in the association to consider alternatives (highlight the examples on pg 45, 47 and 96-110 and forward)

To those who don’t want to read the book, learn a little more by reading Tony Rossell’s post or Lori Halley’s post or the lively debate between Celena NuQuay and KiKi L’Italien [sorry you have to be an ASAE member to access!] And here are a few thoughts I highlighted.

“Community is defined as a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share governance and have common culture and history.” I highlighted because it can be used as a better definition of chapter.

“Belonging means you have a secure relationship and ownership in something.” It’s not joining!

“Can you really picture twenty-something’s at your programs … Using your services?” Now there’s a soul-searching question for associations.

Successful member benefits formula is equally practical and emotional.

Individuals join because you will help solve a problem.

The only weakness I see in the book is that the solutions offered, Emerging Member Models on page 95, are not courageous enough. And I don’t see them as emerging models in 2011, the year on the book. They have been in use for a number of years and don’t really push the boundaries. In truth though, they aren’t mainstream and for that reason may give readers new ideas and perhaps be a catalyst for the profession to really be courageous. What do you think?