Forward-Thinking Membership Models for Associations

Tirrah Switzer

February 17, 2021

    Subscription models are all the rage these days. Almost everything is sold as a subscription today – from razors to exercise and clothing. Industries everywhere have begun to adopt subscription models. What about associations?

    Day-to-day consumer and technology experiences play an important role in your members expectations. Your members now expect the same convenience of a personalized, digital experience with your association that they’re seeing in other areas of their lives.  Associations are challenged to reconsider their traditional membership models and how they can be modified to align with new expectations of consumers.

    For-profit companies like Amazon, Dollar Shave Club, and Peloton have championed the subscription-based membership model and have grown their revenue substantially.

    This model translates well for a convenient online user experience as members can set it and forget it. It also has proven its sustainability in how adaptable it is to new and emerging technologies.

    Did you know? One-third of Amazon Prime members pay higher monthly fees for the convenience of monthly payments and the ability to cancel at any time.  

    Pros and cons of subscription memberships

    What are the benefits to subscription membership model?

    • It’s the “dream” membership
    • Generates recurring revenue
    • Empowers you to deliver benefits digitally
    • It’s a familiar model to today’s consumers
    • Appeals to younger generations

    What’s the downside to subscription membership?

    • May not capture full value of membership
    • Members’ habits and preferences are changing by the minute

    Before you make a change

    Gathering feedback from your members before changing membership models is a must. You can gather feedback through focus groups, surveys, or one-on-one conversations. According to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), here are five questions you should ask before rethinking your membership models:

    • Does the current membership model provide enough value? Why or why not?
    • Which member benefits do you find most or least useful?
    • If you could add one new thing to the member experience, what would it be and why?
    • Would a new membership model appeal to your right now? Why or why not?
    • Would your employer view a membership model change favorably? Why or why not?

    Free quick start guide: Personalize the member experience

    How to provide the experiences your members expect

    Not ready yet?

    If your association is not quite ready to start implementing a subscription membership model. Consider offering a service as a subscription. Now is the time to be innovative. Offering a service or product as a subscription enables you to dip your toe into new ideas while generating non-dues revenue.

    Your association must explore new paths of engagement and connection to stay relevant with your members. It has never been more important or timely for your association to transform the way you think about membership models now and in the future.

    Learn more about how Nimble AMS can help you meet member expectations in this subscription economy.

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