5 Elements for Successfully Implementing a Benefits-Driven Membership Structure

Categories: Association Leadership, Association Management, Association Management Software, Association Operations, Chamber Management Software, Chambers of Commerce, Non-Dues Revenue


In WebLink’s 20+ years of providing association management software, we’ve noticed one trend continue to grow stronger and stronger: more organizations are starting to use a benefits-driven membership dues structure.

It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle these days. The “Information Age” has made anything and everything available at our fingertips – associations must be able to clearly differentiate themselves from what other resources offer. Members are now looking for choice and flexibility in their membership, and a benefits-driven dues structure will achieve just that. If your organization is thinking about making the switch, consider our steps for a smooth transition!

1. List

Start by making a list of all free/included benefits of membership – every single one, even the ones that seem standard or like they may be hard to quantify (step 2). Then, add the extra benefits that are typically offered to higher level members or as an a la carte option. And THEN, add even more! Use this as an opportunity to brainstorm the additional benefit options that your association could offer.

2. Quantify

Assigning a monetary value to your benefits will help you determine where they’ll make most sense within your packages. Next to each benefit, write down its “retail value”. This can be most easily achieved in one of two ways, the first of which being to simply estimate how much it would cost to purchase that benefit elsewhere.

Some benefits, however, aren’t something that can be purchased outright. For those benefits, assign a reasonable dollar amount to a “sale” that the member gains from the benefit, and multiply it by the quantity of sales the member can expect to gain. For example:

  • If your association does 50,000 referrals per year per 10,000 members, that means each member receives on average 5 referrals per year.
  • If each member closes the sale on half of their 5 referrals, that’s 2.5 sales per member annually as a result of their membership.
  • If we assign $40 as the average member’s sale amount, then the business referrals we generate amount to 2.5 x $40, or $100 in retail value each year.

Be sure to make a note of each benefits’ market availability as well. This will help as you begin assigning benefits to packages.

3. Package

Now you’ll identify which benefits should be made available to which level(s). Group benefits based on areas of interest, such as networking and advertising opportunities. Items costing little time and resources for association staff should be available to everyone – then, consider each remaining benefit’s dollar value and availability when assigning them to a higher level package.

4. Communicate

Change is hard. Members might be confused, or even frustrated, over the structure of their dues and benefits changing – but done correctly, a communication about the change will help them quickly see the obvious upside! Draft a communication that can be published in multiple places (email, newsletter, etc.) so that members are sure to catch the information. Start by introducing the new structure with a brief summary of the change, and an explanation for why the change was made. First and foremost, this communication should be about the members, and explaining the “why” will show transparency, and help them understand that your association has their best interest at heart. Give examples of how the change will benefit all members across all levels. Discuss next steps and what they can expect in this transitional time. And of course, don’t forget to direct members to where they can see the new packages!

For detailed communication examples, download our FREE eBook – Time is of the Essence: Make an Impact on Membership Growth This Year with Tiered Dues.

5. Manage

Managing this type of structure is the part that gets tricky, and is often what deters associations from embarking on the benefits-driven journey. That’s where we come in. WebLink has created a brand new feature for its all-in-one association management software, specifically designed to help associations more easily manage their members’ benefits. This feature eliminates common benefits management issues, such as tracking and renewing what each member has, applying and changing those benefits across your membership (both in bulk and individually), and allowing members to use their benefits in place of payment.

We will be hosting a free webinar on Thursday, July 27 at 2pm EST to demonstrate just how WebLink is revolutionizing benefits management. Register now to join us!

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