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Adding members, building bridges.


Every year, ASAE selects a few of the most innovative and effective membership relations and marketing campaigns for special recognition. The 1992 Awards of Excellence in Membership cover a wide variety of associations and demonstrate a broad range of creative thinking. Campaigns from the National Association of Realtors and the Healthcare Financial Management Association show how serving a previously undiscovered need can bring great benefits. The American Dental Association, the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and the General Agents and Managers Association demonstrate how adding a playful element can attract notice--and members. The Southern California Training Council and the National Association of Home Builders added new membership benefits to serve their members. All of these award-winning organizations bring innovation, excellence, and a fundamental sense of service to their membership relations.



When the National Association of Realtors (NAR) lost its appraiser affiliate in January of 1990, it was left with an unserved membership constituency. To compound the confusion, at that time the appraisal profession was becoming regulated.

"We're dedicated to servicing all real estate professionals, so we decided to create a section within NAR to identify appraisers and service their needs," says Christine M. Brenkus, manager of the appraisal section. "It was critical that we be here for them to sort through the confusion so they could become licensed and certified and stay in business."

NAR launched a section recruitment program in March 1991 to inform potential members of their opportunity to join the association's new appraisal section. Estimates suggested there are 50,000 licensed and certified real estate appraisers in the country, and NAR set out to capture a portion of that market.

The response exceeded any expectations. "Within three months we had about 3,000 members, and that was our goal for the end of the year," Brenkus says. By the program's end in December of 1991, the section had more than 5,000 members.

High renewal rates and continual addition of new members have kept the section membership above 5,000. "Telemarketing worked really well for us for renewal," Brenkus says. "Our members thought this was a service to them because they didn't have to fill out their invoices."



"We were looking for a way to save our member companies money on training programs," says Karen Trisko, director of member services for the Southern California Training Council. SCTC's major service to its 300 members, who are mostly small corporations, is providing access to a network of training vendors from whom members may purchase services at a reduced cost.

To encourage member usage and to provide an effective discount without cutting the price, SCTC developed the Council Reserve Account program. The program resembles airlines' frequent flyer programs.

"You earn credits in your account every time you purchase services or materials and every time you participate in association activities," explains Trisko. "The next time |members~ purchase something, they can do it with reserve account credit. The net result is that companies can save 15 percent and even more on their membership."

The Council Reserve Account program has paid off both for members and SCTC. In the year since the program began, the renewal rate for members is 10 percent higher. Revenue is up, too: By September 1992, SCTC's training revenue was up 125 percent from 1991.

The only down side of the program is that it's very service intensive. "Administratively it's a lot of work; it's like having a separate account for each member. We send each member a monthly statement, and we only award CRC credit if they pay on time, so there are administrative steps to assure that the bill has been paid on time," Trisko says.


Although 80 percent of dental students are student members of the American Dental Association, participation drops off sharply on graduation.

To better reach the dental students, ADA developed the Transition Program, a plan to reach graduating dental students on a personal, peer level.

Graduating students and their spouses were invited to a party to play "Dental Jeopardy," eat pizza, and learn more about the benefits of joining ADA. The game, complete with kazoos, bells, and nontechnical questions, such as "Steve Martin played a sadistic singing dentist in this musical," offered some lighthearted fun at a tense time in young dentists' careers.

Students received a specially designed booklet, Benefits for the New Practitioner, and, most importantly, listened to a young dentist and an ADA staff member describe the benefits of membership. "We found what was key was the combination of staff and volunteers," says Judith R. Schaefer, director of the commission on the young professional for ADA. "I think this program was so successful because we found what the major concern of the students is. They want answers."

Results exceeded expectations; the average attendance at each of the four pilot sessions was 76 percent of the graduating class. Surveys showed that 95 percent of participants planned to join organized dentistry upon graduation.

The "Dental Jeopardy" game and presentation is being expanded to 26 schools with the goal of reaching all 56 U.S. dental schools. "When you consider what we spend on recruiting members, this was a very cost-efficient program, Schaefer says. "However, it's labor intensive."



In the past, The General Agents and Managers Association had not given individual-member recruitment high priority at the central level; most was left to GAMA's 130 local and state affiliates.

In creating a new membership recruitment campaign, GAMA wanted to accomplish three objectives: Recruit members and build a stronger relationship between the national and chapter organizations; redesign the membership brochure to include an application; and create an attractive and complete "care package" to send local membership chairs.

"Since our members are predominantly male, they're very competitive, so we thought a football theme would work very well," says Stacey Riska, GAMA's director of marketing and membership. The program lasted four months, with each month counting as a "quarter" and each new member a "touchdown." At the end the team with the highest score won the "GAMAbowl."

The first year, the campaign brought in 597 new members; this past year that figure nearly doubled. Riska explains the program's success as the result of competition: "When you see the scoreboard, you want to do better. It wasn't that we were pushing them to go out and get new members, it was something we made them want to do."



For the past 10 years, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has provided a leadership training conference for officers of its affiliate associations. The conference provides formal experiential training in personal leadership development and association management. However, the 600-700 leaders the conference attracts each year represent only a fraction of the 8,000-10,000 incoming presidents, board members, council and committee chairs, executive officers, and other emerging leaders at the local and state affiliate level.

NAHB recognized that it would be virtually impossible to reach this audience with the conference alone. As a result, it developed prepackaged leadership training workshops so that affiliates could conduct their own sessions locally. The modules would provide an added benefit of helping develop a closer relationship with the affiliates.

With the development of these products, NAHB has been able to reach more than 3,000 incoming and emerging leaders through three of the five products made available so far.

Reports from product users are positive. What's more, the program has been extremely cost-effective, since it uses primarily existing material and can be published in-house on Word Perfect software.

Best of all, early reports indicate that NAHB is reaching more leaders and is influencing change that will provide positive results in the future. The addition of prepackaged workshop products to the on-site leadership training adds another way NAHB serves its members and develops new leaders.


With a diffuse chapter structure, largely staffed by volunteers, the Healthcare Financial Management Association needed a way to promote leadership and spread a consistent vision among its members. "The Leadership Training Conference started in the mid-1960s," explains Thom D. Freyer, director of chapter relations and quality improvement for HFMA. But it changed significantly five years ago.

Now, the Leadership Training Conference introduces regional and national leaders to new chapter leaders, informs new chapter leaders about new and existing services and programs, creates an effective forum for the exchange of ideas, and sets a tone by introducing an association-wide programming theme for the upcoming year.

Two regional conferences instead of one national one reduce chapters' travel expenses and maintain a comfortable meeting size. There is no registration fee, and costs of the conference are financed primarily by membership dues.

The Leadership Training Conference also builds relationships with the chapters. "Our relationship with our members is very strong and they recognize what we do as a valid profession," Freyer says. "The chapters are basically small associations that don't have staff."

In 1992, representatives from 69 of the 70 chapters attended the training conference, and attendance by chapter leaders has increased steadily across the past five years. A sample survey of attendees indicated an overall satisfaction rate of 94 percent.



"The key to the program's success was getting our affiliates' input," says Kathleen E. Jackson, CAE, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents' (PIA) director of membership marketing. "People support what they helped create. Before we started, we surveyed the states to see what kind of help they wanted in the membership area." Samples of promotional and membership materials were sent to state executives for their approval, and received a positive response. So when PIA introduced a member-get-a-member campaign with the theme "Race to Excellence," all but three of the local and regional affiliates participated.

Promotion of the campaign began during PIA's board and committee meetings in Pittsburgh and included speeches, caps, buttons, and glasses, and a race car. Program participants were encouraged to have their photo taken with the car and to reprint the pictures in their state publication. The campaign met its goal of 500 new active members and generated a 1.7 percent improvement in the growth rate.

Stephanie Faul is a senior editor of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT. For more information about the Awards of Excellence in Membership, call the ASAE Membership Section, (202) 626-2848.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Faul, Stephanie
Publication:Association Management
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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