Abila Member Engagement Study Finds Disconnects Between Professional Member Organizations and the Members They Serve

Study takes a holistic look at member engagement from both member and organization perspectives, including reasons members join, what keeps them engaged, and their communication preferences.

June 15, 2016 – AUSTIN, TexasAbila, the leading provider of software and services to associations,nonprofits, and government entities, announced today findings from its Member Engagement Study: Aligning Organization Strategy with What Matters Most to Members. The study explores member engagement and where alignments and disconnects exist between professional member organizations and the members they serve. The study also looks at engagement preferences across four generations: Matures (71 or older), Boomers (52-70), Generation Xers (36-51), and Millennials (19-35).

“In many ways, members and the professional organizations to which they belong are on the same page,” said Amanda Myers, director of member strategy for Abila and study co-author. “However, we’re seeing some areas of misalignment between members and professional organizations, especially surrounding what motivates members to join and engage with an organization versus what organization professionals think motivates their members.”

Key Findings Include:

  • Jobs matter: By and large, new members join organizations – first and foremost – for job opportunities. Socializing/networking and professional development also rank close to the top. Many professional organizations, however, are not prioritizing these benefits.
  • Get them early: The best time to attract new members is early in their career stage (as a student or between one and five years into their careers). Members become increasingly difficult to acquire as they progress in their careers.
  • Segmentation is important (know thy members): The benefits and value members get from being part of an organization change, grow, and evolve as members age and advance in their careers. Younger generations care more about job opportunities and training, while older generations are more interested in getting the latest industry information and staying current on the latest code of ethics and credentials. Younger generations need more benefits, whereas older generations need fewer.
  • Organizations and the members they serve are misaligned on the value of some benefits: Professional organizations put too much emphasis on meetings and conferences, as well as advocacy. They put too little emphasis on job opportunities, credentialing, and certifications, as well as standards and ethics, based on what members say they’re looking for in a membership organization.
  • Organizations are missing a major opportunity to target communications by member age and career stage: Very few organizations target members with any sort of consistency, and instead, adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach across the entire member base. There are stark differences in the way younger and early career members like to be communicated with versus older, more established members.

The full report can be downloaded at: www.abila.com/memberengagementstudy/.

About the Study

Commissioned by Abila, Edge Research conducted two online surveys. One surveyed 1,030 association members who reported they’re currently a member of a “professional membership organization,” or have been so within the last two years. The second survey was conducted among 149 association professionals. Surveys were in the field April 7 through 25, 2016.

About Abila

Abila is the leading provider of software and services to associations and nonprofit organizations that help them use data and personal insight to improve financial and strategic decision making, enhance member and donor engagement and value, operate more efficiently and effectively, and increase revenue to better activate their mission. Abila combines decades of industry experience with technology know-how to serve nearly 8,000 clients across North America. For more information, please visit www.abila.com. To subscribe to the Abila blog, visit Forward Together.

Media Contact:

Jenna Overbeck