Advocacy and Membership – Two Ships Passing in the Night



When was the last time association government relations and membership teams had a strategic discussion about the connection between advocacy and membership growth? Virtually every membership study notes that members join and stay because of advocacy.  But in most cases, these two departments are siloed, don’t collaborate, and rarely utilize the inherent internal strengths of these departments to be effective.
This is a big problem as associations have a legacy bias toward these entities as successfully executing without the other.
Suggestions to improve the dilemma:

  •  Conduct a “hot issue” government affairs briefing to non-members to showcase the expertise of the GR team. It’s quite likely the lack of awareness of the issue by non-members will become apparent.
  •  During member engagement or new member on-boarding, facilitate a meeting with a Congressional staffer in the district to get to know the member business.  It builds advocacy value and starts a grasstops relationship early in the association membership life cycle.
  •  As a leader – initiate meetings between the GR and membership teams to find issues for membership leverage, and those that require disciplined membership grassroots work.

Ultimately, we must design the consistent integration of the membership development and advocacy teams – the association value proposition frankly demands it.


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