How to Grow Your Association

23rd March 2017

With 50 per cent of associations reporting that they are not experiencing any growth in membership, Boardroom looks at a new white paper created by Kenes offering advice for associations looking to grow.

Professional associations have long been successful in delivering great benefits to their members and stakeholders yet recent surveys indicate that many are not experiencing any growth, with 24 per cent indicating they are seeing a decline.

According to Kenes research the lack of growth is being driven by a lower acquisition of new members, as many associations report a consistent rate of member renewal but a challenge acquiring new members. In particular many associations recognise they have difficulty in attracting younger members to their society. Financial instability and economic recession, demographic shifts and rapidly changing technology also are impacting membership today.

Kenes has come up with a list of behaviours it believes associations should be exploiting to help grow their associations:

A Sense of Belonging

Our sense to be part of something remains and if anything is increasing given the rise of online networks for both social and professional use, what is changing is our expectation of how we join and what we give and receive as part of belonging. Take Facebook as an example, it may not be regarded as an association, but it has relationships with over a billion “members” and anyone can start up a group of likeminded individuals with a common aim for free. This model is becoming the norm, and we are less prepared to stump up the cash for the privilege of belonging.

Information, Education, Resources

Access to privileged information in return for membership dues was once the core proposition for most associations. Now, this information is available, for free, to anyone who has the patience to search for it. However, even the elusive Generation Y has a need for continuing education and useful information and professional organisations are the obvious choice, however, associations need to do more than just provide information which is available elsewhere, they need to add value by aggregating, assembling, reviewing, etc.


We have long lived in a world where customisation was valued, however it is now expected as people have become used to being able to customise and personalise everything from their social media accounts and online experiences, to their air travel experience and coffee. Very few professional associations have adopted this approach and this puts off many potential members, why pay for benefits which don’t fit their particular needs.

Visit: to download the full white paper.

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