Membership Committees Can Be Challenging

Donna Dunn

Many organizations find membership committees one of the most challenging for obtaining volunteers. Some so much that they eliminate the committee altogether.

We find that individuals will commit their time if they know that:
• what they do will make a contribution to the organization;
• their work has a specific outcome; and
• they have an enjoyable time in the process.

We recommend that membership committees, and all committees, have very clear purpose statements that are focused on outcomes. That way members of the committee and prospective members of the committee know what they are going to work on and how they will measure progress toward that outcome. So you might tell a prospective membership committee volunteer that the purpose is membership growth. Or the purpose is investigating and improving member value. Or whatever is appropriate. And give them an indication of how progress will be tracked. If there is already a plan of work, let them know that. If they have been charged with an outcome and the “how” to achieve that outcome is left to the committee, let the volunteer or potential volunteer know that too.

Individuals are less and less likely to volunteer if you say ‘please be on our membership committee for the next three years’ without some indication of the work the committee will do, the amount of time they are being asked to commit, and that the work is actually of value to the association.

Volunteer time gets more and more valuable. Being specific about how their contribution of that time will be best used and what outcomes will be achieved is much more likely to grab interest than just asking people to volunteer for a committee.

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About the Author

Donna Dunn

Donna Dunn, CAE has more than 25 years of association leadership experience, including her role as CEO of the Association of YMCA Professionals. Donna's personal mission is to make sure people have what they need to be the best they can be.