I don't mean to ask why do you want to increase your membership, though that too is a valid question for a future conversation. What I mean is “why would someone want to be a member of your family child care association?”
As part of any examination of membership, you should ask some of your members for an answer, but today I want to start with the board.
When you ask the "why" question of many board members, you'll often get the following:
we offer discounts on training. (to which the provider says, “yeah, ok, I have to do it so discounts are good.”)
we offer discounts on the annual conference. (“more training, though IF I can take the day off, it’s not too expensive and not too far away, hanging out with other providers is fun.”)
we offer discounts for Lakeshore or Kaplan or some other vendor. (“right (yawn)...next”)
we advocate for providers at the county/state level. (“ok, that's necessary but I don’t know how it affects me personally. Here, hold the baby while I go make Tommy put his clothes back on. This isn't a nudist colony.”)
All the above are great things if those are important to you as a potential member.
Rather than focus on discounts and training, I suggest you look around the room at your next board meeting and ask the following question of your board members. “Why are YOU a member?” Your board members have a full-time job (and a half) as a family child care provider. Yet they still find the time to give countless hours to the association and the board.
Why is that?
What value does your organization bring to these, the most committed members of your organization? In their answers lie the seeds of your marketing efforts to bring on new members, as well as the things you need to do to keep your members.
The answer to the “why” question is a powerful motivator and is unique to each individual, but there will probably be more similarities than differences in everyone's answers. And it's those answers you need to get at. Spend some time on this exercise and explore people's feelings (assuming you've made a safe space in your board for that level of honesty among your board members!)
My guess is you'll hear things like "I want to give back, I want to make a difference, I like hanging out with this team, I want to help others. I want to be a part of something important."
These are the powerful motivators that get people to show up for a board meeting after a 10-12 hour day. They are the motivators that can get a board member to give up a precious Saturday or weekend for a board retreat or to help support the conference.
Once you get the answers to the “why” question, write them down so you can add variations of them to your marketing materials (you have those right? A membership flyer? A website?)
Those messages will resonate with potential members that could become your future super supporters. Keep in mind, once you get them on as members, you'll need to find ways to give them the opportunities to stay engaged. (That's another post for a future date.)
If you try this exercise, send me a note and let me know how it goes. Wishing you all the best, Bill