Membership organisations today have moved on dramatically from where they were just a few years ago. Specifically, their expectations from technology have increased, as have the expectations of their members. Today, members want to receive communications that are tailored to their specific interests and needs, and to what is going to help them to do their jobs better.

At the most basic level this personalisation of your engagement is where you can differentiate yourself from members using Google search instead of your extensive archive of knowledge.

The only way you can do that is to have a sophisticated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that is fluid and flexible and can support the delivery of your objectives. And you also need a system that is useable – because it’s all very well being the ‘champion in a darkened room’, saying that you have a system that does this and that, but, if your policy, finance or events people can’t use the system – or can’t see the benefits of using it – then it’s never going to truly enable your organisation.

It’s important to have a system that is flexible and adaptable and can meet a multiplicity of needs.

Value statement

Keep at the forefront of your mind the ‘value’ of your organisation to your members. The concept of a ‘value statement’ is often talked about. I’ve never seen a perfect value statement – I’ve seen evolving versions of them, but I’ve never seen a perfect one which says exactly what benefits people derive from being a member of an organisation.

That’s about finding a system that every aspect of your organisation can contribute to, and which is integrated with all of your digital tools. The successful membership organisations will nail that down, or make it a core objective of every member of staff.

It’s important to find a CRM system that doesn’t take away from what staff are there to do. Whether they are in public affairs, or events management, or publishing, you need a system that helps them to do their jobs, and which reinforces why members want to be members.

There are clearly sophisticated systems available now that can do that. Using such a system, your membership organisation will thrive and grow and be stable and confident, in a way that perhaps in the past you did not.

But unless you have a sophisticated, flexible and future-proofed CRM system in place to help you communicate with your members on their terms, you’re never going to meet their needs, or achieve your goals as an organisation.