Association Best Practices
A rewards program figures prominently in membership development for the American College of
Healthcare Executives, according to Cynthia A.
Hahn, Senior Vice President for Member Services.
ACHE’s membership consists of more than 40,000
healthcare executives and it uses a mix of communications channels in its Member Recruitment Program—direct mail, email, advertisements, chapters
and social media. It constantly measures results to
ACHE has three core targets:
1) Health System CEOs (it deploys a peer-to-peer
campaign and asks board members to recruit
2) CEOs to recruit other CEOs and senior staff (a
cascading campaign per se); and
3) General Membership (a Leader-to-Leader campaign and direct mail, which has been most
Regarding the Leader-to-Leader program, it was
the traditional “Member-get-a-Member,” but then
ACHE added rewards and rebranded the program
in 2000. In the first year, the recruitment numbers
skyrocketed from 129 to 1,110. Now more than 25
percent of new members come from that program.
“People really do respond to rewards!” said Hahn.
Here’s how it works: One point is earned by a
member for each member they get to join or to
advance to Fellow status. Rewards include:
• Choice of $25 gift certificate, mug and polo
shirt, or umbrella (one point)
• Choice of pen, desk clock or CEO Circle Membership (two points)
• Leather portfolio (three points)
Rewards are refreshed annually to enhance member engagement. As a bonus, all participants are
entered into a drawing for a free registration to
ACHE’s annual Congress on Healthcare Leadership.
Recruitment of highly sought-after Millennials
through the Leader-to-Leader campaign also has
grown exponentially. An impressive 29 percent of
new recruits came from referrals from other members. ACHE made a concerted effort to get local
chapters involved in the program and to connect
with students and early careerists. Fostering a
culture where “recruitment is part of professional
responsibility” is key, according to Hahn.
Among the lessons learned, Hahn notes, are
recognizing top sponsors at the annual meeting, on
the website, and through the local chapter. “It’s not
all about the rewards items,” Hahn noted. In addition, ACHE uses multiple distribution channels to
promote its program, engages component groups to
participate, rotates awards, has developed a mechanism for expiring points and recognizing unused
points on financials and tracks results in order to
calculate the ROI.
Small but Steady
Even small associations can achieve steady results
when it comes to member prospecting, according
to Brooke Morris, who manages membership and
recruitment for the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), a division
of the American Library Association (ALA). With
4,000 members and a staff of three, leveraging
existing members to get members is paramount.
“Our numbers are steady,” Morris said.
ALCTS has 23 volunteers on its Membership
Committee, nine on the New Members Interest
Group, and just this spring launched a mentoring
program that paired 41 new library school graduates and young professionals with those more
seasoned in the field. “I do think that peer-to-peer
recruitment is effective, as I’ve talked to many
members who feel that they received the best
guidance from meeting peers in their field,” Morris
During ALA’s Midwinter Meeting and the Annual
“Word of mouth is a powerful recruitment tool, according to Francesca Stirrat, the Director of Membership
at the University Club of Chicago, a 130-year-old private social club. Of course, the club takes advantage of
social media, email, and other technology for outreach, but
the most effective is the personal touch. “Members bring
members,” Stirrat said. ”