Other examples are companies like Netflix or Hulu, the top examples of a subscription business, where people can become members by paying a monthly fee. Most companies that offer online courses also often implement a type of membership model. A membership association is any organization that allows people to subscribe and become members who advocate for a specific, shared purpose. Your non-profit organization may or may not have formal members, depending on how widely you want to spread responsibilities and rights.
In a non-profit organization with membership, voting members may appoint the board of directors, remove a director, change bylaws, or dissolve the nonprofit organization. Certain organization services may be available only to members, such as access to a retirement program or listing in a member directory. In contrast, in a non-profit organization without membership, the board of directors usually takes the above actions. The idea of your organization and its causes may be enough to attract an initial membership base, but if continuous and renewed benefits are not offered, it will never be enough to sustain it.
Now that we've discussed the general definition and idea of what a membership model is, let's talk about why you need it. While it may take you some time to realize this, it is crucial to the success and sustainability of your membership model. A general meeting is where all your employees and leaders are invited to come together and learn about the proposed membership model. While yours may not be as extraordinary as SFMOMA, establishing an organized and accessible membership model will help your business thrive for years to come.
The key to a successful membership model is to understand how you can adapt your organization's capabilities to the needs and wants of its members. Your membership base is something that lives, breathes and changes, and it is your organization's responsibility to nurture and care for it. A membership organization is structurally more complicated than a non-member organization, so it's important to understand the burdens and challenges that come with this choice. Having a consistent form of income comes from membership payments, merchandise, sponsorships, and event tickets.
If membership is not very active or interested in carrying out its authority, it can be very difficult to achieve a quorum for members to vote on this issue. The creation and cultivation of membership also requires the organization to pay attention to successful member recruitment strategies, adjust overall member benefits, and determine a cost-effective fee structure for members. This model is often used by charter schools that keep membership fees low or non-existent, but rely on members to help in other ways. It is often impossible to bring all members together at the same time, so proxy voting is common.
Not only is it about creating and launching a new membership program, but starting to manage internal change is just as important. The model of members as advocates is probably the most difficult model of organizational membership to understand.