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How One Association Gave Its Membership Numbers a Booster Shot

Putting out fires becomes more difficult when your members are unresponsive

Putting out 10 different fires every single day is pretty much par for the course when you’re an association professional. But when your resources are stretched to the limit, the possibility of those fires spreading out of control is alarming.

For Sheila Johnston, senior vice president of business operations at the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA), her organization’s biggest fire was stagnant membership growth. “There are over 40,000 pharmacists in California, but we were hovering at around 10 percent for a long time,” she explained.

Johnston did some digging and found a few quick fixes for issues that were stagnating growth, such as people still paying member rates for classes long after their memberships had expired. “I put a stop to that right away,” she said with a laugh. She researched what else CPhA could do to reverse its downward recruitment and retention trend, and saw that it had a scalability problem. “I could make 40 membership calls a day—which I love to do—but that meant there were 30,000-plus pharmacists whom I was not reaching.”

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