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Associations Now

New Research to Explore Engaging Membership Models

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, September/October 2013 ASAE@Work

By: Rob Stott

Summary: Four organizations will study and develop models to address member engagement

What makes a member engage with an organization? New research is underway to answer that question.

The ASAE Foundation study will identify and describe relevant behavioral theories as well as current and emerging trends that can be applied to better understand member-engagement models. Four organizations have been selected to conduct the study: Association Laboratory, Inc.; Avenue M Group, LLC; The Haefer Group Ltd.; and the University of North Texas.

In the coming months the groups will report their initial findings in a series of white papers. In the spring, the organizations will gather with other association representatives to discuss the results and use them to develop a publication that provides practical strategies, guidance, and tips for association management professionals to create and apply engaging membership models.

Three main questions will guide the research:

  1. What are the disruptive innovations in other forms of affiliation that are proving to be viable solutions for people seeking to identify with groups and advance their interests?
  2. How will engagement behaviors of individuals and organizations be affected in the future by the economic environment?
  3. What is the nature of community, and what unique roles are "associations of the future" uniquely positioned to serve?

The "how to" guide based on the research is expected to be published next summer.

Rob Stott is Editorial Assistant at Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email:

For more information on the member-engagement model research initiative, contact Dr. Sharon Moss, CAE, at or visit

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Target Engaged"]

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