If you’re going to the gym, attending meetings for a trade organization, or volunteering at your local charity, the last thing you want to think about are the administrative tasks involved in participating. For organizations and their members, the time and energy spent on handling membership fees, keeping everyone informed about upcoming events, and trying to get in contact is better spent lifting weights, strategizing, and saving the world.

In order to get a better sense of the biggest administrative pain points associated with being a member of an organization, we surveyed 200 respondents who participate actively in their local gym, trade organization, or charity group.

After analyzing the results, one consistent trend emerged: while these activities mostly involve attending a physical location, members would like a digital space in order to stay connected and informed between meetings, appointments, and gym sessions.

I’ll go through the findings of the research below so that, as an organization owner or administrator, you’ll know exactly what your members are missing and how an online digital space might help.


Key findings:

  • Members would like more autonomy when it comes to handling their membership fees and seeking out information about their club or organization.
  • Even when automatic payment options are available, members would like the option of an online portal where they can pay their membership fees.
  • Social media sites are one of the first places that members go to get info about upcoming events and news about their clubs or organizations.
  • A slow and clunky website, and a lack of online space to interact, are two of the biggest pain points that members experience in the administration of their club or organization.

Members want online payment options

From a member’s perspective, paying membership fees is one of the least exciting parts of joining a club or an organization. For an organization, however, it’s essential to the running of the business.

One factor that benefits both sides of the coin is having a seamless payment process. For members, a smooth process makes it a bit less painful to part with their hard-earned cash; for organizations, it’s to ensure that they’re getting paid in a timely manner.

When asked how they currently pay membership fees, over 80 percent of survey respondents said that they pay their membership fees online; 58 percent of those get automatic withdrawals from their account, while 26 percent use an online payment portal.

Compare that to survey results asking respondents how they would prefer to pay their membership fees.

The results still show that, without a doubt, online methods are the preferred way to pay membership fees. Respondents, however, would also like the option to pay through an online portal, as opposed to having the money taken directly out of their account. Nearly 37 percent of respondents would like to pay online through a member portal, compared to only 26 percent who currently use that method to pay their membership fees.

Although automatic payments might seem like the easiest and most hassle-free option, having an online portal where members can login to pay their fees or check the status of their membership would provide them with a level of autonomy, control, and flexibility that automatic payments lack.

Members seek out information themselves

Communicating with members is a must when you’ve got meetings, events, or important information updates to share. While 35 percent of members said that they get this information sent to them by their club or organization, our research shows that members are more often than not seeking out information themselves.

When asked about the most common ways that members get information about their organization, almost 50 percent went looking for it on social media, on a organization’s website, or through other members.

These findings highlight the more active role that members are taking in seeking out information. Instead of waiting for an email newsletter or monthly mailer, members are taking the initiative to find out pertinent information themselves. In fact, 15 percent of members surveyed said that one of their biggest pain points was receiving too many messages– whether email or mail– from their organization.

By checking social media, looking at an organization’s website, and talking to other people, members are being proactive in getting the news and updates that they want from their organization without having to feel inundated with messages.

Online spaces need to be refined

Because they’re frequently looking for information online, members of clubs and organizations expect a good online experience. Unfortunately, when asked for their biggest administrative pain points related to being a member of their club or organization, the majority of respondents pointed to problems dealing with the online experience.

As noted in our survey results:

  • Almost 17 percent of respondents said that they’re missing an online space to interact with other members;
  • Another 15 percent complained about the organization’s website being slow or clunky;
  • Almost 15 percent of survey respondents said that staff at their club or organization were hard to track down.

These online experience issues are especially problematic for those members looking to get information or updates from other members, as well as those going to an organization’s website to seek out information or contact staff who are hard to track down. A clunky website will certainly turn them off from seeking out information on their own.

Good vs. bad membership page design

When considering that almost 50 percent of respondents are seeking out information themselves, having a reliable online space to do that would reduce the time that members spend looking for information or contact details.

Providing an online space for your members

Four walls aren’t enough to contain the energetic enthusiasm of avid gym goers, the tenacious temperament of trade association members, or the aspirational ardor of activists.

In fact, results show that respondents actually want an online space to extend their organization’s physical place; 35 percent of respondents have and use an online member portal, while 27 percent of respondents who don’t have access to an online portal said that they’d like to use one.

Providing an online space can extend those four walls to give members more autonomy and the chance to participate outside the confines of their club or organization. A website doesn’t just need to be a branding tool; it can provide a place for members to manage their membership, contact other members, and stay on top of important news and updates, at their own pace.


Recommendations:

  • Have a fast and functional website where members can easily check out your organization. Include a space for news and updates, and make sure that you have social media accounts that get updated regularly with news or announcements.
  • Provide online payment options so that members have more flexibility when paying membership fees.
  • Include multiple contact options, such as a contact form, where members can make inquiries.
  • Consider creating an online space where members can interact and keep in touch on a regular basis.

Next steps for creating an online space for members

Membership management software has plenty of features that can help create both a great website, as well as a portal for members to make payments and exchange information. Key features include:

  • A member database with a self-service portal where members can login, signup, or update their contact details.
  • Dues management that reminds members when to make payments, either in person or online.
  • Payment processing via credit card or other forms of online payment.
  • Website management for creating a (mobile-friendly) website that your members can easily access.

If you’re ready to create an online space for your members, check out our catalogue of membership management software.


Methodology

This research is based on a survey of 213 respondents based in the US who are part of a club, organization, or association. The survey was carried out in October 2017.

Age demographics of survey respondents:

  • 18-25: 11.7%
  • 26-35: 48.4%
  • 36-45: 21.6%
  • 46-55: 11.3%
  • 55-65: 4.7%
  • Over 65: 2.3%