3 Challenges, 1 Solution: How India’s Associations Can Double Membership Growth

From 2018 to 2019, the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FKCCI) doubled their membership growth by leveraging only one software solution.

There are many software solutions that are able to help support associations in their membership growth goals, but EventBank is one of the few on the ground taking note of client success in India. So, we’ll be talking about membership growth based on user adoption of our software, plus our recent interviews with association professionals at the India Association Congress 2019.

First, let’s take a look at the current state of affairs for associations in India with some feedback we received from the IAC 2019 event which collected some of the biggest leaders in associations in India to share their ideas, challenges, and successes.

Freeware & Partnerships Addiction

In India, it’s common place that associations, and to an extent chambers of commerce, to adopt singular free-use software solutions, or, to add in partners to help bolster their events, fundraising, or membership growth activities. Riding the fine-line between ROI and Value delivered to an organization’s stakeholders, it can be easy to opt for either freeware software like EventBrite to host events, or otherwise hire partners who can relatively guarantee results.

Also another factor observed is Associations have a fear to adopt and maintain a software by themselves but yet for every big conferences they hire a third party to manage their event. Eventually they don’t realize that how much cost could be reduced by having a software of their own.

There are, however, other solutions that can be leveraged that are more long term oriented, and allow for complete control to rest in the hands of the associations that could be benefiting from this engagement control being wrestled back to them.

Substandard Software that Meets Consumer Tech

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As memberships increase, and associations throw events meant to engage the public at large, it can be difficult to find ways to make the process experiential. In India, smartphone adoption as daily use devices will reach 428 Million units sold by 2022, making India become the second largest smartphone market behind China.

With this in mind, an opportunity for associations to grow is rising. Developing countries are often times looking to app development to increase convenience and quality of life by utilizing smartphones as engagement touch points for things like transportation and food delivery functions, or to use as a mobile wallet for areas where banking can be seen as a hassle and India is no exception. Already Indian startups are reaching rapid growth due to app development, and associations could be benefiting from this too.

However, with current tech usage at event spaces, rarely are smartphone being leverage for check in processes, and even fewer are being used to help manage the membership process. With this in mind, having a mobile first event or association site, QR code scan check ins, and mobile membership management can provide the bridge between association and member/attendee who are seeking new ways to engage.

Lifetime Memberships are Hurting Associations

Virtual Membership Cards

57% Indian professionals would consider switching careers to get closer to their dream job.

That means it’s more important than ever to deliver value to members and ensure that you’re keeping up with ROI through membership dues as long as possible. This, however, does not mean you should give away lifetime memberships to new members in order to retain member count, a common problem among Indian associations and chambers of commerce.

If professionals are likely to change careers, then it’s not pertinent to offer lifetime solutions to them if they should leave in the future.Associations and Chambers alike are often times struggling with keeping members renewing, and it can be seen as an easy way out to simply deliver lifetime memberships since it can’t be revoked and the number of members can only grow.

This is not the exact strategy that begets ROI, which, is always the prime goal of any organization. An association is only as big as it’s budget allows it to grow, and if your budget is not growing, neither will your association.

The other half of the puzzle is cost. Managing members, hosting events for them, or any other activity are all cost centers for associations. If you are providing lifetime memberships, then your growth is limited to the number of prospective members in your audience. While it can be fruitful in the beginning for potential members to join for the prospect of lifetime membership, costs will inevitably increase to manage the new surge in members, and will quickly out-pace the ROI generated from adding on new lifetime members.

Another aspect taken into account is the length of an average lifetime membership. A lifetime can mean nearly 40-50 years of memberships. Every engagement point like an event for instance that a member attends at this length of time, has a cost to manage that member. This adds up over time as well, and, with a standard 3.43% inflation rate in India, it is very likely that by the end of a member’s lifetime with your association, it would have actually cost you more than the initial membership fee that they had paid.

Association Management Software as a Solution

The above challenges are things that can be tackled with one simple solution, Association Management Software.

Simply dissected, an Association Management Software is often a cloud based software that combines all the necessary tools needed into one platform. Tools like:

  • CRMs
  • Membership Managers
  • Email Marketing Tools
  • Web & Event Page Builders
  • Ticketing & Registrations
  • More

Solutions like these can make it easier to manage memberships as the tools can be easily accessed anywhere on with an internet connection and share among team members so you can delegate tasks.

It can often times replace the tired hassle of finding and recreating content for events on platforms where it can be a one-time solution and once it’s over with, it’s gone for good, and then the content needs to be recycled in a more manual manager. Among this, branding value is lost with certainty as freeware tools will often prefer their brand to be 50% as visible as yours is at a minimum. As well, what it comes to hiring third party partners to impact events or membership growth, it can often times be pricey, and you’ll find decisions are taken out of your hands.

Both of these solutions are commonplace in India’s Association scene, and it’s often due to the lack of realization that there is an alternative, which is leveraging tools that get your association making smarter decisions and managing better and faster.

EventBank is exactly like this type of solution, but with a little more intricacies under the hood like data sharing between each tool, automated renewal reminders, and virtual membership cards to boot.

Through platforms like ours, it’s more of a long term growth strategy that focuses on the contact CRM and to this, extending to the membership management module as well. Every engagement an association or a contact makes with each other is recorded and updates their profile automatically. That means you can track when a group of contacts have their memberships renewals dates coming up in the next month, or track to see what or how many events any given contact or group of contacts have been a part of and as well update that information as the contacts check in to events or renew/don’t renew their memberships.

The FKCCI and the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce Karnakata are both two examples of success stories in India where EventBank made an impact in their membership growth, or otherwise eased the pain of managing members with what was previously entirely manual processes.

Are you interested in growing your memberships? Book a demo and we’ll show you how.




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Written by Robert Rafferty

Robert is an avid growth hacker seeking to bring scalable growth to event management software solutions. Dog person. Based in Hong Kong. Graduate in International Business from Florida Atlantic University.

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