The Next Steps, LLC has developed a proprietary framework that is intended to shift the focus of membership growth to the core reasons why members join and renew.

Most membership-based organizations (non-profit or for-profit) focus a majority of their resources and energy on marketing and renewal efforts to achieve incremental growth while ignoring the four key areas of their business model that drive exponential growth over time. The In It ForEVERprinciple emerges from the belief that members are in it for…

  • A quality positive Experience,
  • Ever-increasing Value,
  • Intentional Engagement, and
  • Consistent and reliable Relevance

Your organization or company has invested countless hours in honing its mission and purpose. Behind that carefully crafted and sculpted mission statement is a set of values and beliefs. When they join, your members buy in to the mission of the organization. From there, your members demand and expect a quality positive membership experience that becomes more valuable over time and keeps them engaged in the work and activities of an organization that remains a relevant and meaningful part of their personal and professional life indefinitely. It’s an unspoken promise of the agreement they made when joining. If your organization does not deliver well on this promise, the membership agreement is at risk. Over the life of the membership, trust is either built or eroded. The organization that takes for granted the agreement made between the organization and the member risks losing the relationship altogether.


The membership experience begins when a prospective member becomes aware of the organization initially and is fulfilled through milestones in the experience like enrollment, onboarding, benefits deliveries, customer service issues, and renewal. The expectations of members are to receive an experience that is of high quality, positive, exciting, fun, rewarding, and maybe a few surprises that “wow” them.


The membership value proposition is a critical element in meeting and exceeding member expectations. Most organizations become comfortable delivering the same benefits and services year after year thinking that new installments of content and programming will be sufficient in meeting member expectations. Organizations must realize that members have a variety of reasons why they join and renew. If the value is not constantly increasing it is forgotten. Members aren’t just asking, “what’s in it for me?” They’re simultaneously asking, “what have you done for me lately?”


Too often organizations “take care” of engagement by offering programs like onboarding, professional development, networking opportunities, and social media groups. These cannot be seen as engagement. They are only vehicles for members to use to engage with the organization and others. Engagement is not the responsibility of your members. It’s yours. It must be on their terms and not the organization’s. You must find ways to pull members in and engage them.


In an attempt to appeal to larger pools of prospects and audiences, many organizations try to be all things to all people. Organization leaders should have the mindset of being all things to “our” people. Stay within your niche and find ways to deliver valuable resources and services to those people and you will be rewarded with high levels of loyalty and fanaticism. This will lead to attracting even more members that want to belong to your organization, too.


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