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  • 30 Mar 2016 11:41 PM | Anonymous

    The Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits is Australia’s only course for governance professionals with a focus on the not-for-profit sector. Six courses that fulfil the requirements of the Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits will be offered over three days as part of an intensive study course. Details of the Certificate are as follows: Date/s: Tuesday 19th April – Thursday 21st April. (9:00am – 5:00pm). For more information, please contact Mary Jarratt at the Governance Institute of Australia on 03 9620 2488 or

  • 30 Mar 2016 10:42 PM | Anonymous

    By Julian Moore

    Securing new, high-value partnerships is NOT about selling your organisation.


    When you send your proposal, the purpose of your proposal is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The proposal is a teaser whose role is to excite the reader into wanting to learn more. 


    When you follow up your proposal on the phone, the purpose of the call is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The purpose of that call is to secure a face to face meeting to discuss things further.


    And when you do get that meeting, the purpose of the meeting is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The purpose of the meeting is to ask questions to learn more about what the sponsor is trying to achieve, what marketing channels work most comfortably for them, and what their idea of a “successful” partnership looks like. It is your opportunity to build a genuine relationship with the individuals in the other organisation and seriously evaluate whether they are the right partner for your organisation.


    With the information you have gathered, you can tailor your sponsorship package to effectively achieve the outcomes your potential sponsor is seeking in a manner both organisations are comfortable with. Now is your opportunity to make a compelling, high value, offer with measurable, tangible outcomes for all parties. 

  • 30 Mar 2016 10:42 PM | Anonymous

    By Belinda Moore

    I have worked with a number of associations recently who have wonderfully high retention rates but very low growth rates. After investigating further, it became apparent that all these associations have a wonderful range of services, many very happy members, and absolutely no sales function whatsoever. To fix this situation, and to effectively recruit new members, you need the have the following processes in place:

    A process for generating leads into your organisation. To create new members, you need prospective members. This means developing strategies for generating leads. This can include attending trade fairs, viral campaigns, and strong internal policies around the collection of opt-ins from prospective members with whom staff and volunteers come in contact with.

    A process for building a relationship with prospective members. Recruiting and retaining members is a bit like dating. Just because you are ready for them to join doesn’t mean they are ready to make that commitment. Having some regular non-member engagement is a great way to enable prospective members to get a feel for the organisation. This can include issuing free e-newsletter and enabling non-members to register to attend your events (at a much higher fee). 

    A process for converting someone from a non-member to a member. There are many great sales channels for membership including direct mail, e-mail, outbound telephone calls, and/or an on-the-ground sales team. Associations who are growing the most strongly use a mix of all of these. After a heavy swing to email over the past 7 years, we are now seeing associations generating an excellent return from sending a well-crafted direct mail piece followed up by a phone call.

    It is vitally important that every prospective member enquiry or outbound campaign is followed up with a phone call. This is an absolutely critical element to member recruitment success. With the advent of cost-effective, outbound call centres specialising in associations (such as Optimum Contact) there is no excuse for these calls not being made.  

  • 30 Mar 2016 10:41 PM | Anonymous

    It is impossible to make informed decisions regarding your membership strategy without knowing your membership statistics. At the most basic level you should know your Retention Rate, Growth Rate, Loss Rate and Average Tenure – by each membership segment. If you don’t know how to work out these statistics, please download The Membership Managers' Handbook (2015 Edition) and read page 18. If you would like an excel spreadsheet with the formula, please email me.

  • 15 Mar 2016 7:17 PM | Anonymous

    By Belinda Moore

    With the right approach, great things can be achieved by associations working with few staff and limited financial resources. Belinda Moore from Strategic Membership Solutions is running a full day workshop entitled Practical Strategies for Turning Around a Small Association with Few Cash Reserves and Minimal Staff Resources in April and has the following tips for those wanting to achieve a significant turnaround in their organisational performance.


    1. Prioritise – and stick to it! - You don’t have the resources to be all things to all people. If you try to achieve everything at once you will fail. Plan your turnaround process carefully. Note all the tasks that need to be completed in order of priority. Then start at the top. You will be pressured by people who want their particular interest area prioritised. Don’t feel guilty about saying “no”. Turnarounds are a step-by-step process, and you risk failure by diverting attention and resources away from the tasks that need to be immediately accomplished in order to reach the end goal. 
    2. Don’t just budget – cash flow! – If cash is tight having a budget isn’t good enough. You need to live by your cash flow. This spreadsheet maps out all your anticipated income and expenses. When budgeting be conservative on income and generous on expenses. This gives you a buffer when you hit one of the inevitable speedbumps that will crop up from time to time. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing the inclusion of unrealistic income targets to make the cash flow work.(Not worked with a cash flow before? For a free template email
    3. Ensure you have the right team in place – Having one wrong person on your team can completely derail a turnaround. Ensure you have the right Board, management, and staff in place to effectively plan and execute the turnaround. If there are people on the team who aren’t part of the solution, get rid of them as quickly as possible. For a turnaround to be effective everyone on the team must be working together – and working hard.
    4. Streamline your administration and processing functions – Unnecessary administration diverts valuable time resources and creates the need for costly additional administrative support. If entering into a turnaround phase, first streamline your administrative processes to minimise data entry and automate everyday tasks (such as event registrations and membership processing). Remove barriers to joining and renewing (such as unwieldy application processes). This will provide a solid foundation for future growth. There are a number of low cost, cloud based integrated database and website systems such as that are quick and easy to implement.
    5. Focus on delivering compelling tangible member benefits – Associations that succeed aren’t those with the most benefits. They are the ones that deliver the most value to their members. Identify the most compelling value you can deliver to your existing and prospective members and focus on delivering that. Don’t be distracted by investing resources into minor benefits. Be prepared to let go of the benefits that may have served you well in the past but are no longer compelling to members. If you don’t know what your members currently value, then ask yourself the question … “If our association disappeared overnight what would our members miss?” 
    6. Don’t run a membership drive – Selling membership with few staff and financial resources is a difficult challenge. Make the task easier by getting prospective members to come to you. Select a cause that is deeply relevant to your members and prospective members. Create a focused and bold advocacy plan to achieve a specific outcome around that cause. Don’t be afraid to think big. Make membership the positive by-product of making a tangible difference to your members’ lives. 
    7. Run awesome events – The symbiotic relationship between successful events and strong membership growth are well recognised.  Make your events the “must attend” for your profession or industry. This means focusing on the details – engaging speakers with great content, compelling programs, innovative formats, fresh venues, great food, and air-conditioning that won’t freeze or boil your delegates.
    8. Use the competitive edge that being an association gives you - Other organisations can compete with your products, services, and events. It is far more difficult for them to compete with a highly engaged membership. When planning your communications, events, and other programs, find ways to emotionally engage with your members. Reduce barriers (like those awful automated telephone systems) between yourself and the members. Don’t be afraid to show the human side of the association. Your events are a useful tool for leveraging this advantage.
    9. Seek few sponsors at a higher value – Sponsorship seeking takes a lot of effort. Seek a handful of industry exclusive annual partners who are a natural fit for your organisation. Find out how they will measure the success of the arrangement. Structure the partnership to achieve those outcomes. Schedule to catch up with them every couple of months.  Create a situation where you, your members and the partner all win.
    10. Communicate! – Great internal and external communication are critical to an effective turnaround process. This isn’t just sending out the occasional update to staff or members. Communication is a two-way street. Get your key stakeholders involved in the process. Get them passionate about the purpose you are trying to achieve, get them actively involved in implementing the plan, and (very importantly) take the time to celebrate each successful step along the way.  A turnaround is a team effort that is made more successful when all team members are enthusiastically pulling in the same direction.    

    For more information on Association Turnarounds read our Small Association Turnarounds - A Step by Step Approach White Paper.
  • 25 Feb 2016 10:19 PM | Anonymous

    By Belinda Moore

    I was sitting in an association board meeting recently and a discussion on the topic of “how much should we be charging sponsors” was underway. When I heard one person argue that they shouldn’t raise the sponsors fee because “we don’t have thousands of members” I had to step in.  The conversation went something like this …


    Me:       How many you are currently using the services of your current investments partner?

    Board:  Almost all of us.

    Me:       Of those using his services, how much in total do you have invested with them?

    Board:  [After a quick consultation around the table] Almost a billion dollars.

    Me:       Wow, that’s a seriously large amount of money. How much would that be worth in fee income to that partner?

    Board:  Not sure. At least a million per annum. Probably more.

    Me:       And how much are you charging them per annum for the partnership?

    Board:  Around $10,000 ... and it’s exclusive.

    Me:       Hmmm … Do you think you might want to edge up that partnership fee just a touch? 


    While the size of the investment was somewhat stunning in this instance, this situation is not uncommon in the association sector. Few organisations devote much time to measuring the return on investment the sponsor is gaining from the arrangement. This invariably leads to a situation where you either:


    a)       Lose the sponsor because they aren’t receiving value (and you haven’t cared enough about the partnership to make sure they are); or

    b)       Lose out on income because you are providing value to your sponsor that is way out of proportion to what they are investing.


    Talk to your sponsors. You need to know how THEY define the success of the partnership. Once you know how they are measuring success, you can track and report against those variables. I guarantee you this information will be invaluable. It will become the focus of discussions when renewing or on-boarding sponsors. And, in our exceptionally competitive sponsorship industry, it will set you apart from the competition in a very positive way.

  • 25 Feb 2016 10:18 PM | Anonymous

    When selling membership, the fee you charge is not the most important factor. Instead it is the value the membership fee represents and how effectively that value is communicated.


    Many associations struggle to articulate the true value of membership because it is generally intangible and therefore somewhat challenging to explain. So people default to speaking about the tangible aspects of the membership. Unfortunately, these are generally just features of membership (E.g. websites, magazines, events) which aren’t very compelling without being put into the context of a value proposition.  


    A prospective member is not making a donation to the organisation. They are making an investment. To get them to join you need to start the conversation by articulating how the member will realise a successful return on their investment. Some broad examples of how you might begin include:


    For a business owner seeking to join an industry or professional association – When you join our association you are making an investment into the success of your business. By joining us you will increase your opportunities to generate new business, reduce your expenses, raise your profile, and gain a competitive advantage over those who aren’t members.


    For an individual joining a professional association – When you join our association you are making an investment into the success of your career. We will provide you with the tools, skills and networks to help fast track your way up the career and salary ladder. As a member you can access opportunities to raise your profile, reduce your outgoings and advance your career that simply aren’t readily available to non-members.


    The most compelling value statements are highly targeted towards the specific member segment you are communicating with. For example, a student entering into a new career may be focused on ensuring they get the information and support to get the best possible start in their career. However, someone nearing retirement may be more interested in legacy building and succession planning.  

  • 08 Feb 2016 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    By Belinda Moore

    In the office today I was reading the statement from the Reserve Bank of Australia in relation to their decision to leave interest rates on hold. The general economic outlook isn’t feeling great. In Australia and internationally many senior economists are concerned about the very real prospect of a significant economic downturn on the horizon. So how does this affect the day to day operations of your association?

    Business Models - During a downturn your organisation becomes particularly vulnerable to losses and can easily miss opportunities for gains due to tight financial and staff resources. If you’ve got an ancient business model that is barely surviving the not-so-new millennium, then don’t count on it making it through a downturn. Now is the time to review your business model to ensure you are optimally set up to succeed in the current and future operating environment. I recommend reading Peggy Hoffman’s Mission Driven Volunteer article for more insights on this. It’s a couple of years old but still very relevant.

    Sponsorship & Partnerships - We are seeing big changes in how corporates are seeking to partner with associations. They are investing more money than ever but into fewer partnerships. They want tangible results and creative implementation. They are seeking engagement with the “right” people (rather than a lot of people). They will run screaming from the next person who puts “we will put your logo on our website” as a major potential partnership benefit (seriously … please don’t do this). When you submit a proposal for a partnership you are entering a VERY competitive space. Associations are investing heavily into business partnership programs that are highly professional. You need to ensure your program can compete. (If you’d a copy of a successful proposal to give you an idea of what is out there email me on

    Membership – Research has shown that membership is counter-cyclical. People tend to gravitate towards associations during downturns … provided that association is providing tangible value. Now is the time to look at the value you are providing to members. Are you really making a positive difference in their lives? Would they notice if you were gone? If the answer to those questions is “no” then you’ve got serious work to do. Your goal is to ensure you are truly entangled into the lives of your members throughout their career. If you have organisational members, you need to ensure you have multiple points of contact within each organisation - and a relationship with each contact. For membership ideas check out the  Membership Managers' Handbook (2015 Edition) Ebook

  • 08 Feb 2016 12:29 PM | Anonymous

    This month we are running Practical Sales Skills for Association Professionals in Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne. This will be closely followed Practical Strategies for Turning Around a Small Association with Few Cash Reserves and Minimal Staff Resources, in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne in April.  As always we ensure these are very practical with tool and ideas you can immediately implement. These events can also be run as in-house sessions for your entire staff.

  • 08 Feb 2016 12:28 PM | Anonymous

    I’ve had a large number of requests for the contact details of outsourced call centres as more associations are seeking assistance with outbound calls for renewals, event sales, market research, new member campaigns, and even just data cleaning. After some searching I’ve finally found one with a cost effective service. I used them in an outbound member acquisition campaign where they followed to follow up on a targeted direct mail piece. The results were outstanding and I was really impressed with both the outcome and the comprehensive reporting. Thank you to Charles Hardy for the referral! To check them out for yourself contact Angela at Optimum Contact on 1300 017 293 or

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