How to Make Sure the YMCA Membership You Offer is Worth It

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The Power of Membership

From our earliest years, we want to be included. On the inside. In the know. My preschool daughter hates being left at home alone with her grandmother, even though she’s a wonderful playmate and caretaker. But at the age of three, my daughter can’t comprehend why her dad, mom, and older brother and sister would all walk out the door without her on the way to school and work.

Inviting customers to be “on the inside” of something good.

Membership isn’t a new marketing ploy. It’s basic part of social behavior. Individuals need communities to help them feel a sense of belonging—to know they’re included, wanted, accepted, and valued. Individuals that unite behind a collective, positive goal broaden its reach and maximize its impact for good.

“How Much Does Membership Cost?”

From the beginning, people understand that these special privileges cost something, whether the finger-prick of a “blood brother” in grade school or an annual membership fee in the adult world. So, the first questions they ask are “How much does it cost?” and “What will I get for my membership fee?”

Because these are the first questions asked, that’s often where organizations start when building their membership program. But maybe we need to reevaluate the power and purpose of membership first. Maybe we need to ask:

  • How can we make sure our members receive what they needed to stay invested?
  • How can we encourage partnership so that members contribute to the common goal?

As organizational leaders, we should always be strategic and marketing-minded, evaluating member benefits in the form of discounts, special access, and gifts. But the greatest benefit a member receives is the sense of belonging to something good.

This month, as many of us re-evaluate our goals for 2016, perhaps reflecting on these questions will help sharpen your membership tactics:

For your YMCA:

  • What is our mission?
  • What do we value?
  • What are our core priorities?
  • What sets us apart from other organizations with similar goals?

For your members:

  • What do they value?
  • What are their primary goals, personally and collectively?
  • What do they prioritize?
  • Why do they choose us?

As you clearly identify and communicate your particular benefits, you’ll reach the audience most likely to align with your goals. Those are the ones to invest in!


We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community. – Dorothy Day