4 Reasons Your Members Don’t Trust You

Posted by Curt Moss on Sep 25, 2013 12:21:00 AM

For businesses to join your association, they must believe they are going to gain a certain amount of benefits or return on their investment. Each year when they are up for renewal, they will re-evaluate if your organization has delivered enough value for them to continue supporting your organization.

While some members join because they feel as though there is no other option in order to gain the benefits they want, others require a level of integrity that you will deliver on your promise. For more information on why members join, see our post on the Three Types of Members That Join Associations and How to Retain Them.

Regardless of why people join your association, we know that trust plays a key role in how they view your organization.   Here are some reasons why members may not trust your organization and would question their likelihood to renew.

Your listening skills are lacking

Members want to be seen and heard. After joining your association, they want to be a part of the organization. They have ideas, concerns and opinions about how you do business, and what they need and want from you. Don’t just read the email or review and move along – answer them!  Reach out to them at events and ask them questions.  Respond to comments on your blog posts, Twitter feed or Facebook page.

By interacting in real time with your members, you will ensure they feel appreciated, and be more likely to trust that you really are in this for their best interest. And be sure to document conversations with your members in your association management software.  This will provide a historical record on your member's profile and allow other staff to know what's been discussed previously.

Your services did not produce as promised

There is nothing worse than over-promising and under-delivering. Make sure your sales team provides a clear explanation of benefits and sets expectations for new members. Of course, whenever you're providing services to your members, you are likely to hear about what didn’t work, and how they would like you to help them fix it. 

Resist the urge respond with a canned answer assuring them that it will work, just give it time. Reply with a plan of action. Let your members know that you are concerned about the state they are in, and as a provider of support, services and promotion, you want to do the best you can. Be committed to providing your members with the information they want, and the services they seek. Protect their interests by explaining to them your participation in industry initiatives, helping them remember why they chose you in the first place.  Meet with them to reset expectations and create a plan to deliver benefits for them.

They don't feel like you know them

Do you send the same messages to all of your members, despite their business size, type of business or location?  Your members don't want to receive information that is not relevant to them.  Imagine how your members feel when they get emails inviting them to attend an event they've already registered for.

Increasingly, your members (especially Millennials) expect you to know certain information about them and use it to communicate with them effectively.  Create segmented lists in your association management software so you are always communicating with the right group of members with the right message.   If you're unsure on how to track this information, check out these best practices for measuring member engagement.

You're under-communicating

In today's constant flow of social media communications, your members expect more frequent updates on new programs, events, legislative issues and educational opportunities.  They expect (and deserve) transparency on how your organization is working to help them grow their business.

For events that you are planning or legislative actions you are involved in, let your members know!  By allowing your members to be part of the team, you can create a cohesive body of long-term members who need your services, and want your involvement. Give them something to work with you on, and they will reward you with undivided trust in what you have to say. Trust them to be involved, and reap the results of growth and retention.

If your members hear about items that are important to them AFTER the fact, they may feel like you're hiding information from them.  Yes, it is hard to ensure that all members know everything about your organization, but make sure you are using the proper communications channels and making it easy for members to find information about your activities.

Store your members' social media profiles in your membership management system, just like you would a phone number or email address.  This way you'll know how many members are on which networks and help you know where to share important messages.


The days of "check book" members are over, where members would simply write a check for dues each year because it was a "good idea."   Your members haven't just joined your association - they've entered a relationship.  

And like any relationship, trust is critical for continuing and growing your members' relationships with your association going forward.   How does your organization work to earn your members' trust?


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Topics: Membership Marketing & Technology