How to Get Started with an Affinity Program

Jannan Poppen

August 1, 2022

If you’ve landed here, chances are you are interested in getting started with an affinity program for your association. But, where do you begin? It can certainly seem overwhelming with all of the options, and perhaps you aren’t even sure if an affinity program is right for your association. The good news is that we are here to support you every step of the way and you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. What do you need to get started, then? Follow these five steps, and you will be well on your way.

 

Understand the Pros and Cons

Affinity programs work best for member-based associations that want to increase engagement and grow their membership. One major benefit is that, with the right partnership, they can provide a source of non-dues revenue for your association. But, they don’t run themselves. Successfully managing an affinity program requires continuous assessment and adjustment to make sure its operating at its peak and providing the value it promises. It also requires a willingness to collaborate and communicate with partners and troubleshoot where necessary. If your association checks these boxes, an affinity program might be the right choice for you.

 

Know Your Members’ Needs

Affinity programs work best when they are developed through the lens of your members’ needs. Offering something that your members truly need is key in creating a thriving and lasting affinity program. The best way to determine members’ needs is by conducting research on what your members find valuable. Asking your members the right questions gives the data you need to make decisions about how to move forward with your affinity program to deliver that value.

 

Find Reliable Partners

For associations new to affinity programs, working with partners who have experience and can provide expertise and guidance will help ensure the process goes smoothly. You’ll want to ask potential partners to demonstrate past successes and results. Having experts, such as Core Affinity, on your side can make or break your success. Of course, you also want to work with partners who understand your industry and your members’ needs, and who are willing to think outside the box to create unique solutions that provide the most value for your members. The right partners will also provide regular updates and reports about how it’s going.

 

Regardless of the partners, it’s essential that you both set clear expectations and have a strong agreement in place. Be sure the agreement or contract outlines who is responsible for marketing and reporting, as well as performance expectations, legal obligations, and cause for termination. 

 

Create Value-Packed Offers

Now that you know your members’ needs and have identified reliable partners, you can start creating offers that best meet your members’ needs. For example, The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) provides Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance guides at a discounted rate as part of its affinity program. Members of the association are required to comply with the law, but it’s not always clear what it means to comply and can vary by state, so this offering creates instant value and meets a clear need for the members of PBSA.

 

Build Awareness

Once you are ready to launch the program, it’s time to share it far and wide. It helps to have a plan in place to build awareness. Email newsletters, social media, and both the business and association websites serve as a starting point for spreading the news about your affinity program. It takes continuous nurturing and sharing to build awareness, so don’t be afraid to share often.

 

Despite the effort it takes to start an affinity program, the impact it can make on your overall member engagement and retention is well worth it. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help getting started or want to know if an affinity program is right for your organization. That’s what we’re here for!