How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Association Onboarding

open doorAssociation industry vernacular defines onboarding as a process through which new members move from being organizational outsiders to becoming organizational insiders.

Translation? Onboarding is a party and your association is the host. Consider the following two scenarios:

  • In one scenario, you’ve recently met a new acquaintance and invite them to your party. When they arrive, you don’t greet them, you don’t point them to the buffet, you fail to introduce them to other guests, and when it ends, not only do you not thank them for coming, you don’t even say goodbye. Then when they don’t show up to your next party, you scratch your head and wonder why.
  • The other scenario goes like this. You invite that person to the party and the day of, you text them and tell them you’re excited to see them. When they show up, you hang up their coat, make sure they have refreshments, and introduce them to some of the other guests. Later, you take some time to chat with them one-on-one.

When the party winds down, you walk them to their car, and the next morning, you give them a call, letting them know how much you enjoyed seeing them.

It’s fairly simple to see where this is going, right?

The First 3 Steps to Avoiding Onboarding Pitfalls



Timing is critical. When a new member joins, they’re motivated and excited. You have their attention, and this is the one chance to set the tone. Make it count.

Onboarding involves more than a checklist and shouldn’t be an afterthought. According to research by Dynamic Benchmarking and Amanda Kaiser of, associations with an official plan have 4% higher renewal rates than those without.

Stay on the right track when onboarding members. Get your copy of
Avoiding the Pitfalls of the New-Member Onboarding Process.


What is the association trying to achieve? If there isn’t a goal, there isn’t a way to determine if the onboarding process is producing results.


Getting it right supersedes doing it fast. Understanding the association’s member persona makes a big difference to the success of the process. Some associations divide new members into different demographics and have a specific plan for each group.

Knowing why a new member joined, how they were attracted to the organization in the first place, and most importantly, what they want, is key to an effective onboarding program. If an association doesn’t have a laser focus on what new members (or any members) want, how can they deliver? Demonstrating value is impossible if expectations haven’t been met.

Check back soon for the next post about avoiding Member Onboarding Pitfalls.

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Avoiding the Pitfalls of the New-Member Onboarding Process.

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