Progression of an association member

IN my talks with members of associations, I often get this question: “How can I be an active member?” This reminds me of this article from the American Society of Association Executives written by Tamara Lucas Copeland, president of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers:

“I gravitated to the membership association world because I understand and value the ‘power of the collective.’ For me, membership in an association isn’t simply about obtaining discounts on magazines or insurance. It’s about developing and furthering a shared vision for change. An association is a powerful construct for improving society. Lofty?  Perhaps. But that really is the way I see it.

“When I read that some are questioning the relevance of membership associations, I want to raise my voice in celebrating their impact. I want people to get it, and get it quickly; so, I challenged myself to capture that power and potential in one quick Tweet:

“Membership in Association = Change: n Member n Engaged Member  n Member Leader   n Member Ambassador  n Member Catalyst  n Member Activist


“Member. An individual enters an association as a member who simply participates in a few events, attends occasionally a training session, maybe scans the newsletter, and goes to the annual meeting.

“Engaged member. Connecting with a colleague who is a kindred spirit or hearing a provocative thought, an engaged member wants to be around the larger community more. He/She may join a group or committee within the association and regularly participates in at least one aspect of the association’s work.

“Member leader.  He/she takes on a leadership role as the chairman of a committee or the coordinator of a project. He/she perceives the organization as having a role to play in moving his/her agenda because her/his agenda and that of the association now seem to be aligned.

“Member ambassador. Not only does the member appreciate what the association does and can do, but he/she also wants others to see this, too. He/she knows that the association is stronger with more people sharing their ideas, strategizing together, and presenting a front united behind a common vision. He/she is reaching out to others, encouraging them to join.

“Member catalyst.  His/her involvement is no longer simply suggesting a training session or a speaker. He/she suggests major interventions, ways in which the organization might take on that big, hairy, audacious goal. He/She is confident in the potential of the association, and wants the association to actualize its potential as a change agent.

“Member activist. As a leader in the association, he/she has developed strong ties with others in the group. He/she has brought a major idea to his/her colleagues, led them in developing a shared vision in a particular area of concern to the membership, and worked to develop a strategy. He/she is ready to move outside of the organization. The work is of a scale that it needs external allies. He/she is moving an agenda that benefits a community that is much larger than simply the association. She is a fully actualized member!”

I hope this “member progression” would spark interest and passion from both the member and the association.


The column contributor, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (Adfiap) and the CEO and founder of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE). PCAAE is holding a mini-conference on Branding, Public Relations and Communications on July 4, 2018, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). The event is supported by Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board, the PICC, Springtime Design, International PR Association and Writers Edge.  E-mail inquiries:


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